Hina Israr is the co-founder of Zaabel, an eclectic fine jewelry brand. Born in India, Hina has led a multicultural life. She grew up in the bustling metropolis of Dubai and traveled around the world. She is now based in Seattle with her husband and toddler. Her travels—from minimalist Tokyo streets to byzantine Turkish churches, from pristine Melbourne beaches to chaotic Delhi markets—have served as inspirational fodder for her creations. Her nomadic soul translates into her eclectic designs.
After spending years as an investment banker, playing the numbers game with her strong analytical skills, Hina decided to do a 180-degree change, and explore her creative side. Looking back, it makes sense that Hina became a jewelry designer—after all, Dubai is all about intricate ornaments, and she spent her childhood entranced by the Gold souks there.
When Hina is not admiring the grandiose architecture in the old, cobblestoned streets of Catalona, she is encouraging her delightful 2-year-old daughter to explore freely, without worrying about boundaries (within reason) or messes. It is Hina’s own fiery, independent spirit that epitomizes the one-of-a-kind designs at Zaabel.
At Zaabel, each piece is unique and carefully-crafted, with its own story to tell. With wedding season in full force, this is a great brand for the alternative bride. Or if you simply want to indulge yourself or a close one, check out these striking and unconventional baubles. You can buy these exquisite pieces at retailers like Virago Gallery and J Chapa Hernandez Jewelers, or order them online here.
From tracking the numbers on Wall Street to creating beautifully filigreed earrings, and everything in between; Hina talks to us about her beautiful journey so far…
Seattleite: Could you tell us a bit about your background?
Hina Israr: I am a travel junkie, a voracious reader, and a jewelry addict. Ethnically an Indian, I grew up in the Middle East and have previously lived in Dubai, India, and Australia. I am an ex-Investment banker and Private Equity Investor. As a designer and a small business owner, I juggle between the exciting and the mundane.
Seattleite: At what age did you develop an interest in jewelry? How did you/your surroundings nurture that interest?
Hina: My fascination with Jewelry is very old and relates to my Indian roots where jewelry has traditionally been an heirloom, passed on from one generation to the other. My mother is a jewelry collector and in my childhood, we made endless trips to the sprawling ‘gold souks’ (traditional Arabic jewelry markets). I always had an attraction with gemstones and textured gold. My travels, particularly to Turkey and Japan further exposed me to the intricacies of contemporary craftsmanship and how it was being used in different cultures to communicate different narratives. The possibilities were very exciting, and I knew that it was a matter of time before I ventured into my own design-related enterprise.
Seattleite: How was Zaabel conceived?
Hina: Zaabel was conceived as a collaborative effort between my friend Sooryia and myself. We have a similar passion for design, contemporary craftsmanship, and attention to detail. Our design sensibilities are harmonious and we both believe in taking risks and pushing boundaries in our creative expression. Being a team gives us an extra dose of confidence and spunk.
Seattleite: What is your design process like?
Hina: There is a conceptualization stage, which is possibly the most critical stage. Our collections are inherently delicate, even where the designs are edgy and bohemian. Once we conceptualize our story, it takes multiple sketch iterations to agree on the most effective design to communicate that story. Before we finalize a design to include in our collection, we consider production feasibility, production costs, and time to market.
Seattleite: How is your partnership with Sooryia like? What are your core competencies?
Hina: It’s a very seamless partnership. We are both stakeholders and there are no demarcations in responsibilities. We both contribute equally to the creative process and challenge each other with our critical thinking. I think we bring out the best in each other. We are both very conscientious about contributing to Zaabel, and ultimately, it’s a passion project for both of us.
Seattleite: What is the Zaabel woman like?
Hina: The Zaabel woman is fierce in expressing her individuality. She pursues originality and is not deterred by complexity. She is aware of her inherent capriciousness and embraces it.
Seattleite: What is the Zaabel bride like?
Hina: The Zaabel Bride is pretty much the same as the Zaabel Woman. Taking from that, the Zaabel bride is fierce in expressing her individuality. She pursues originality and embraces adventure. Since 2020 has been a year of uncertainties, our rotating Hope necklace which is inscribed with the message ‘The Darkest nights have the brightest Stars’ is well suited to signify the energy of the year and is perfect for the bridal trousseau. Our Tree of Life and Constellation earrings are perfect as a statement piece
Seattleite: What is your biggest source of inspiration?
Hina: My travels are my biggest source of inspiration. The arches in a historical building, the contours of nature, and the futurism of media all make it to the list 😊
Seattleite: As a seasoned traveler and businesswoman – how do you find the Seattle customer/market different?
Hina: Seattleites are always on the look-out for unique objects and experiences. We love the vibe of the city. It’s an ideal market for us to be in.
Seattleite: If not a jewelry designer, what would you be?
Hina: Possibly a textile designer.