Karima Riachy is the founder of Domakaya, a London-based hand-made accessory line which she started with her mother and two sisters in December 2002. Thebrand consists of handmade knitted and crocheted materials that are truly one of a kind. Knitting is an art that was introduced into the family by Karima’s mother, and quickly became a passion for the Riachy girls.
The carefully crafted articles at Domakaya include hats, hand-warmers, handbags, scarves, shawls, ponchos, and headbands. These accessories are so detailed that no two articles are exactly alike.
Domakaya was recently launched in Saks Fifth Avenue in the US, and also featured in Vogue, Teen Vogue, Instyle and Elle, along with many other renowned magazines. The brand is currently limited to women and children but will soon be branching out to menswear as well.
Q. Why did you call your line “Domakaya?”
A. It’s the first two letters of all the women in my family, so my mother is called Doris, my older sister is Maria, Karima (me), and my younger sister Yasmina.
Q. When did you decide to start a clothing line?
A. I decided to take a gap year after my A-levels. I always enjoyed knitting and crochet and decided to take it up as a full time hobby for a few weeks. I then realised that friends and family were showing a strong interest in what I was making and started to ask for things for themselves. Eventually, Maria, Doris and I organised a big house sale and it went so well we decided to register the company and really go for it.
Q. You started the brand with your mother and two sisters.
How is it working with family? Does it ever become overwealming?
A. Sometimes it definitely does because everyone needs to vent sometimes and that can end in a few arguments, but nothing ever last more than a few hours. The beauty of it all is that we can all be brutally honest with each other all the time and are solid support for one another.
Q. Describe a typical morning at the office.
Do your personal relationships automatically turn into professional relationships?
A. Usually my sister and I meet at the office in the morning with our beloved Starbucks. We go over everything that needs to be done that day and week and try and get it all done. Sometimes we are away from each other all day running around at meetings etc. and other times we are together in the office all day. I might be working on samples and Maria will be working on promoting the brand.
Q. How did knitting become a passion that runs in the family?
A. My mum was taught how to knit and crochet by her grandmother and always had a love for it, so when I was old enough to understand what she was doing my mum taught me. It is a very therapeutic thing to do and creating fun, exciting things for yourself is a very inspiring thing.
Q. Where do you get your inspiration?
A. I get inspiration from everywhere: wildlife, street style, different cultures and art. I also love finding old vintage pieces and elaborating on them. I am constantly ripping things out of magazines and sketching in my scrapbooks. Sometimes, I think I am designing a bag and after a few hours it turns into something completely different. It’s a lot of experimenting.
Q. How would you describe your clientel?
A. I think Domakaya is a brand that has so many different elements to it, it can be worn by women of all ages and styles. I think there is something in it for everyone which is what I constantly strive for and what I love about it. Sometimes I see a 19 year old girl and a 50 year old woman wearing the same thing and it looks so beautiful on both and yet so different.
Q. What are your favorite brands and places to shop?
A. It depends what kind of mood I am in. Sometimes I love going to the markets in London like Portobello, especially when the weather is nice. I am also completely addicted to Topshop, I always find great things there. As for designers, I love Marc Jacobs, Balenciaga and Dolce and Gabanna. I also have a weakness for J Brand jeans and all Converse trainers.
Q. What are your hopes for the future of the brand?
A. We are constantly working on expanding the brand worldwide. We hope to eventually open our own store here in London. For me that would be a dream!