Meet Silda, founder of SANATcraft: an interview on Muslim hipsters and tote bags

The 22 year Turkmen Silda lives in Australia, she appreciates handmade things, and has founded the Muslim hipster brand SANATcraft. She is definitely what you can call a very busy bee. She enjoys analogue photography, backpacking in small villages, listening to the elderly reminisce, storytelling, exploring historical architectural buildings, walking through markets, creating things by hand, bike riding and graphic design. I had the chance to get to know Silda a little better.

About Silda

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As a person who has always been passionate about art and photography, Silda started out trying a lot different things before the start-up SANATcraft. She started out as just SANAT in which Silda’s photography and illustrations were shown. But she decided to take it a step further, so she created a Facebook page and she started sharing her creations. That was her motivation to continue experimenting in the arts. After that, she made an Instagram account and that was the beginning of SANATcraft.

Extreme muslim

Silda felt the strong urge to take control of the term ‘Muslim extremist’, so she designed the Extreme Muslim collection out of frustration and because she wanted to combat the term. “I created this collection to question and re-define an Extreme Muslim through a funny and sarcastic statement.”

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“I’m from there, I’m from here but I’m not there and not here.”

When I first saw this tote bag I could immediately associate it with Silda. So I really wanted to know the story behind this bag. The inspiration for this tote bag was found in a quote of Mahmoud Darwish on which she stumbled a couple of years ago when she was living in Turkey. She said about the quote “It was so powerful to me that I remember just sitting there in silence, overwhelmed with emotions. As corny as it sounds, it spoke to my soul.” Just like me she could strongly relate to this quote because while growing up she always had an identity crisis. She never felt like she belonged in Australia and when she was in Syria, where she did feel at home, she was considered a stranger. Nowadays Silda doesn’t consider it as a crisis anymore but she sees it as an identity that constantly has the opportunity to develop because she has had the chance to travel and learn more about her ancestors. Now she remains conscious of one important thing, namely that “no one can define your identity for you. No one can tell you who you are and where you belong. It’s something personal and it’s up to you. At the end of the day, you still may not figure out exactly where you are from, but you can decide who you are as a person and where you want to go. Only you can define what home is to you.”

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What I find so special about this brand is that Silda managed to process a message in her products in a humoristic and fashionable way and it’s handmade. As a big fan of tote bags, when seeing bags that are ‘mvslim-friendly’, I already know which tote bag I’m going to purchase next.

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Written by Hafsa Elazzaoui

Hafsa Elazzaoui

Hafsa Elazzaoui is a 20-year-old language student with Arabic and English as her main courses. She has a passion for food and fashion.