We had the good fortune of connecting with Meriam Chedli and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Meriam, maybe we can start at the very start – the idea – how did you come up with the idea for your business?
Ever since I was a child, I knew I wanted to create something, either a project to help others in need or a place where we could gather, a place of exchange, where we feel good. Thanks to my parents who are from Tunisia, in Northern Africa, I have a multicultural background. I was actually born and raised in the most beautiful place on earth, in the South Kivu Region of DR Congo. My story started in the heart of Africa, in a small town called Bukavu, where mother earth showcases her most breathtaking elements!
I’ve always had the chance to live and evolve in different cultures and I consider myself privileged to have been raised in this type of environment where diversity, curiosity and tolerance were our values. It influenced the way I live and the choices I made my entire life.
Fast forward, and as life is full of surprises, I moved from Europe to Florida. And this is when I really felt the need to connect even more with my background and what I’ve always been fascinated by. So I decided to share my love for unique and rich textiles with bold and dainty prints like the African wax prints. These unique textiles have a very rich history with influences from different parts of the world. It is celebrated and an important part of the African cultural identity. Early on, I learned from my mother the beauty and the powerful messages behind the fascinating textile worn with pride and elegance by women in some parts of Africa.
This is how I launched Bahaari in Orlando, in 2018. A globally inspired lifestyle brand celebrating the beauty that surrounds us, culture and ‘joie de vivre.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The Bahaari Collection is a globally inspired fashion and lifestyle brand for you and your home. We offer distinctive small-batch collections of handbags, clutches, fashion accessories, jewelry and we recently launched a new line of duster kimonos. We also offer a joyful and colorful collection of home goods and original pieces that bring ‘joie de vivre’. All our pieces are carefully hand-crafted with vibrant and colorful African wax prints.
We are inspired by the slow fashion movement. I believe true quality takes time. All pieces are handmade with Dutch wax prints which is the highest quality of African wax prints that I source in limited quantity. I deeply value each product I release, which is why my handbags and accessories are limited editions. So there is no mass production in our collection. We create distinctive pieces we know you’ll love.
All our designs are bold and elegant handmade luxury statement pieces that are personal adornments for a lifetime. When designing, I always very intentionally mesh three elements: high quality and durability of the material sourced, a beautiful versatility and functionality to complement your style.
I design and handcraft all our collections in my studio in Orlando.
I take pride in designing and hand-crafting our line. Working with such textile is a celebration of universality, culture and identity. But most of all, the vibrant colors of the African wax print is a women affair, a real empowerment tool for women where each print is a story, a symbolism shared by many, a code of communication. I always say the African wax print evolves with our society and reinvents itself through time. All the handbags and accessories are definitely a beautiful way to express yourself and add joy to your every day life!
This passion for cultures and global heritage has become the story of Bahaari. My hope is you feel that same connection – that warmth of diversity – and that these one-of-a-kind pieces will complement your own story and style. You can discover the Bahaari collection on www.Bahaari.com and follow our journey on instagram.com/bahaari_ea
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Living in Florida makes us lucky in terms of the access to the beautiful nature and seaside. I would suggest visiting Audubon Park area and especially with a stop at East End market. I feel this is where the heart of Orlando beats. You have a line of wonderful small businesses gathered in one place from food, drinks to local makers. After a small shopping session vintage finds at The Owl’s Attic, enjoying a good ramen at Domu.
Sipping a cocktail at happy hour at The Neighbor’s while shopping local gifts from Orlando makers.
I would also take a trip to the west coast of Florida! Starting with a delicious brunch at Oxford Exchange in Tampa and taking a small walk around the river walk, enjoying the architecture of the opulent Henry B. Plant Museum built during the 1880’s. I would then take a stroll in St Pete’s streets, visit small boutiques, enjoy the amazing murals and end the afternoon enjoying the abundance of natural beauty of Fort De Soto beach.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would start with my parents who have raised us to be open, curious and most of all cultivate resilience. Starting a business is a huge leap of faith, a labor of love but also a mission, a purpose we want to share with people. It can be a lifetime project we grow with and, it’s important to have a solid family or friends system you can rely on in the good and in the more difficult times. And I’m lucky to have my husband Jon here by my side who always cheers me on and with whom I can exchange on the growth of Bahaari.
Also I must say, that one thing that makes a huge impact on the success of this life adventure, is the constantly present and wonderful community of Orlando and central Florida. I don’t know if I would have been able to continue without their immense support and love for me and my handcrafted collection of joyful accessories. They are really unique and wonderful in supporting small businesses!
Photo by Disruptive Studio & Taylor H. Models: Heather K. , Rachel D., Yari, Makeup Artist: Lynne Schaffer