Tasnim Ahmed // Her Picks
Tasnim Ahmed of Journal
Tell us about yourself.
I am a writer living and working in New York City. I was born in London, raised in Dhaka. The first publication I wrote for was my own; I was nine years old and printed my own “newspaper” which ran for four issues. I’m left-handed and am unreasonably proud of this. I don’t know much about birth signs, but I do know that in true Aries fashion, I am deeply stubborn.
What does a day in the life look like for you Tasnim?
I wake up quite early in the morning because I am completely non-functioning by late-afternoon. I’m not fully human till I’ve showered and had my coffee in silence. It gives me a moment to make mental notes of things I need to do for the day, and is usually when my ideas strike. I need to do at least one physically-mundane household task, whether it’s putting away dishes or cleaning a counter. I have no idea why, but it just sets the ball in motion. I try to avoid social media as much as possible in the morning; it’s crazy how much it’s become a part of daily life. I catch up on e-mails and may have work/meetings/shoots throughout the day. Usually I write in the morning, and can only work on a piece from start to finish in one sitting. In the evenings, I like to take a walk in places both familiar or new. I’m slowly learning to nourish myself, even if only in small ways like making a home-cooked meal or immersing myself in reading. How you care for yourself has an immense effect on how you conduct yourself with others and with your environment.
You are the founder of ‘Journal’. Can you tell us how you got your start and the inspiration behind it?
Being an immigrant in America was such a disillusioning experience for me right from the start, and be it in my own work , the brands I bought clothing from or publications I was reading, I saw a lacking in representation and inclusivity. It was always a dream of mine to start my own publication – I bought the domain name three years ago, unsure of how it was manifest but knowing that I wanted to create something. I was meeting amazing people, largely women and women of color both online and offline, and wanted to learn about them and the incredible work they were doing. Then the election happened, compounding and further enabling the existing social issues, and I was being asked by friends and allies what could be done in the aftermath. It inspired me to start a newsletter called “What Can We Do”, which eventually evolved into Journal’s Read/See/Do section. I realized that I wanted Journal to simply be a space of wonderful people defining their own success, sharing the challenges they’ve faced (which is something we don’t talk about often), discussing their work and their journeys.
What do you see the future of 'Journal' being?
The future of Journal is big. I’m in the process of making some changes, and am very excited for things to come.
Who does all your creative direction and photography? You, we assume? What is the inspiration?
I do all the creative direction and photography for Journal. I had no previous experience, and it was something I had to do to make Journal a reality. It’s a bit nerve-wrecking at times, hoping that I’m doing interviewees justice, but I’m constantly learning, changing and adapting. The inspiration is always the individuals I’m photographing. They are all incredible people, and it’s their energy that inspires me most.
How important do you feel it is to have a visually cohesive brand?
We live in a very visually-directed age, where visuals have the capacity to contain entire narratives. But as multi-faceted people, we shouldn’t constrict ourselves to absolute cohesiveness. There needs to be room for flow, more of reality, less of perceived reality.
What are your favorite wardrobe pieces, currently or from all time?
A poofy white dress that makes me feel equal parts child and adult; a pendant from my mother that says “Allahu” in Arabic; a clever t-shirt I wear almost every other day by artist Taravat Talepasand; my first sari, baby blue in color and bought when I was sixteen.
What are your favorite pieces in our latest collection for Amarilo?
My favorite pieces from Amarilo are the Winslet earrings and anklet, and the Custom Initial Nameplate necklace. I always wanted a necklace with my name on it, and now I do!
Any advice for women who are starting their own business?
It will be hard work. There will be constant moments of self-doubt, extreme highs and terrible lows. Do it only if it’s something that you love and are passionate about, and you will find the strength from the very depths of you to persevere.
Is there something you would like to share about yourself or your brand that we did not ask?
Most of the jobs I’ve had that pay the bills have been completely unrelated to writing. I’ve worked in government contracting firms and in immigration, and know all sorts of random facts about biometrics, and visa and travel requirements. Whenever I reveal this to people, they’re usually taken by surprise!
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