Posted on Jun 27, 2019
Haute Hijab Staff
If there is one person at Haute Hijab who perfectly embodies their position in this company, it's our Creative Director Gizelle Begler, who exists on a diet of sparkles, positivity, faith and all things creative! She is the heart and soul of the elevated and beautiful elegance and quality of our HH hijabs and products! But, did you know that she has also designed couture wedding gowns for the rich and famous of the Middle East? Or, that she thinks about living the hijab life every morning when she wakes up? Or, that her family has hilarious family ritual (or rather a way in which they teased Gizelle as a kid) that you have to read to believe?
You've never met someone quite like Gizelle, and as well as you think you may know her from our vlogs or other videos and social media appearances, you'll learn a whole new depth of fun and soulful things about her as she answers 15 fun (and a few deep) questions in our ongoing summer team-focused series - "15 Things You May Not Know About ... "
Gizelle at her finest, in a tiara, faux fur and with her cat, Mr. Sparkles!
1. What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Anything art-related! I love any opportunity to be creative - this includes drawing, painting, sculpting, making up songs, designing elaborate costumes for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade … the list is endless!
2. What are your hobbies? What are your dream hobbies?
I have always had this dream that I would purchase an unlivable, abandoned castle on an island somewhere. I would spend my summers there with my family fixing it up and making it this really incredible piece of livable art. I imagine painting ceiling-high murals of mermaids and sea creatures in metallic paint inside of it and having walls made up of mosaics of broken mirror pieces and crystal that would sparkle and throw light everywhere when greeted by the sun! This could be a place where one’s imagination could really soar, and anyone would be allowed and encouraged to create anything at all within its walls!
3. What is something you hate doing?
Writing about myself! If I could answer all of these questions in a grand collage of images, I absolutely would! I feel as though it would be a much more effective way of expressing myself!
4. If you could eat something on an endless loop - what would it be?
This is a tough question for the girl who eats everything. However, if I had to narrow it down, it would be my mom’s Egyptian stuffed grape leaves (the meat kind) with cucumber yogurt sauce 🤤! I truly could eat those forever … and ever … and ever.
Some of Gizelle's stunning artwork.
5. What feeds your soul/when are you at your happiest/best?
As a self-proclaimed mermaid, I find that I always need to be near a body of water. I love all things related to the ocean or sea, as it houses some of the world’s most wondrous art - the iridescent pastel rainbows that can be found on the inside of seashells, the changing colors of fish scales, bioluminescence in general, jellyfish tentacles, organisms that are completely transparent are all incredibly fascinating to me.
I could spend a lifetime basking in the beauty that Allah has surrounded us with, admiring colors that cannot be placed as well as ones that reflect metallic or shine differently in varying lights. I can only marvel at these remarkable creations and try my best to capture a small part of them in the designs that I create.
6. Who do you look up to most and why? (living or dead)
My mother, may she rest in peace. She was, is, and will always be my hero. Somehow she was able to balance faith, fashion, strength and good character. She was the most fabulous woman most people ever had the pleasure of meeting, and yet she was also the most righteous and upstanding. Everyday she would go out into the world and conquer it in the most vibrant shade of red lipstick! If I grow up to be half the woman she was, I will be a superhero!
7. What is something, if you could go back and change in your life, that you would?
Alhamd’Allah I truly don't have any regrets! While life has definitely not been easy, I feel as though every decision that I've made in my life and every hurdle that I've had to overcome has been for the sole purpose of leading me to exactly where I am right now.
Gizelle and her mom, who passed away in the winter of 2019.
8. What is/was your biggest challenge in life?
The biggest challenge that I have had to overcome in my life was easily the journey of losing my mother. Watching her grow weaker everyday, knowing that her condition was terminal and that nothing could be done, all while trying to continue on with my life and remain the happy, optimistic person that I am at work was really quite difficult. If someone once asked me what is your greatest fear in this dunya (world), my answer would easily be losing my mom. So when faced with that harrowing reality, I've learned that all you can really do is put your trust in God and have patience while waiting for pieces of His grand plan to fall into place.
9. What is something about you that people would be surprised to know?
I think people would be surprised to know that every morning while getting dressed I wonder if today is the day I should walk out in hijab. I contemplate wearing hijab nearly every single day. For someone who spends as much time as I do changing their hair color, I actually spend more time thinking about covering it up, haha!
10. What is that big dream thing you want to accomplish in life? Or if not one thing, a few things?
Alhamd’Allah I have always followed my dreams - and they have led me here! I have never wanted to do something and not completely gone for it!
When I graduated from college, I dreamed of designing elaborate gowns for princesses, so one year out of school, I moved to the Middle East and did just that! Shortly afterwards, I wanted to have my own wedding gown company to help women create the dresses they’ve always dreamed of, so I changed gears and opened up a bridal atelier in Cairo! Now that I'm older with some experience under my belt, I would like to use everything that I’ve learned from my education and travels to do whatever I can to help Muslim women feel beautiful and confident - and that is currently a dream in progress.
11. What is your favorite or not-so-favorite thing about working at a Muslim-owned company?
I especially love going to Jummah every Friday with several members of the team! Once a week, completely free from the guilt of leaving the office, we all get to step back from the stress of this dunya and take an hour to remember why we’re really here and what truly matters.
12. What does a typical Friday night look like for you?
Running home as fast as I possibly can and diving headfirst into my bed. Then rolling myself up in my heating blanket like a burrito and not moving until fajr on Saturday morning.
13. What’s the strangest or most fun family tradition you have?
Soooo this is incredibly weird, and I think it may be an Egyptian thing, but to discourage me from wearing short shorts while growing up, my grandmother and her relatives would all grab my inner thigh fat, and scream “LEB-LOOOOOOB!!!!!” (a made up word for thigh fat!) at the top of their lungs whenever my shorts would ride up and expose it! This would mortify me, causing me to quickly change into jeans so they couldn’t pinch it anymore! To this day whenever I see people in short shorts my brain is programmed to think "LEB-LOOB!!!!"
Mr. Sparkles, Gizelle's cat! This kitty needs his own Instagram!
14. Cat person or dog person (or some other kind of animal)?
Obviously I’m a cat person. I’m the proud mother of a cynical fashion cat named Mr. Sparkles. He came to live with me when I was working in Egypt, and he’s been my sleepy companion ever since. Mr. Sparkles travels everywhere with me and there’s even talk of him getting his own office at Haute Hijab.
Regardless, he’ll be famous soon so you must all prepare yourselves for that.
15. If you were to create a slogan for your life, what would it be and why?
“Shoot for the moon, because even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”
I’ve always had REALLY high expectations of myself as the moon has always been my primary target! And I’ve found that even if some of my goals are unrealistic or larger than life, by working tirelessly to achieve them, I’ve never ceased to grow, and I’ve accomplished some really incredible things!