Community From Egypt to Cronulla - The Journey of the Hidden Gem of The Shire

Aida was born in Alexandria in Egypt and moved to Melbourne when she was six years old. After settling in the Dandenong Ranges, she began to feel a deep connection with nature and the beauty of the natural world.

A simple bag changes Aida’s focus

After being gifted a beautiful handbag for her 9th birthday by a friend’s Mum as an apology for a joke gone wrong (if you want to know more – Aida tells this story best), Aida began to appreciate textiles and form. Something about this bag fascinated her and switched on her creative mind. She fell in love with the fact that practical things can be beautiful.

By the time Aida was about to start high school, her family moved once again to Sydney, and Aida learned to sew. Soon after, she began designing her own clothes and creating jewellery (mainly earrings) for her classmates. She loved art – particularly art that captured nature’s beauty, textiles that felt luxurious, and the whole creative process.

Focus on Science

As Aida neared the end of high-school, she longed to study art, design and colour at University, however her parents had other ideas. She was gifted in the sciences, and her parents encouraged her to study Science at Sydney University. Her parents, like many, longed for their daughter to have a steady and meaningful job which they believed art and design wouldn’t provide for her.

While at Sydney Uni, she was a high achieving student but the Dean of the Medical School noticed that Aida was gifted creatively. He commented that perhaps she’d be unhappy if she went down the path of becoming a Pathologist. None the less, Aida graduated with honours in Histology and went to work in a genetics lab.

While working in the lab, she developed her critical thinking skills and the scientific method became second nature. The scientific method follows the steps of:

  • Ask a question
  • Research
  • Construct a hypothesis
  • Experiment
  • Revise
  • Re-test
  • Analyse
  • Draw Conclusions
  • Create a new hypothesis from results to refine and perfect the end result

Why does the scientific method matter in Aida’s story? Well, it absolutely helps with following through on the creative process – more on that later.

Creativity appears in the lab

Interestingly, in her job in the lab, Aida’s initial role was to develop and print the scientific photos of the samples the lab was working on - her creative nature was being put to good use. She loved this aspect of her job, and found a real connection with photography, the genetic codes of the samples analysed, along with an appreciation of the scientific process, and the impact the results would have for the patient’s at the receiving end.

After a few years, Aida left the lab and began to work for Merck Darmstadt as a diagnostic rep. This is where Aida learned how distribution channels work, how important distribution channels are, and how the quality and processes in raw materials has an effect on achieving consistency and a great end result. She then became a BDM for Merck’s Industrial Division and learned about diverse manufacturing industries, and managed projects for Pearlescent pigments that are used in cosmetics and other applications such as car finishes and architectural surface coatings. This job took her to Paris, Germany, Italy and like many of us, Aida hit the glass ceiling.

A Crossroads – settle or follow the dream

At this point, Aida decided to study Applied Colour and Design at The International School of Colour and Design which at that point was at The Rocks campus. For a major design brief, she studied Ancient Egypt and found an interesting book on ancient jewellery. Responding to this brief sparked yet again her love of creating beauty, and she went on to create a contemporary piece of jewellery for which she received an Award of Excellence. This course not only connected her Egyptian heritage with her love of design, but also allowed Aida to connect her natural talent with the terminology she needed to create a career in this area.

Aida’s life then changed dramatically. She became a Mum and three years on her marriage broke down. At this crossroads that many of us face, Aida decided it was either now or never to launch into her passion for design and creating beauty or settle for the corporate world she knew so well.

Aida decided to go for her dream, and Scarab Rouge was born.

The Scarab Rouge Journey – Proud to be 100% Australian

Now that Aida had combined her natural talent with her scientific knowledge and experience, she launched into investigating the world of high end jewellery by applying her corporate skills. After lots of networking and introductions, she met an Australian master craftsman who had worked for a high-end jeweller in Hatton Garden in London. He became her first master craftsman. From there she hand-picked her team of experts and she began to create and make her designs. Aida’s scientific knowledge allowed her to easily understand the complex chemistry and physics of gemstones – particularly diamonds – as well as precious metals and the manufacturing processes which affect them. It is this knowledge and her ability to translate it into her bespoke designs, which allows Scarab Rouge to stand out from the rest.

