Meet Alaa Balkhy

Alaa Balkhy for Passerbuys68.jpg
Alaa is a New York-based designer whose passion for art developed with her changing surroundings. After earning her Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design at Dar Al-Hekma University, her designs and illustrations evolved tremendously over the next few years. Upon graduation, she launched her first full collection for Fyunka. After moving to New York to attend Pratt Institute, she is now working on Minaa Zine, a cultural publication she co-founded with Nadia Azmy.

on her morning routine

I usually wake up whenever I wake up which is one of the perks of being your own boss. I have this bad habit of checking emails and social media from bed which usually lasts for about an hour.

on her interest in graphic design

I grew up in Montreal until I was about nine years old, then went back to Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where I’m originally from. I finished school there and got a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Design. Getting into design was a happy mistake. The program was relatively new within the country so I thought, "Why not be one of the first Saudi graphic designers?"

on starting her business

Fyunka was born because I couldn’t find a job straight of out college. I started making illustrations and posting them on my blog. They were about culture, fashion, and humor. One of the illustrations received a lot of feedback, both positive and negative. The brand started as a project when I decided that I wanted to have my illustrations on products. Fyunka is still a learning process. After my time as an undergraduate, I realized I needed to learn how to run this business and evolve, so I went to Pratt for an M.P.S in Design Management, the business side of design.


Alaa's favorite books
I love this cookbook called New Feast. Living in New York, I tend to miss home-cooked food. I’ve been getting into the approach of only eating out on weekends. The book is great for Middle Eastern recipes that are simple and doable.
— on her favorite book

on starting her zine

Growing up in Montreal, I always noticed culture and cherished it, especially being from another country where things were very different and there was limited access to culture. My new project, MinaaZine, is a quarterly publication that explores the cultural aesthetic and lifestyles of Middle Eastern and North African cultures, as well as those in the diaspora.

on her style and shopping habits

I shop at Zara and COS for basics, but I love buying items from local designers whenever I go home to Jeddah. I usually go for neutral colors in basic shapes.

on her beauty routine and recommendations

I love Neutrogena liquid soap and Neutrogena Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover. After that, I use the Glossier moisturizer, which is also fragrance free. I also started using Glossier serums which are great. 

I recommend NARS Women's Radiant Creamy ConcealerGlossier HaloscopeMAC False Lashes Waterproof MascaraGlossier Boy BrowUrban Decay Naked Palette, Prestige Liquid Eye LinerAesop Women's Purifying Facial Cream Cleanser, and Green Bar Milky Moon Tonic

Robe, Mojamajka  ; Jeans, Levis

Robe, Mojamajka ; Jeans, Levis

More of Alaa's favorite beauty products
I found out that I’m allergic to fragrance three years ago, so now it all comes down to fragrance-free products. The gentler the product, the better.
— on finding her beauty products

alaa's favorite books

The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr., E.B. White, Maira Kalman, Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All by Tom Kelley and David Kelley, New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian by Greg Malouf, Girls of Riyadh by Rajaa Alsanea, and Girlboss by Sophia Amoruso

alaa's favorite movies

Brooklyn, West Beirut, Caramel, Persepolis

alaa's favorite places in nyc

Mile End Deli is my favorite dinner spot in the area

Yemen Cafe on Atlantic has the BEST Yemeni food

Sahadi's is great for Middle Eastern groceries

Bedouin Tent is good for small sandwiches