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Rising Stars: Meet Saina Tchaas Nu

Today we’d like to introduce you to Saina Tchaas Nu.

Hi Saina Tchaas Nu, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I was raised in Washington, DC, which I believe is truly one of the most culturally diverse cities on the East Coast next to New York. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of growing up in pre-gentrified DC, aka “Chocolate City”, which it was often called. After completing my undergraduate studies at Georgetown University, I moved to NYC to pursue my law degree. New York was a city where I spent extensive time during my childhood and attending law school, there had long been one of my greatest aspirations. Adjusting to being a new Manhattan resident while also balancing the academic rigor of a legal curriculum was one of the most transformative and exciting challenges I had ever taken on. I embarked on my law school journey with the intent of becoming a criminal defense attorney, particularly for underserved minority populations who were incarcerated at vastly higher rates than other groups. In college, I remember being up late one night reading Michelle Alexander’s book “The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the age of Colorblindness”, and wanting to be a part of improving our justice system in any way I could. One of my first jobs in Law School was working in a legal clinic with attorneys from The Innocence Project, a non-profit organization who represents clients seeking post-conviction DNA testing to prove their innocence. Utilizing modern advances in DNA evidence, the organization works to exonerate wrongfully convicted individuals and advocate for national criminal justice reform. Seeing the impact that these exonerations had on the lives and communities of our clients and the flaws that they exposed in our system of jurisprudence became the primary source of motivation for my work.

While balancing my days at the courthouse with late nights of attending to my busy academic schedule, I soon turned to a creative outlet where I could explore more avenues of artistry and creativity. Growing up with a mother who designed many of my outfits and crafted most of my unique jewelry pieces, I was always drawn to the world of fashion. Living in New York also gave me the opportunity to attend my very first NYFW, which further sparked my creative passions. In 2013, during the Fall of my 2L year, I founded my creative brand, Nuri Nahara. I launched Nuri Nahara as a response to the ongoing need for unique garments that reflect the beauty of cultural diversity in our modern creative landscape. Our collections fuse stylistic and design elements from around the world to produce pieces for the socially conscious and style-savvy woman. I was intricately influenced by my love for garments I’ve encountered during my travels throughout Africa, The Caribbean, and Latin American. I worked diligently with close friends and a small group of models to curate my premier collection and produce some of my earliest shoots for the brand.

Fast forward to a law degree, several legal roles at entertainment companies (I’ll touch on this more later), and a cross-country move later, by 2018 our creative team had expanded significantly to include an all-Black lead design team, an all-female team of seamstresses, and an incredibly diverse group of models. This was immensely important to me, as I always wanted to provide more exposure and opportunities in fashion for women and people of color.

Circling back to my legal career, by my second and third years of law school, my love for fashion and entertainment had fully integrated with my academic coursework. The new creative projects I was working on for Nuri Nahara along with all of the amazing industry events I was attending in New York encouraged me to begin taking courses in Copyright, Trademarks, Entertainment Law, and Fashion Law. I became extremely passionate about protecting the legal rights of creators, and I wanted to ensure that I was extensively trained on how to do it. Growing up, I always loved theatre, dance, acting, and performance, so it felt amazing to get back to those creative roots, but this time from an entirely new lens of legal analysis.

By the time my 3L year arrived, I had already worked with the legal teams at notable fashion houses such as Chanel and top entertainment companies like Viacom and NBC. I was prepared to fully embark on a career in IP and Entertainment Law. After Law School, I began working in the field of Music Law with The RIAA, which represents some of the most iconic record labels in the country and works to protect the intellectual property and creative rights of music artists. The organization also administers the Gold & Platinum Program, which is one of the industry’s most notable forms of recognition for acknowledging streams and artistic impact in the modern music marketplace. I was able to learn so much during my time there and meet some of the greatest attorneys in the business.

Not too long after, I relocated to Los Angeles. Being in an environment where I could harmoniously merge both my career in Entertainment & Music Law as well as and my creative brand was refreshing and fulfilling to say the least. LA has been my home for about three years now, and it’s been one of the greatest changes of scenery I’ve ever experienced, both personally and for my career.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
There have certainly been many challenges along the way. My path has never been linear. There were countless twists and turns, and everyday I still faced new challenges. The only difference now is that I’m better at knowing how to handle anything that comes my way. I know now, more than ever, that anything is possible with determination and diligence. Knowing how to navigate difficult terrain is something that only comes with time and experience.

