15-year-old Dwight School Dubai student designs part of the uniform

Malak Bilbesi
Malak Bilbesi in the hoodie she designed Image Credit: Supplied

While school projects can be fun, they generally don’t turn into billable items. Unless you are 15-year-old Dwight School Dubai student Malak Bilbesi, who designed the hoodies that are now part of the school uniform.

Bilbesi told Gulf News in an interview that she’d been interested in design since she was 10. “I got interested in design at a relatively young age . I found my interest through watching YouTube videos and reading articles online. I was mainly intrigued by the idea that different things I created could be utilised by different people,” she explained.

However, it wasn’t until a trip abroad that the idea for a hoodie came into play. “I went to Dwight New York and Seoul, which are two different branches of our school. There we were able to see their merchandise shops and I was able to see high demand among their students and our students were really interested in it and were purchasing it, and when we came back the students who didn’t get to go on the trip were really jealous. So I decided that I should start something like that for our students. So I did it for my personal project,” she recalled.

Serious designs 

As part of the school’s Spark Tank programmer, “that basically gives any student the opportunity to do any initiative that they want”, Bilbesi found an avenue to explore her idea. She drew up a project agenda and spoke to the coordinator of the programme, who assigned her a mentor, Kim Ashlin who is also the Dwight School Dubai Communications Manager. “I prepared designs beforehand just to show them how much I wanted to do the project and that I was serious about it,” she said. “Miss Kim was able to support me the entire time, help me when I needed it.”

The school also helped her get in touch with Chad Henry, who manages the merchandise shop in New York. “I was able to get advice from him on sizing, materials, marketing- everything like that.” For the 15-year-old, getting her design approved was just the beginning. “I’m developing a line for swimwear with the head of PE, so I’m doing a swimsuit, cap and towel. And also we are thinking of designing different versions of the hoodie in different colours or more designs of it.

“But I do want to expand on student involvement, because it was such a good experience for me; I was able to explore so many different fields like the designing process, the entrepreneurial side, the marketing side – everything like that. It helped me to see where my interests were. So I want to make it similar to a club where students can be involved in the different fields so that would give them an idea of what it would be like to work in different fields in a workplace and see what they like,” she said.

After all, you never know what a school project could lead to.