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t’s hard to believe that DC-based fashion and accessories designer Mehreen Mansur (“Menx”) was forbidden from owning scissors growing up.

“It was literally the ground rule at home,” she says with a laugh. “Since I was five years old, I always had this need to cut and change my clothes and my hair. I didn’t even own a pair till I moved to college.”

But from the looks of the young designer’s fashion and (soon-to-be only) accessories line, Reen Runway, you’d never guess it. At the tender age of 21, Mansur is the CEO/founder of her own line while also finishing up her senior year at the University of Maryland as a double major in English and Art. And all that’s on top of traveling frequently and even living abroad.

So how does an artsy globetrotting college junior decide to just start her own collection without so much as a design apprenticeship? Mansur’s story is tailor-made for the new millennium: her idea started from—what else?—her blog.

With three fashion shows already under her belt, Mansur has proven to be an unusually perceptive trendsetter.

“I had a blog I put up just for myself and decided to put a counter on it one day,” she says. “The number of clicks were insane.”

More than 1,500 views a day (and sometimes as many as 500 unique visitors daily) is almost unheard of for a then 17-year-old’s blog that displayed her artwork, writing and personal pictures. Before shutting the blog down, Mansur had received more than 250,000 hits—and a realization that she “maybe just arouses curiosity”—curiosity that could turn into cash.

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Reen Runway’s own Menx.

“People would always email me and ask where I got what I was wearing, and it was always something I designed or edited,” she explains. “I got so many questions, so I thought, why don’t I just start something?”

With three fashion shows already under her belt, Mansur has proven to be an unusually perceptive trendsetter. “Menx is just very innovative and makes her unique pieces,” says Glenda Fu, Mansur’s public relations manager. “She started the one-piece earring you won’t find anywhere else. Same with her horn collection. It came out last May, but I just recently saw Nicole Richie now wearing something similar. [Mansur] just knows when a trend is coming in.”

“She’s very up-to-date, but has her own twist to her designs,” adds Sumanah Khan, an event coordinator who has also modeled Mansur’s jewelry. “Even though it appeals to a mass market, it’s still very much her style.”

So what is the Menx style? Mansur describes her accessories line, Reen Bijoux, as classic but bold. “I don’t like passing fads. I like things that will be stylish forever, but those things tend to be too simple so I put my own personal touch to it,” she says.

Those enduring pieces include her signature charm bracelets (“they’re like little treasures”), and classy fruit-inspired pieces.

“Everything in my line are things I would wear, and being of South Asian heritage, I have a taste for slightly bolder things,” she says. “Understatement isn’t my style.” Mansur likes to bling it up with turquoise stones, jades, jaspers, crystal accents and gold-colored pieces.

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But it’s not all about the glitter. As a constant traveler, Menx pays attention to charms and trinkets that carry meaning, and she’s used to picking up symbols and trends from her travels. One example: Her Italian “horn of plenty” is said to bring good luck. It’s a recurring element in her line. Or take the Middle Eastern chili pepper charm, which will clear away bad spirits. And don’t forget the feng shui crystals, which clean the spirit when the light shines through them. Another unlikely inspiration is animal teeth, while her fleur-de-lis (“boldness and courage”) collection is inspired by French use of the symbol.

More From Menx

Want more Menx jewelry? Fret not, Menx is already hard at work on her spring line. Look out for it on her Web site, reenrunway.com

“I think the fleur-de-lis is a very perfected emblem—an authoritative and powerful symbol and stands for loyalty and courage,” she says. And finally, where else to get inspiration but from food? Bijoux Fruit is her take on the ’50s fad of wearing fruit jewelry: Turkish delight trinkets and wild strawberry bracelets.

Her obsession with food doesn’t just stop with her accessories: Mansur is also working toward a food fund she is building from a portion of her profits.

“I was always aware from a young age that poverty exists,” Mansur explains, describing how she saw the poor daily when she was living in Bangladesh as a child.

“When I was only five years old, there was a woman wearing a dirty sari with no blouse, and had a crying baby in one hand, and holding the hand of another girl my age with the other,” she remembers. “She came to me—a child—begging for a piece of bread. I didn’t understand why she would ask for bread, something I took for granted. But when it hit me, it was definitely a life-altering experience.”

“There’s no reason for food to be an issue in the 21st century,” Mansur goes on. “We’re food-sufficient.”

Now that Menx has set about assuaging hunger, both physical and aesthetic, what’s next? Full-time designing is on the horizon after graduation, with a few more collections and projects still in the pipeline. How does she manage?

“Maybe I don’t give myself enough credit, but I would blame it on luck,” she says, “I’m placed in such a weird position that things come to me by fate.”n

Shyema Azam loves jewelry and has her eye on Menx’s one-earring pieces.
Published on December 20, 2006.
Photography: Courtesy of Reen Runway.
Comments are closed.
  1. January 10, 2007, 12:33 pm Jeet

    her blog was on Xanga. Its not surprising seeing her finally do something with all the work she put into that blog. Good luck to her

  2. December 28, 2007, 10:57 am rob chowdhury

    I looked at her blog back in the days once thru reference. seemed really popular at the time among the deshi community. next time i tried to visit it was gone!

    loved those sketches of hers. great to see she’s taken em to a next level. keep it up sweety! make us bengs proud.

    cheers
    robin

  3. April 8, 2008, 1:32 am Kuku

    Miss readin her blog!! menx come bak!

  4. April 18, 2008, 12:19 am Asiana

    rare talent and a genius. i’d like to see how far she goes.

  5. July 22, 2008, 8:53 pm lisa

    She’s a beautiful woman, but her pieces are not unique in any sense or form. She stole the horn/tusk design from Kenneth Lane among many others. Sorry to say but its true

  6. August 10, 2008, 5:26 pm menx

    Hey all,

    Thanks for the comments — really too sweet.

    Sorry to upset anyone, but I never claimed to be unique. Classic, tried, and true with a bolder kick is my formula.

    And my horn piece inspiration came from old, ancient jewelry — prehistoric — in addittion to the ages old Roman empire styles. The horn/tooth pendant has been around for thousands of years and so have animal motifs for decoration, on which i focus. In Italy today, it is everywhere and has always been there as a timeless good luck symbol — I like that it is timeless, annd I like that it’s a good luck charm. Simple.

    Thanks all, again!

    xox

  7. December 30, 2008, 12:56 am saba

    Yeah, I loved looking at her blog on xanga, mostly because she was so amazingly pretty. Had a few weight issues back then, but looks pretty thin now.

    Anyway, love the prompt defensive reply, ha-ha.