In the right direction, but how to give something back?

With Scarab Rouge in full swing Aida decided that she wanted to create a way for Scarab Rouge to give back to the community. Because precious metals and gems are sourced from the earth, she always felt that part of Scarab’s philosophy should be giving something back. She met the founder of For A Cure Foundation who asked Aida if she would contribute to raising funds for Cancer Stem Cell Research. Aida then designed and created 8 to 10 rings for a gala event on May 9th 2009 to raise money for this cause. The pieces were created with the hostesses at the event in mind, and Aida’s bespoke pieces were showcased throughout the evening. Due to Aida’s background in scientific research it seemed like a good fit for her to support.

But something wasn’t quite right. The connection between cancer research and Aida was a personal one but didn’t quite fit with the Scarab Rouge brand. She asked herself – how does taking metal and gems from the earth connect with Cancer Research? The answer was that it doesn’t. It was time to re-evaluate…and find an alignment with the right fit.

A bag influences her again

It was coming up to Christmas 2016, and Aida couldn’t find the right gift for a group of friends in her life. She decided to design and create five large beach bags using jute sacks and Italian leather. Jute is a vegetable fibre used for making strong coffee sacks and is used predominately in Egypt for cotton storage and coffee producing countries like Columbia. Aida couldn’t get the fact that the sack was made of plants out of her head. The connection to the earth, the durability – it was speaking to her.

While busily creating and hand-making the bags, Aida made the connection - that’s how Scarab Rouge needed to give back to the earth – through plants! She did some research and connected with Greenfleet Australia, learned about their program of planting native trees as a carbon offset, and it all made sense. With Scarab Rouge taking metals and minerals out of the earth to make beautiful jewellery, Scarab Rouge could give the earth something back, by planting trees and so creating beauty and sustainability through an alliance with Greenfleet!

What a perfect fit.

Since this partnership started in 2017, Aida (along with other volunteers), Greenfleet and Sutherland Shire Council have planted over 1500 trees at Bonna Point, Kurnell in the first planting, and 650 trees in the second planting.

Recognition for hard work

Through a series of synchronicities, Aida was invited to become an industry partner of Raffles College of Design and Commerce, and as a result Scarab Rouge’s Jewellery has been featured twice at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Australia, in 2013 and 2014. The Scarab Rouge website features the lifestyle shots taken at Port Hacking, The Royal Motor Yacht Club and Oak Park, Cronulla.

As a direct result of the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week experience, Scarab Rouge has branched out into Luxury Leather Goods, which are veg-tanned, low environmental impact, providing customers with sustainable, ethical, beautiful wallets, bags and notebooks. All goods are available to purchase online, as well as the famous Eco Luxury Bags that started Aida on her Greenfleet journey. The Eco Luxury bag has now given rise to a stylish and practical Luxury Neoprene Day Bag – one of Scarab Rouge’s most popular items.

Towards the end of 2016, she received a phone call from Vogue and GQ Australia, saying they had found Scarab Rouge - the brand was a perfect for their magazine, and would she like Scarab Rouge to be included? Yes please! From this, some other amazing connections formed and Scarab Rouge has since been featured in QantasLink and in Virgin Voyeur magazines. This recognition is testament to Aida’s tireless drive for quality and beauty in her brand.

Fast forward to now

Aida not only designs new bespoke jewellery for her clients, but she also re-interprets heirloom pieces so that jewels that would normally be sitting in a drawer can be worn and celebrated, keeping alive the memory of loved-ones passed.

Scarab Rouge is more than a bespoke Jewellery and Luxury Leather Goods brand – it’s about Aida’s journey and her passion and connection with all things nature. It’s about beauty, form, sustainability, integrity and the connection with her clients. It’s about attention to detail, underscored by technical know-how. It’s about the journey from the design concept to the finished piece.

And most of all it’s about Aida’s wonderful story and ability to bring her passion and care for her clients into every piece she makes.

We’re proud to have Aida as a ShireWomen business member. Learn more about Scarab Rouge by clicking here, or connect with Aida by sending her an email to aida@scarbrouge.com – she’d love to hear from you.

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