Own Your (Refugee Led) Business Story: Nominal

 Our “Own Your Story” series continues! 

Our “Own Your Story” series continues! Beginning September 1st, Sitti is featuring nine incredible refugee-focused brands through our on-going blog series. (You can find previous articles in this series, including nine amazing Women-Owned Business stories, here!The “Own Your Story” series elevates the stories of partner brands featured in the Sitti Subscription Box

Each quarter, we get to know the brands in our box, while gleaning priceless lessons and advice from their shared experiences. We talk about where the idea for their brand came from, and what’s made their journey unique. Our second box is all about refugee-led brands, as well as those making a direct impact within the refugee community. To learn more about our Surprise Subscription Box, click here.

Blending culture, language and art, Nominal is a unique jewellery designing brand that promotes inclusivity and meaning. Established in 2018 in sunny Arizona, USA, the business was founded by a newly-wedded couple, Lena and Akram, who decided to embark on a new artistic business venture together. In just a few years, Nominal has expanded rapidly offering an online assortment of beautifully crafted jewellery and accessories using the aesthetic of Arabic typography. They offer a wide selection of Arabic names and Islamic verses, as well as customized phrases and names in over ten different languages! Nominal allows you to express yourself creatively, passionately and authentically. 

Nominal has been gaining traction after being featured in Allure magazine, Yahoo and VICE, just to name a few. What’s more, they understand the importance of paying it forward. They regularly hold their “Deed of the Month” campaigns with proceeds of every single order being donated to a charity or an important cause. Whether it’s supporting humanitarian relief in Syria, building a fresh water well in Mali or raising funds for young girls in Africa to buy uniforms and school supplies, know that your purchase will make a positive long-term impact. Now that’s being fashion-forward!

We spoke to the team at Nominal to learn more about this exciting brand, and how their artistic vision, values and passion have been the driving forces behind their successful brand. 


Where are you based and what do you sell?  

Phoenix, Arizona - we sell meaningful jewelry and accessories that tell a story about who you are.

What is your brand's purpose/mission?  

Our brand purpose is to deliver jewelry to people who want to express their identity, and we have a mission to serve underprivileged communities where we can elevate their voices and raise funds and awareness for them.

What makes your brand unique? 

Nominal combines a lot of different aspects that people typically have to pick and choose between. We deliver jewelry that actually tells a story about you, whether it's your favorite flower or your favorite Qur'an verse, while also delivering a quality that we're confident enough in to provide a Lifetime Warranty. We also donate proceeds of every single order to a different charity every month, so this combination of meaning and beauty and charity is something that keeps our customers loyal to the brand and loves the new deliveries we have every month.

When did this organization start? How was this organization started?

Lena and Akram began Nominal a few months into their marriage. While Akram worked on Kufiartist, an Arabic-inspired wall art brand of his own, Lena and he both realized that wall art was difficult to scale; the pieces are heavy, expensive, time-consuming, and not everyone has a home to hang art up in. The idea of Nominal was born when they both caught themselves wondering how they can take that art and culture and language with them anywhere, not just in their homes or on their walls. In the spare bedroom of their townhouse in January of 2018, Nominal was born with some small items and big dreams. 

Tell us a story in your own words that epitomizes the experience of being a women-owned business/woman-identifying business owner. 

As a Palestinian Muslim woman, I felt like I always had to explain myself. I was always "different" from my classmates, in both undergrad and grad school. I always received questions like, "What does your name mean? Where are you from? Palestine, what and where is that? How long have you lived here? Does your family also live here? What language do you speak? What religion do you practice?" Some are genuinely curious and want to know more, and some are condescending and come from a place of entitlement. I'm so proud of who I am and love to speak and educate others about my identity, but it can get exhausting. I wanted to create a brand with accessories that allow for my identity, and the identity of others that have the same story, to speak for themselves. A brand that helps build a bridge and normalizes what will hopefully one day not be considered "differences". 

As Muslim living in America, we of course have to adapt in every sense. For example, when shopping for clothing, we have to go the extra mile to find something modest. We learn tips and tricks on how to 'halalify' outfits. There is always a subconscious effort to find pieces that align with us and our values. When it comes to the jewelry industry, I never really found Islamic jewelry that stood out to me until I went home to Palestine. There are many gaps in the jewelry industry that I sought to fill. I strived to make and design modern simple jewelry that also held meaning and represented my values as a Palestinian as well as a Muslim. I wanted to also strive to create pieces that catered to people from all different ethnicities as well. I truly believe our business is different from other businesses because it is inclusive and connects people from all around the world. The pieces we carry all hold their own meaning and are always conversation starters. I have had countless encounters where a person would compliment my necklace and ask what it meant, from there I had the opportunity to explain the meaning and we would have a meaningful and profound conversation about religion, background, and culture all at once. And as a woman, it means the world to me to be able to do that for other women around the world and for myself. When we say we create meaningful accessories that strike a conversation, we mean it.

How is your company celebrating International Women's Day?

This past International Women's Day, we celebrated all of March by choosing CAMFED as our Deed of the Month Campaign. CAMFED is a Campaign for Female Education where we raised over $6,000 to support African females searching for education. The money was used to provide girls with uniforms, school supplies, and other educational resources to permanently revolutionize the way they are educated.

What is a recent exciting success? 

Our most recent exciting success comes from our Nominal Facility expansion. We have just expanded our 9200sqft facility into an additional 7000sqft to continue growing our team and continue giving creative space and freedom to our amazing nearly-30 person team. Our Nominal Family is to thank, and they deserve the greatest customer experience. This new expansion allows us to focus more on what they see the brand as and how their order arrives, and their satisfaction means the world to us. To us, this was more than just a physical expansion, but a testament to how supportive they and our team have been to growing this into a global brand. 

What is the best advice you have for women-led small businesses/business owners? 

Being a woman is a strength, not an obstacle - it empowers us to see the world from a beautiful and unique perspective, and when people look up to women-owned businesses, it's just another avenue of inspiration for us. There's something special about inspiring a women-led team, a women-led society, and other women who want to open their own businesses. So I advise all women to do the same: remember and recognize that being a woman in a small business is a strength and a blessing!

Write down anything else you would like us to mention about your company 

We want customers to know that when they shop with us, it's not meant to be transactional. We guarantee that you will be treated like family and receive not just top-notch accessories, but top-notch service. We are so confident in our mission and items that we offer a Lifetime Warranty, we're always transparent about where your donation is going, and we always want to deliver a 5-star experience, starting with the website all the way up until your order is at your door, and even thereafter.



Check out Nominalx.com and make a purchase with discount code “sitti10” at checkout for 10% off! 

Thank you Nominal, for sharing your story!  



To show your support for Nominal, follow them on Instagram or Nominalx.com 

The Sitti Box is a quarterly box packed with value and impact, delivered directly to your door. Each quarterly box highlights the stories and impact of the products inside.



The Refugee-Led Box

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