Being a young, Black female creative and businesswoman who wears many hats often poses its own set of unique challenges. As Saina the creator and Saina the lawyer, I frequently find myself in scenarios where I have to actively demonstrate my right to be in certain rooms or have a seat at certain tables in a way that wouldn’t be expected of others. I often get asked about how it’s possible for all of my various roles to co-exist. In the beginning, even I myself once questioned whether it was possible to do everything that I was passionate about in a way that was easily digestible and understandable to others. But realizing that your vision doesn’t always have to make sense to everyone is what will allow you to flourish. Knowing that the vision is yours to nurture, cultivate, and share with the world is what’s most important. Moving to LA definitely helped me to balance all of my pursuits in a healthy and fulfilling way. Here, it’s not uncommon to meet people who do a little bit of everything, so you never feel like the oddball wearing a lot of hats. It was the perfect place to expand my reach and collaborate with other like-minded creative professionals.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I’m a lawyer, brand architect, and creative director. My company, Nuri Nahara, is a vibrant collection of designs inspired by the timeless essence of classic fashion garments and the aesthetic splendor that characterizes ancient cultures throughout the world. We merge the most whimsical elements of style while infusing traditional fabrics and textiles into modern patterns and designs. We pay homage to rich cultural legacies and continue to revere their influence as dazzling pioneers in fashion.

Nuri Nahara is not simply about the clothing but a reflection of the unique stories of those who adorn themselves in our garments. It is a montage of collective experiences laced into the fabric of our pieces. Our brand embodies inclusivity and freedom while celebrating diversity and creativity.

Our Cairo Collection, which debuted in the Fall of 2019, was inspired by ancient legacies that embody royalty, power, intellect, and beauty. Our name reflects our mission to manifest the timeless splendor and dynamic contributions of these traditions. Nuri is located in modern Sudan on the west side of the Nile. Nearby stand the ancient pyramids of Kings and Queens, along with remains of the ancient city of Napata, the first capital of the Nubian Kingdom of Kush. Nahara represents the waters of the Nile River, which nurtured and sustained ancient civilizations that gave birth to science, mathematics, architecture, philosophy, and agriculture. ⁣⁣⁣Nuri Nahara is for the all-encompassing woman who fully stands in her power. Boldly embracing her individuality, aesthetic magnificence, and unique story. ⁣⁣⁣

In my legal work, I specialize in Intellectual Property matters facing the Film, Television, Music, Art, Tech, and Fashion industries. My knowledge in the field of IP Law is centered on navigating the complex convergence of the arts and law. With a strong focus on brand development and contract negotiation, I advise a diverse client base while working to protect the creative rights of musicians, actors, artists, authors, designers, models, start-ups, and creative individuals within a multifaceted talent pool. Collaborating with both corporate and independent brands, government entities, and nonprofit organizations, I develop projects and provide legal guidance that addresses the daily business challenges of the creative community.

Risk taking is a topic that people have widely differing views on – we’d love to hear your thoughts.
I believe in taking high risks to reap high rewards. In evaluating bold creative business decisions, being a calculated risk taker naturally comes with the territory. I believe that’s what will set you apart from others. Not taking the conventional route to accomplish a goal, tapping into unexplored territory, and finding beauty in your differences. In everything that I do, my goal is always to create spaces where people who have historically been excluded or ostracized can feel comfortable and welcomed. I love connecting and collaborating with creatives who have unique and unconventional ideas. New, bold, and risky endeavors are the ones I love exploring the most because they present challenges that make me better at what I do.

There’s still so much uncharted creative territory out there to explore and we’ve only just began to scratch the surface. Risk is implicit in exploring new career ventures, which is something I’m always willing to do. I’ve had many multi-hyphenated titles over the years, and my goal is to continue adding onto them. In the future, I hope to expand my titles to include actress, producer, and filmmaker and to work on impactful projects that examine unique and highly nuanced areas of Black history, culture, and creativity. I’ve always been passionate about film from a young age and it would be an honor to explore that avenue more.

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