In an honest conversation with Grazia, Saudi couturier, philanthropist and working mother Honayda Serafi reveals the realities of how the pandemic’s affected her plans, plus how she hopes to empower the creative community.

How have you adjusted to this period?

It surely wasn’t easy to be confined for several months, but the human being always finds ways to get out of a tough situation. My way of coping with this period was to take advantage of the time we were given to first take a break from the rushed cycle I was living in to simply breathe. I also enjoyed getting back to the activities I had long lost the time to do like painting, sculpting and reading. What also helped me a lot cope with this period were the Zoom calls I was having with my kids, my family and friends to feel this human connection.

What have you found the most challenging?
Being far from my children would be the most challenging part of this period. Although each of them lives in a different city across the globe, we had always managed to meet every few weeks, but that was the longest I had ever had to be away from them.

What are you doing as a business to cope with the crisis and inspire your community?
The pandemic had an immediate impact on the worldwide economy, leaving millions of people who were already struggling to make a living uncertain about tomorrow. So I thought I had to find a way to engage the fashion community in Saudi Arabia with social responsibility. And this is how Sketch&Give was created. It’s an initiative that was launched in May 2020, that consisted of gathering a maximum number of sketches inspired by the period we were living in, resulting to donate an outfit to the people in need, for each sketch shared. By doing so, we were able to involve design students as well as fashion designers, retailers and NGOs for one humanitarian cause. In less than 2 weeks, the initiative gathered over 2,000 sketches and raised over US$300,000 which totaled in 11,000 outfits donated.

What are your techniques for staying positive?
The ultimate booster was simply keeping myself busy. Investing myself in creation and design and involving myself in new projects, new initiatives to help the people in need. I also hosted a number of Instagram Lives, interacting with my followers as well having constructive talks with specialists from different fields in addition to attending online seminars, some related to business, self-development and some others just for fun!

What are your hopes for the future?
I am hoping that all the kindness and humanity shown during these tough months remain with us all. And I am also hoping that normal life resumes shortly for the businesses and economy to recover from the damages.

What’s the first thing you want to do when the world is a safer place?
Give a huge hug to every person that I couldn’t hug during this whole time by fear of putting their life at risk. One should never underestimate the power of sharing love and affection.

What message do you have for Grazia readers?
Human kind evolves, and part of our growth is to learn how to accept the change and adapt to it.
This challenging period has also proven that we are all human, regardless of which continent we come from; our unity will always make us stronger in standing by each other’s side and landing a helping hand to one another.


Honayda Serafi’s gratitude list:

1. 2020 hasn’t been easy on a lot of people, but we’ve learned to make the best out of it. This pandemic has made me realise how grateful I am to technology, it kept me connected with the outside world while stuck at home. Being at home with the family had made us all more creative to keep ourselves busy with plenty of activities that enriched our mind and soul.

2. I am very grateful for nature. The minute I was walking on the sand by the sea and just listening to the sound of the waves and enjoying fresh air had made me thankful and grateful for what I’m enjoying. I feel we are blessed as humans, that we can adapt to build a better future.

Photos: Supplied