Meet Zainab Khan, a badass woman based in London, UK, founder and creative director of the #TrailblazingMuslimWomen campaign, a project part of a visual series called Third Culture.
Can you tell our readers a bit about yourself and your project?
I guess you can call me a creative, I work in digital/social for my day job and #TrailblazingMuslimWomen is a part of my larger cultural project Third Culture. It’s an initiative I’ve started to curate conversation around cultural identities and experiences – firstly through visual series and then also somehow offline.
#TrailblazingMuslimWomen is a visual series I curated with photographer Maaria Lohiya for International Women’s Day. We were inspired by the many industry lists (30 Under 30, Women to Watch etc) and squad shoots from high profile award seasons.
We wanted to create something to celebrate the amazing Muslim women in London, and create something visually powerful to inspire the young and to show the diversity of Muslim women both in industry and background. The series features 21 women.
What inspired you to start the #TrailblazingMuslimWomen campaign?
It was a need to create something that I could have used when I was growing up. Though inspired by the things I mentioned above, the ultimate inspiration was the need to create something for the younger generation to inspire them.
What has been the most challenging moment in your journey so far?
For years, I’ve wanted to create something meaningful and I’ve had ideas. The two things that stopped me from creating was a lack of confidence and community. You end up comparing yourself to other creators, you wonder if someone will like your idea, you wonder if the women will even say yes or whether the idea will come to existence as you imagined. You can’t do anything on your own either. There’s so many people that were involved in this, of course Maaria from the creative and photography side, and many others in terms of advice. You need a community behind you, this in turn gave me the confidence to take on all these challenges.
What is next for #TrailblazingMuslimWomen?
We want to make it an annual series for sure, so we can highlight the Muslim Women across the country and hopefully globally one day. I’m also working on a few other visual series for Third Culture.
What would you like to say to other women who want to create more representative contents like yours?
Firstly do it. We need more representative content, and we need more content that’s telling stories of others, not just one-sided and ourselves.
I don’t know if this is right but one thing I would say is strike a balance in the way you do things. A balance in believing in yourself but also questioning yourself: who are you creating this for? What is the story for? What really matters? What’s different? A balance between planning and coming up with a strategy but then actually doing something.
We wouldn’t have been able to take #trailblazingMuslimWomen so far just by waiting for others to recognize the work, our community is so amazingly supportive of course but how do you go beyond that? A balance may never be perfect, as each point in time may call for you to steer to one end of the spectrum over the other, but be able to shift the balances when necessary.
And finally, what’s your motto? 🙂
Oh gosh, not sure I’ve had one. I guess one thing I’ll always say to others is « You do you ». Focus on your thing, don’t let others hold you back and of course, then go do something.