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5 Minutes With... Azima Musayeva

by Azima Musayeva

Azima Musayeva is a London-based, high-end women's accessories brand, focusing on luxurious lace collars and cuffs. Throughout her travels around world, designer Azima has always held a fascination for texture, layering and inspiring ways to add just the perfect amount of glamour. The brand works directly with women artisans in Baku, Azerbaijan where pieces can take up to eight hours to complete. We sat down with founder Azima to learn more about the brand.

How did Azima Musayeva begin?

The idea of designing cuffs and collars came to me in 2017 while I was working in the fiduciary industry. One time, I designed cuffs for myself and decided to wear them to work-related event. The event was organised by one of the industry experts in the field of female entrepreneurship and she immediately noticed my cuffs when welcoming me at the beginning. Then after her speech she came up to me and asked about the cuffs and congratulated me.

What is more, the next day I received an email with an advice, from one of the attendees, that I cherish and live by to this day: if you don’t do it now, someone else will. I gradually started sketching and researching after work as a hobby and soon noticed that cuffs and collars can change a look instantly from business attire to a statement elegant outfit. At the end of 2017, I made a decision to quit my job and share my vision with the world. With the support from family, friends and fashion experts, I officially launched the brand in February 2018.

Have you always been interested in fashion? 

Absolutely! I have always focused on finding my personal style with the help fashion and I try to avoid seasonal fads and trends - hence why, I often design my own dresses for big events and outings. I often incorporate lace into my outfits, both in gowns and accessories, due to its delicacy and luxurious feel. 

What have been the highest and lowest points on your journey so far? 

Every time I see my designs worn by customers and receive genuinely positive feedback from them,  I am overwhelmed with joy and pride. I love to witness my cuffs and collars helping to empower and boost the confidence of women wearing them. It is the most rewarding feeling.

On the other hand, dealing with the impacts of politics and the pandemic recently has meant that increased amounts of time and resources are spent on day-to-day operations. It took the brand several months to adjust into a new reality and find the balance with manufacturers and deliver in a timely and efficient manner.

What are the morals you run your brand by? 

We are sustainable to the core and Azima Musayeva runs in line with several moral principles, making each piece unique and eco-conscious. Our impact on the world around us is a priority to us. We care about the effect we have from both an environmental and socioeconomic standpoint. 

Our workshop in Azerbaijan is run by a community of women. All our pieces are handmade and we are proud to work with women who perfect every piece with skill and dedication. We recognise their unwavering commitment with wages which provide financial independence. As we grow, they grow. We also source our fabrics from Europe with a special focus on those that are in short supply or end of stock. Recently we have started partnering with couture houses in London to use beautiful pieces of fabric which would otherwise be thrown away. 

At Azima Musayeva, we feel privileged to work with small workshops and produce our styles, by hand, in small quantities to minimise any waste. Our aim is to express beauty and creativity in every piece whilst keeping our production small and exclusive in the spirit of slow fashion and sustainable luxury.

What was the inspiration behind your latest collection? 

I find inspiration in the world around me: art, history, strong female figures. I treat every collar or pair of cuffs individually. For me, it is a process of creating a work of art. The 2021 collection, entitled La Maison, was inspired by the current situation in the world – the pandemic. During this unusual time our work and social life has been challenged to adapt to new reality through online communication, such as video calls. Having experienced this personally, I realised the importance of brand’s classics - lace cuffs and collars - in elevating a simple everyday look.

La Maison presents statement pieces that are easy to incorporate with any garment and can refine any look. Both collars and cuffs can be worn all year long in many different combinations.

How would you describe your customer base? 

I would describe my target customer as a strong, confident, and elegant woman with hints of edginess and extravagance at times. Everyone who wears our creations want to feel empowered, unique and often have a desire to catch people’s attention and make heads turn. They also appreciate the fact that all cuffs and collars are made by hands of our female artisans in Baku and want to support these local communities. 

Do you ever struggle to stay inspired? 

I am constantly looking, exploring and researching new things to stay inspired. Lack of inspiration or creativity is not desired in my profession and that’s why it is important to stay open-minded, be brave and curious about things and never hesitate to ask questions. 

Is there anyone you would love to see wearing your designs? 

There is a whole list of future Azima Musayeva muses which includes worldwide style icons who are not afraid to take fashion risks and always experiment with their looks. Some names include Madonna, Duchess of Cambridge, Paris Hilton, Blake Lively, Sarah Jessica Parker and Alicia Keys.

Do you have a mentor? 

I admire many successful businesswomen and entrepreneurs and they act as mentors to me. It is particularly exciting to see a female-led business being successfully executed and performing well for their customers. Besides, I can always count on my closest family and friends who always support my decisions. 

If you could only wear one piece from your collection, what would it be and why? 

I put all my heart and passion into every single piece. Some of them take up to 8 hours to sew by hand. One particular piece from my recent collection would be Agatha Collar, which comes in regular and oversized versions. It is a multi-layered collar made from white pleated dotted lace. It is finished at the neck with a black velvet ribbon. The collar is a style statement ideal for autumn layering and elevating even a simple look. 

Is there another designer whose work you particularly admire? 

I have always admired Coco Chanel as a designer and entrepreneur. She was truly a visionary who revolutionised the world of fashion while staying authentic to her values. Her designs had a distinctive aesthetic: elegant, feminine and have a chic Parisian and unique timelessness to them. I want my designs to be as universal and enjoyed for years to come.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? 

Be unique, be different. Play by your own rules and never give up. These are the tips I try to live by when making both creative and business decisions. 

What drew you to Wolf & Badger? 

Wolf & Badger has been on my stockists radar for a long time and I was thrilled to find out that Azima Musayeva will be stocked on the platform. The store has a well-established reputation for being one of the best independent designer retailers in the UK so it was a natural decision for me to apply. Besides, Wolf & Badger’s sustainability efforts, including recent B-Corp certification, are in line with Azima Musayeva’s values: an eco-conscious, slow fashion movement.

Where do you see the brand in 5 years? 

I would love to expand my brand internationally and secure the stockists in the USA, Middle East and Asia. I see myself collaborating with other creatives and designers in the industry as well as dressing celebrities for awards galas. Besides, I would love to keep designing and have artistic freedom to share my ideas with the world and eventually be able to present my designs during London Fashion Week.