Nardos Imam
Image 6

While the first week of 2014 most people were resting from New Years Nardos Imam was quietly gearing up for the grand opening of her bridal salon in Dallas, Tx.  She was gracious enough to allow us a private tour and exclusive interview days before her opening.  

Background on Nardos

Back home when I was a kid, my mom was a tailor and made custom dresses for occasions such as church and holidays. She would make these dresses at home and wake me up in the middle of the night to show me her designs.  As I grew up, I became more and more interested in fashion. Back home it was hard to find fashion magazines so I had to sneak and take my mom’s Vogue and other magazines and cut out pictures. When my mom realized that I had a genuine interest in fashion, she encouraged me to take sewing classes. I refused since I was scared of falling into a (the category of) stereotypical woman’s role; so instead of taking the sewing classes, I had my mom teach me. I had wanted to become a nurse and wanted to follow that career path but by the time I went to college, I got past worrying about what others thought and focused on fashion. I believe that if you have passion and put your heart into it, you will accomplish it and it didn’t matter what everyone said.

Foot in the door

When I graduated from fashion school, I was on a mission to get a fashion job. I was married and had a supportive husband and could focus on following my passion. I tried to get a job at Stanley Corshack and was declined. I knew I had to start somewhere so I took a tailoring job – my thoughts were that even if I had to pick up the pins, it was an opportunity to get my foot in the door. For the first two years as a tailor, I focused on learning the ins and outs and even took time to learn the stitching of the Amsale dresses and other predecessors.

Getting started

As the two years passed and I felt more accomplished, I asked Stanley Corshack to hire me as in-house designer. When they said no, I started making cocktail dresses on the side. When Stanley Corshack realized I was making money on my designs, they then tried to hire me as a designer. I ended up working as an in-house designer at Corshack for seven years and used that time to build up my clientele and in the last four years during that time I started my own collection.


Once I started my collection, it was the start of an amazing time in my life. I met amazing people, had lots of support and was ready for my own business. My business partner til this day is a woman who started off as my client. We met when she had me design her dress and it was the most expensive gown I had ever made. Our relationship was built during this time and has allowed for an amazing partnership – with her finance background and my designing skills, we were ready to go. Our first course of action as business partners was that we needed to get a designer house and create our place of business. We styled it to make the women coming in feel like princesses  from the moment they walked in the door. Décor is key in a designer house.

Starting off the business and making the gowns had its challenges. I learned how to balance timelines of making the gowns. Every bride should have about 4 to 6 months to have their gown made but sometimes I had gowns that needed to be made in one week. Then the other role I had was to let brides know what will make their custom gown perfect for them and to make sure its not just a generic dress. My goal is to make sure the bride feels the most beautiful she ever felt, [understanding] it’s good to feel pretty.  In order to do this I learned that in order to make the bride feel pretty, I needed her to trust me so that I can make that perfect dress for her and unique just to her personality. The moment when the brides puts on the dress for the first time and I see the look on her face, is the moment that is my favorite. The brides expressions of joy is what keeps me working hard and excited to make gowns.

The Future of Nardos

I’ve been asked if I would ever consider doing a habesha/melse dress line and my thoughts are that I will never say no but I am not sure if I ever will. The price to produce these dresses in the US is costly and the market does not really demand it. Another question I have been asked is if I have ever considered a grooms line and as of right now, I don’t see myself doing this either. I would tell people that the best tux lines can be found at Ralph Lauren and Zenia. For now, I plan on keeping everything the way it is and will see what happens down the road.

Habesha Wedding Favorites

There are so many aspects of the habesha wedding that I love. My favorite aspect of habesha weddings is that the brides do not compete with their mothers but rather try to make our mothers happy and have her be the most beautiful lady at the wedding. In other traditions, the mother of the bride cannot wear white but in habesha weddings the mother can wear whatever and the bride is always trying to make her mother shine. Also, another aspect that I love is the way the family gets together and how hard they work to get the bride and groom through the wedding. I don’t see this type of hard work from family members in other traditions and I love how unique it is to habehsa weddings.

Advise for the Habesha Bride

The one thing I want to tell habesha brides is to make sure that the wedding is about the marriage and not about the wedding day. Sometimes since our budgets are lower and there is not as much money to spend on the wedding, the bride ends up working hard on the wedding and ends up stressed out, tired, and frustrated. Back home, this is not an issue because things are cheaper and the family has all the time to help the bride get ready and all she has to do is show up on the day of the wedding. So my key advice is to remember the wedding is about the marriage and that the bride should relax and enjoy it.

Also, I think there is one more piece of advice I would give the bride. The bride needs to make sure not to listen to too many opinions. Sometimes with the family as involved as they are the bride starts feeling pressure.  I see this most when the bride has to pick her dress. She feels the pressure of picking a dress that her husband will like vs one her mom will like vs. one her friends will like. The bride needs to pick the dress she feels the prettiest in and fits the best. It is very important that the bride picks the dress that’s best for her.

To learn more about Nardos and see her collection in person please visit


More Photos