For as long as she can remember, Jihene has lived in two worlds: one foot in the Middle East, the other in Europe.
Her childhood in Tunisia was a riot of colours, sounds and smells: afternoons spent wandering the silk and leather souks in Tunis, or watching the artisans at work in her ancestral village. Jihene comes from a family of tailors and embroiderers in Mahdiya, an ancient centre of weaving and seafaring trade on the Tunisian coast.
It was once the Roman city of Africa—Ifriqqiyah to the medieval Moors—and is famous throughout the region for its artisanal goods and elaborate traditional costumes. During the annual festivals, Jihene and the women of her family would spend hours preparing these intricate garments, a ritual filled with gossip, laughter and scented tea.
Her passion for artisanal tailoring and embroidery has its roots in Mahdiya, and these joyful hours in the company of her mother and aunts.
Dissatisfied with the options she found in local boutiques, she,began to alter her
clothing herself as a teenager, using the tailoring skills passed down from her
family, and inspired by the latest trends in Paris Vogue.
It was then that friends first began asking her about her outfits, and enlisting her help to renovate their own wardrobes:
“Pourquoi tu ne vendes pas ces choses”, they would ask of her creations — “why don’t you sell these things?”
In the years that followed, a Master’s degree, a successful career in marketing, a whirlwind romance and marriage, three beautiful children,
and a move with her family to Kuwait intervened. But Jihene never lost track
of her dream. She spent time in Paris studying with couturiers, and completed an
MBA from the Maastricht School of Management, with an eye to finally running
her own business.
In 2012, ATYPIK launched its first capsule collection: a pop-up featuring colourful kaftans and handbags, at an exposition in Kuwait. It was sold out in three days. Follow-up capsules were similarly successful, with Arab celebrities and society women snapping up Jihene’s trendy, romantic designs.