MEET: Sarina Saddiq

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Smart Squid

Owner & Creative Director

Meet Sarina Saddiq. She’s an amazing woman, she’s driven, she’s friendly, and, of course, she’s incredibly talented. Using her love for biology and a passion for painting, she’s created the ecological clothing range, Smartsquid. Her mission is to mesh ecological awareness with sustainable fashion. She may just be the David Attenborough of the fashion world.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Sarina and I study Biology, that's what really shaped my interests. I just really like under appreciated bugs. I also really love painting as well. And...what else? I’m the oldest of five siblings so I have lots of people to keep me young. I watch the worst TV ever, I’m currently re-watching Gossip Girl. And, my music taste is very eclectic. I went to see Tom Misch, that was so good. I quite like Gabrielle Aplin, Birdy, mellow stuff, but I also love vintage Red Hot Chilli Pepper stuff, and all of Madonna. Every single song.

What is Smartsquid?

I started it when I was 16 when I had no money.  I decided to start upcycling clothes, tie-dying t-shirts, making notebooks, and then selling them at market stalls. But, then I had a bit of a meltdown because I thought ‘how can I do this and science?’. So that’s why I decided to start painting garments with animals that I thought were ecologically important. Now I’m painting for WeAreHairyPeople. For that, I’ve done more of a collection - it’s super colourful and bold. WeAreHairyPeople is amazing, it promotes positive mental health, so some of the money from the garments goes into wellbeing workshops and things like that. I also have my own new products coming out, jewellery with dung beetles on it for example.

Where do you take your Inspiration from?

Normally I’ll take something inspirational from a scientific report. So recently, I read this great things about Trinidadian Guppies. I can’t help but just think 'this is so cool and no one knows about it.' I think what these scientists are doing is so amazing, its so niche but they’re so passionate.

Does your work convey a specific message?

I really think that what people wear is such a personal choice so when somebody buys something of mine, I’m already super happy but, ultimately, I would only paint things onto clothes that are ecologically important. It’s just awareness. So with flies for examples, everybody hates them but they’re so important ecologically because they’re super good at degradation. If there were no flies in the world there would just be rubbish everywhere. I didn’t really think about things like that before studying my course so now I like giving airtime to creatures like that. Sometimes it’s also conservation based, so I’ve done some jeans and a matching jacket which have Yellow Fin Tuna on. 

What’s the best moment of your career?

When Sarah from WeAreHairyPeople approached me to be a painter, I just thought ‘this is the best day ever’. She’s so cool, she really is trying to help people’s mental health. Plus she paints and only uses organic clothes so its sustainable.

Who’s your biggest influence?

It’s going to sound really lame from a biology student but David Attenborough is pretty awesome. He portrays such complex natural world topics but in such an accessible way for the public. It’s so popular and effective, and it has an impact. Take for example the episode on plastic, after that we’re banning all plastic straws. I just hope, in some way, that I can convey science to people who wouldn't have thought about it before. It’s why I put a little note with everything. So with this jacket (Sarina is wearing one of her own creations with fly paintings on it - it’s fantastic) I do a postcard, draw a fly and then write on the back why they’re important. Then I also write another about sustainable fashion. If I didn’t I would just be selling clothes which is amazing in itself but I like this twist.

What does creativity mean to you?

I think everyone is creative. I really do. Even if your studying something that people wouldn't necessarily say is creative. I think creativity is how you perceive things and how you explain it and there are so many ways you can do that. It can be through equations, art or writing. I don’t think there’s a set thing. It’s all evolving all the time.

What do you do that helps you stay creative?

I try to draw or paint at least 4 times a week. So in the evenings, if I’m watching TV I’ll just paint or draw then. Also I think it’s really important to try and meet people who are open about talking about their creative ventures or else it can seem like quite an isolating thing.

What do you know you do differently to most people?

When it comes to organisation I think I’m super disorganised with most things, but then I’m super focused on one thing. Like with revision at the moment I’m like quite articulate with how I do it but then I also forget what day it is.

When you’re feeling down what’s your best way up?

Usually I go home and moan to my Mum. I also think being outside is really important.

Where is your happy place?

We’ve just moved home to Midford and there’s a workshop. Actually, when I say workshop there’s actually just an empty room above the garage which I’ve tried to make look like a workshop. That’s a cool place to go though. It’s got amazing views but the windows are quite small so you’ve got to stand on your toes to see. Or my Mum’s just got some ex-battery chickens and if you just sit with them, they’re hilarious.

As much as the interview goes to show how passionate Sarina is about Smartsquid, nothing quite matches up to checking out her designs. That's where the real magic is, so have a look at them (and maybe buy a few things) HERE.

Can you think of a beautiful way to collaborate? Let us know