Safiah Alaquil

Creative Designer

I am a Saudi-Argentine creative designer who was born in San Francisco. My fascination with world cultures was the motivation behind the founding of Badawiah. 

Growing up in a mixed-culture household, and traveling at an early age, I learned that each country is culturally unique. Its people, traditions, food, and handicrafts continually impact my growth and development. With every country I visited, I realized what a powerful and humbling experience each place was, and how they helped mold and develop me as a person.


Traveling has taught me how important it is to grow as an individual. This growth happens when we are exposed to other cultures and environments. The more we are exposed, the faster we grow, and the more humble we become. Seeing how other people live around the world, whether they are less or more fortunate than we are, makes us much more appreciative of what we do or do not have.

It was no longer enough for me to simply explore different cultures. I wanted to understand them and contribute what I could to society, as a favor returned. 

Badawiah is my fair trade clothing brand and boutique in Jeddah. It is based on traditional and ethnic designs from around the world. I create a link between cultures by applying handmade designs from local artisans to our local traditional clothing, which is mainly the Saudi abaya. So far, I have done five collections using textiles from Ethiopia, the Philippines, India, Peru, and Argentina. 

I chose Badawiah as a name because it is a beautiful Arabic word that reflects authenticity and heritage. This word is being used nowadays with a negative connotation. I wanted to change that and normalize the use of the word with an attachment to beauty and art and make people see Badawiah in another light. This is why I decided to name the women’s line Badawiah and the men’s line Badawi. 

At Badawiah, I work with artisans worldwide and donate part of the proceeds toward sustainable impact projects for children in need. For instance, with the Philippine donations, we used it to build a school performance stage in a rural neighborhood. These kinds of projects have a broader impact on society, therefore I prefer them over monetary donations. 

Badawiah is where I express the humanitarian and creative aspects of my personality. I am committed to enjoying what I do and avoiding the stressful condition that the fashion industry imposes on designers. Fashion should be more about creativity and less about rules and guidelines, in my opinion. 

At Badawiah, I work with artisans worldwide and donate part of the proceeds toward sustainable impact projects for children in need.

Take the abaya for example. My view is that it’s a way to complement my outfit in a decent way rather than cover it up. That’s why my designs are unique in that sense. They add a pop of color and twist to our traditional attire. 

I’ve always wanted to incorporate another love and hobby of mine into Badawiah… baking. I love the joy that food brings to people, especially sweets. This is why I would love to expand into a small cozy café that will incorporate delicacies from around the world. Aside from that hobby, I love spontaneous adventures, world music, foreign films, documentaries, and art. These are things that inspire me. 

Growing up in a mixed-culture environment had its challenges as a child. However, as I grew older, I understood that it had a huge positive impact on my life. I feel very fortunate to come from such a diverse heritage, and to be able to express and share that through my designs. I love bridging the gap between cultures and exposing each tradition and heritage to each other.

We are a family of six – my Saudi father, Argentine mother, my three older brothers, and me. In many ways, I don’t feel like I’m the youngest because of how close we all are. Throughout the years I took on many roles: Mom, older sister, friend and, lastly, the youngest child. When it comes to life experiences, the most significant advantage of being the youngest in the family is that you learn from your siblings. They have guided me and helped me to grow into the person I am today.

I’m also very grateful to my parents for how they raised us. They gave us endless love and support and, most importantly, the freedom to make our own choices. They gave us advice but never imposed their opinions, which was extremely helpful on a personal and professional level. 

I currently also work as the deputy director of Bear Hugs International Preschool. It is a preschool my mother started in 2003. I grew up with it, and have always loved working with kids. This is a great learning experience for me and, moreover, working by my mother’s side everyday is also very rewarding. Children live life without a filter. They are transparent, honest, and being around them on a daily basis is very fulfilling.

I studied in the US, Saudi Arabia, and Argentina, before returning to California to obtain my undergraduate degree in psychology and art history. Moreover, I was homeschooled for four years during my mid-teens, which opened up my eyes to all different cultures. What I lacked in not attending a physical school was compensated for by the first-hand experiences I had through traveling. Although there are pros and cons to everything in life, if I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. What I learned in those years had a significant and continuous positive impact on my personality to this day. 

One goes through many difficulties in life. However, looking at it from a positive aspect will make it a lot easier to accept and to take it as an enriching experience. My life has taught me that sometimes when we choose to move toward a specific goal, we gain so much more from the process itself than the actual goal we aspired to reach. 

In addition, no matter how much you plan for your life, in the end, life will unfold in ways that you have no control over and 2020 is a perfect example of that. In fact, the only thing you can control is your actions in the current moment, so try to be positive and work towards life goals. My personal long-term goal is to live a life that my parents and I would be proud of. I want to learn and experience everything this beautiful life has for us. 

Follow Safiah Alaquil
Instagram: @badawiah