Growing up between the US and Afghanistan was inspiration enough to start creating the first original pieces for what would one day become Blingistan. My jewelry taste has, was and always will be big, gold hoops, sexy chokers and hands laden with rings. I wanted to create a line of unique jewelry, that was fun, kind of kitschy, expressed pride and respect in one’s heritage(s), whatever it may be, but also stay true to the essence of the $1 hoochie hoops I grew up wearing.
There is so much jewelry to buy in the world but little for marginalized peoples, and very little that is cute, affordable and won't tarnish. I would be buying the same $1 hoop every other week because it was so cheaply made (hence the price) it would rust, turn my skin green, break, etc. but they were so damn cute I just couldn't help it! Blingistan is partly influenced by this- jewelry that is affordable, well-made, gold-plated and can be worn by anyone and everyone! That is why all of our models are real people, and give them a space to tell us a little bit about themselves, we don't care sizes, we care about feeling comfortable in Blingistan bling!
I couldn't go to Santee Alley in LA and buy a choker that said Allah Akbar, I couldn't buy jewelry that completely expressed who I was. I just didn’t see it- I didn’t see what I wanted to wear. I wanted sass, badassery, I wanted heritage, I wanted pride, I wanted chic yet fun, statement pieces and everyday jewelry, playful, sexy, conversation starters. I wanted it all. So I just started making it. 15 years old and having grown up in the West, memories of door-knocker earrings filled my mind, whilst I was living in a third world country (Afghanistan). Why not just create what I wanted to wear and share it with the world?
We are the rebellious, the freaks, the descendants of immigrants, the PoC's, the politically-conscious, the ones who want to express ourselves with what we wear.
[We also are dedicated to giving back, and a percentage of profits will be donated to charities both in Afghanistan and elsewhere.]
Shamayel, co-founder and designer of Blingistan, in a handmade (by her) Afghan flag mini-dress, with PBR cans in her hair as curlers, wearing the "Kabul House Essential Barb Wire" Hoop earrings.
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