Meet: Zahra Zamari

Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie
Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie at Rack & Brew, Gadong.
Faith-conscious, style-loving and unapologetically true-to-self, Zahra Zamari is your regular 21-year-old and more.

I arrive at Rack & Brew at 3:00 PM sharp and see Zahra seated at a corner table with a group of her friends; "Group mates," she had forewarned me earlier, "I have two assignments due next week."

Dressed in her signature style, with pastels and delicate color blocking (pastel pink and navy blue on this occasion), she stands up as I make my way towards her. After a few shuffles and fumbles, we seat ourselves on a table beside her friends'. She smiles as I whip out my phone, "Do you mind if I record?"

Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie at Rack & Brew, Gadong.
Zahra is a lot of things at the same time. Most prominently, she is the passionate style blogger behind The Rosie Grammar, but months before that, Zahra made a name for herself by making things.

"I like crafting," she tells me bluntly, "Because I buy a lot of things for crafting, I got broke," she says even more bluntly and then laughs, clear and bright. It was her boyfriend that incepted the idea of starting a business to pay for what she has lost. Today, Zahra runs Eve & Rosie, a hand-crafted jewelry line that began last July.

"Most of the hand-crafted jewelries here in Brunei are over-priced," she tells me -- to which I can attest -- and then adds in with a sheepish grin and hunched shoulders that, "Because I study business and I like marketing things, I thought it might be good to attract young girls to things that they can afford."

True to her word, Eve & Rosie boasts minimally designed rings and necklaces ("Sometimes, I tie things in a way that doesn't come out pretty -- but is unique," she chuckles) at student-friendly prices. "Eve & Rosie is -- I wouldn't say it's a knock-off of other brands," and here she laughs good-heartedly, "but it's just me trying to give students mostly a cheaper alternative to everything."

Intrigued by the tres chic moniker of her brand, I ask Zahra how the name came about and she laughingly recounts an anecdote of being in a name rut, having watched Love, Rosie days before the birth of her brand and a shower epiphany ("Eve & Rosie! Oh, it has a nice ring to it!"), the entirety of which is filled with incoherent babbles and the fumbling of her tongue when she recalls names that had been rejected for being "a mouthful" ("Avery Avenue," "Eve & Avery," and later on, "The Rosie Aesthetic").

Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie at Rack & Brew, Gadong.
Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie at Rack & Brew, Gadong.
Deciding to call herself Rosie after her jewelry line, Zahra started The Rosie Grammar. Her Instagram account and blog that began posting regular content late last September has accumulated nearly five thousand followers in less than a year and she has become one of Brunei's fastest growing influencers ("I just got goosebumps!") on the still-tender playing field of social media, working with both local and international brands. When asked how she feels about what she has achieved with The Rosie Grammar, Zahra has an interesting answer.

"I can't say that I'm proud of myself. I mean, I'm happy with what I have achieved, but I'm not proud," she says, "I don't think that you should be proud of getting attention -- I'm just glad that I manage to inspire people through blogging, because that's what I wanted to do when I started blogging."

What began as an effort to rekindle an old hobby -- "I started a blog in 2008, but it was really, really yucky," here is a subsequent squinch of the face -- quickly turned into an aim of inspiring Muslim girls in the country to "dress modestly in the right way."

She tells me that, while she was working on Eve & Rosie, myriads of girls who donned her jewelry tagged her in their photos. It was then that she discovered and realized that there exists on the local fashion platform many influencers who could, "inspire a lot of girls to do the wrong thing."

Today, she tells me, as one of the highlights of her blogging journey, that she receives messages from girls all over the country telling her that she has inspired them.

Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie at Rack & Brew, Gadong.
Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie at Rack & Brew, Gadong.
Zahra is opinionated, level-headed and steadfast, evident from her commanding tweets and stance on ideologies she is passionate about, but away from her well-articulated entries, well-crafted jewellery and well-assembled outfits, Zahra has a quirky air about her when present in the flesh. There is an almost whimsical shyness that rolls through her enunciated vowels, side way glances and hand gestures (palms almost always upturned, rigid wrist flicks).

When in her presence, one will be reminded that Zahra -- who apologizes with a meek smile throughout the entire interview session for her "sappy answers" and who excitedly chatters to me about that one time Dwi Handayani sent her a message in the form of a video -- is a 21-year-old student who juggles a business management course, a hand-crafted jewelry line and a thriving blog with both of her hands and is utterly, undisputedly and most definitely just a pastel-loving human girl wearing the hat of an organized entrepreneur.

"I mean -- I try my best to look like I'm organised by doing this," and here, she fumbles for a plastic folder on the other table and flips through pages of scribbled timetables of her "busy but unexciting life" and DIYed organizers, "But as you can see, I don't really keep up with my own schedule."

Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie at Rack & Brew, Gadong.
Brunei Blogger May Cho interviews Zahra Zamari of The Rosie Grammar and Eve & Rosie at Rack & Brew, Gadong.
Despite this, however, I harp her on what a day in the life of Zahra Zamari is like. She humours me and outlines a day not unfamiliar to style and fashion bloggers alike; "Whatever I do for my studies, it's between 8:30 and 3PM, and then I'm done. I don't want to touch my books, I don't want to do anything," she makes this clear by punctuating and gesticulating widely at every "don't" and continues as-a-matter-of-factly saying, "but now I have no choice because I have two assignments due." I laugh.

"At 4 to 5, I would actually just go around and find the perfect wall to take an OOTD," the laugh that ends the statement is a clear build-up from the very start, but she continues, aware of the outwardly silliness (to which she justifies, "It's what makes me happy. It keeps my head clear.") of what she is saying, "5 to 6 I would think about what to upload -- my life is that boring. And then at night, that's when I rest or that's when I finish up my orders."

"I like staying home, not engaging in any human interaction," she adds promptly when I ask her what she likes to do away from social media. On Sundays, however, she likes to spend time with her nieces and family. She fiercely defends her family time and proudly calls herself a family person.

And this is what makes Zahra Zamari the ultimate paragon of a 21-year-old doing what she loves; an infinitely grounded view on the world of social media, fashion and religion that crosses path with a crafty, home-loving and creative mind.

Find Zahra Zamari on Instagram and The Rosie Grammar.

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