Tell us a bit about yourself.
I'm a free-spirited, fashion-loving, multi-cultural citizen of the world. I moved to Australia when I was very little. I identify as an Afghan-Australian radio presenter. I love Bollywood, Afghan music and radio. I'm bubbly, I believe in the power of expressing your dreams, and I love meeting new people.
How did you get started as a fashion designer?
My journey into fashion began last year when I returned from a trip to Afghanistan, where I was hosting a TV programme featuring and tasting the street food of Kabul. It was an incredible experience, and I was so grateful and fortunate to be surrounded by different types of food throughout the city. We visited different areas and markets where I saw different colours and materials.
After the trip, I was so inspired to incorporate these colours and images into my life. I redecorated my house with more vibrant colours and started wearing diverse hues that merged the two sides of my personality and culture. The fusion of East and West represents my taste in fashion and my identity—this is how Espand, as a brand and a concept, was born.
Tell us about your fashion brand, Espand by Maz and what inspires your designs?
Afghanistan is such an inspiration, a place where you can enhance yourself. The land itself has such a beautiful, exciting and emotional story. The people are so full of love, despite experiencing turmoil. There are different cultures within Afghanistan, and this diversity is reflected in the fabrics, materials and accessories that Afghan people use.
If you have seen the traditional Afghan dress, you will notice how unique and vibrant it is. They are beautifully handcrafted, and each design is unique to its own region within Afghanistan. I decided to merge these beautiful Afghan elements together with denim and let the Afghan material shine through the designs.
Describe your creative process.
My creative process is basically my head designer and I sitting through a pile of material and choosing which ones stand out, or which materials marry together in a beautiful union of colours. We sit through piles of materials for hours and sometimes get lost in the colours. We choose vintage materials, coins, pearls and shells. It's a beautiful, enriching process which is very dear to my heart.
How does life as a radio presenter compare to being a fashion designer?
Life as a radio presenter is incredibly exciting! Each day is different, and we learn how to think on our own feet. It's definitely enriching, fun and creative. In radio, we learn how to balance things. The music, content, listeners and the callers—everything you listen to on-air is a beautiful balance of yin and yang, making it easy, and enjoyable to listen to.
These skills have also taught me how to be creative in different areas of my life. The creativity and drive has filtered through my life with Espand, which is all about reinventing designs and making sure I listen to what the audience and customer wants.
You are proof that “You can have it all”—how do you balance your career and being an entrepreneur?
I'm not sure if I have it all, but I definitely listen to affirmations daily that tell me I do! I believe in enriching your life with abundance—to believe you have it all before you do. I think it's very important to have hobbies and keep your life creative and interesting.
There's a saying—to find three hobbies that you love: one to make you money, one to keep you in shape, and one to keep you creative.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to branch out into entrepreneurship?
My advice would be, just start! The conversations, research, stats, budget—it all just stalls you. Just start! A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. If you just do a little bit each day, it will help and before you know it you've started a business!
Who/what inspires you with awe?
The two people that inspire me the most in my life are my parents. My parents left Afghanistan as refugees in the late 1980s in difficult circumstances. With the aid of a smuggler and with three starving children to protect, they escaped on horseback past searching helicopters and the threat of the patrolling army. Eventually, my family crossed the border safely and moved to Australia as refugees and skilled migrants. They overcame so many adversities and obstacles and are still positive every single day. They have always taught my siblings and I to be positive and dream big, to not dwell on the small things and believe anything is possible. Whenever I feel like I have an issue or stress in my life, I try and think of all the hardships they went through, and it gives me motivation and power to keep going.
How do you look after your mental health?
I listen to daily affirmations and meditate. I think mental health is one of the most important aspects of our lives. We all go through ups and downs, trials and tribulations. Each day is a new day, and we learn more about ourselves. I think surrounding yourself with positive people is incredibly important. You are a sum of the five people you are friends with, so choose wisely!
What’s that one quote you live by?
One of my favourite quotes is by Rumi: Everything from the universe is within you—ask all from yourself.
We have the power to manifest anything. Nothing ever stays the same in our lives: circumstances change, people come and go, but learning the art of letting go and trusting in the process is one of the most powerful things you can do. I'm learning this on the daily. The universe has your back!