By Pam Kragen
The San Diego Union-Tribune
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Sarah Ansari is a banker-turned-fashionista who makes and markets Islamic art-inspired modest clothing to Muslim women around the world.
On a wind-swept oceanfront catwalk in Encinitas on Sunday afternoon, a team of models swept past rows of admiring customers at Artizara’s first independent fashion show.
The women — wearing high heels, flowing calf-length dresses and long-sleeved tunics with pants — looked like any other models in cool-weather attire, except one sported a turban and two others were in headscarves.
This was a coming-out party, of sorts, for part-time Encinitas resident Sarah Ansari, a banker-turned-fashionista who makes and markets Islamic art-inspired modest clothing to Muslim women around the world.
Ansari and a friend started Artizara 15 years ago as a way to creatively celebrate their Muslim identity after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Ansari said the tragedies led much of the American public to think of all Muslims as the same and in a negative light.
“We were being seen as a collective, but we’re so diverse,” said Ansari, who moved to the U.S. from Pakistan 30 years ago with her husband, cardiologist Athar Ansari. “As a Muslim-American, I had a desire to do something about it and fashion was a way to show that diversity.”
Operating from a 4,000-square-foot warehouse in El Cajon, Ansari leads a 4-member team of designers and staff in creating and shipping orders to the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Middle East, Africa and more.
Although Artizara, found online at artizara.com, makes some items for men and children, most of its customers are women, the majority between the ages of 18 and 25.
Ansari doesn’t disclose annual sales but she said Artizara is a small company with “moonshot” ambitions thanks to its market potential.