Nawal el Masri Exhale

In 2017, Nawal El Masri, a graduate of the American University of Sharjah, had been experiencing severe anxiety all throughout her adolescence – suffering alone – due to the severity of the stigma around “the whole idea of mental health”. Once Nawal realized that minimal help was going to be available at the time, her only refuge was taking the matter into her own hands and doing something about it.

About “Exhale”

Nawal El Masri’s clothing brand, Exhale, is a conceptual fashion brand that integrates art, storytelling and mindfulness with comfort clothing.

“The reason I started [Ex-hale] was for raising awareness around mindfulness, to remind people to self reflect and increase people’s self-awareness. Exhale is a clothing brand that offers comfort clothing, quality art and freedom of expression. It’s very rare to find purposeful clothing that’s sustainable and shows a real image of your self-reflection. I believe that we find ourselves once we exhale and take a look within; only then can we really understand who we truly are beneath the surface,” Nawal tells Empower Mag.

“We create our clothes to feel like second skin – so you can exist and rise just as you are. No pretense, no apologies, and no compromise. exhale is for the rebellious dreamers, creators, doers, believers.”

“Loss has inspired me to create something to live for.” –NAWAL EL MASRI

But Nawal, Why a Clothing Line?

As we met Nawal at a Starbucks in downtown Toronto, Nawal opened up about her journey with loss and grief. She uses her grandfather’s death as a memorandum that one can never fully control circumstances of life. “Maybe if there was anything else, it would be candles,” says the 28-year-old Lebanese-Palestinian. “It’s an aroma, it’s a mood.. But seriously.. [You ask] why clothes? It’s because when you first meet someone, by default it’s your eyes… they judge and read someone via their appearance and clothing. Having people wear a garment that means something to their inner being; that’s Exhale.”

Nawal El Masri Exhale
via (www.exhale.ae)


A Turning Point in Exhale’s Journey

As we come to understand the journey of Exhale, we ask Nawal about the key milestones that she’s experienced up until today. “At the beginning, I had a booth at Lee Burridge’s “All Day I Dream” event in Dubai. I went in thinking ‘this is just marketing’. I had inventory and everything. The turning point was when I got my first customer. The reactions and their stories, the products – the brand – they resonated with and related to the message.” “To realise that there’s something bigger than me out there reminded me that our problems are often not as big as we make them out to be.

The word ‘exhale’ – to breathe out all the negativity – changed my perception of the world. It changed my life.” -NAWAL EL MASRI

“I was surprised that people resonated with my brand. It was a pop-up, and I wasn’t selling for cheap at all. It all hit me when I felt the message was resonating with their heart,” Nawal passionately tells us. “When I got approached by the Arab Harvard Conference telling me that my brand can reshape the mentality of the Arab youth in the West, that was another milestone for me.”


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Ending Our Conversation with Nawal

As we end our discussion, which first started out as a personal get-together before it quickly escalated towards Exhale, Nawal asked us to send our readers a brief message:

Exhale uses the mirror as a tool to self reflect,

I urge you to bring down all the labels placed onto you,

And whether you are the one labeling someone,

Notice that label and demolish it.

Exhale the sh*t out of it.”


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