We recently had the privilege of meeting talented designer Naouel Bekkaie, whose work caught our eye at a pop-up store held in the Marais over Paris Fashion Week. After being immediately drawn to her bags — for their beauty, color, practicality and their empowering lightning bolt logo — we were curious to learn more about the brand, Il Etait Un Fil, and the designer behind it.
As Naouel shares her journey into the fashion world (which began only 5 years ago), her authenticity and passion are immediately evident. There’s a certain intensity in her way of speaking that reveals her as an artist who is ambitious and wise, as well as very committed to her values. The brand name, Il Etait Un Fil, translates in English to something close to ‘Once Upon A Thread‘, which expresses its designer’s philosophy: that life is a journey meant to be lived fully, comprised of travels, diversity and rich experiences.
Passion for Asia. Bekkaie’s path to becoming a designer was not part of her plan. She first had a successful 10-year career in Public Relations working for premier brands, including LVMH and Philip Morris. However, despite being a top salesperson in a very competitive field, Naouel felt something pulling her away from her hometown of Marseille, and toward Asia. Since she was 15 and a close friend of her mother’s from China inspired her, Naouel became intrigued by this part of the world. And this feeling never left her. Naouel began learning more and more about this part of the world that captivated her so much. Even while living in France and having a high-powered job, she remained a dedicated student of Mandarin and never allowed her passion to fade.
In 2008, Naouel took a 1-year sabbatical from work and packed her bags for China, where she studied Mandarin at Shanghai University. She chose to stay with locals in order to immerse herself in the culture, where she found a new appreciation for hard work and gratitude for the luxuries available in her native France.
First Collection Sells Out in 11 Days. After one year, Naouel returned to France and her previous job, though she felt part of her spirit was still in Asia. Over the holidays, she traveled to the Souk in Morocco, where she again felt inspired by the experience of travel. She was intoxicated by the scent of leather and all the vibrant colors in the souk; this led to the creation of her first collection, Nana, 200 clutch bags embroidered with Buddha symbolism. In 11 days, they sold out.
This positive experience led Naouel to delve deeper into the fashion world, where she was able to express her love of her travel and of different cultures in a beautiful and connective way. Her next release, Sakura, was a collection of bags inspired by Asia and India (where they were made), and required her to study intricate stitching and design. With each of her product releases Bekkaie learned more and became increasingly passionate about using her bags as a meaningful form of expression.
Naouel didn’t leave her job until she had released several bag collections. She found a way to balance her job with what she was most passionate about. Like many of us, she had no choice. Sometimes we need to do things to sustain our lives, while our passions sustain our hearts. Until you’re ready to take the plunge. We applaud Naouel for her courage, commitment and success with Il Etait Un Fil.
Stylish + Positive + Practical. We are in love with the latest collection by L’Etait Un Fil (pictured here) and think you will be too. These bags and pouches come in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and colors – from simple black, to metallic shades, to bright green, pink, red, white and blue. There’s enough of a variety that you’ll be sure to find something that appeals your unique sense of style. And it will definitely appeal to your sense of practicality. With a portable battery and all the necessary cords attached inside, you’ll never run out of juice during a nonstop day on the go. You can be assured not to miss an important call or email. In addition, the bags are of high quality, made from a range of different types of leather (Naouel mentioned she would like to follow up with a leather-free collection too). The collection will soon be available in New York and Los Angeles; in the meantime, the entire collection is available on the website (smaller pouches begin at 129 Euros).
Article in L’Officiel Magazine: L’Etait Un Fil will be featured in the November 20th issue of prestigious fashion magazine L’Officiel (French edition). We are thrilled for the brand and for kickass designer Naouel Bekkaie, who is living her dream by passionately working her ass off.
As Naoeul’s story reminds us, nothing about your current work or life situation needs to be permanent. All is possible. Your happiness is worth it. With passion, hard work, determination, and resilience, dreams really do come true.