Q&A: Christina Stahl and Annahita Esmailzadeh on the collaboration
Our limited-edition bag that we created together with tech leader, business influencer and bestselling author Annahita Esmailzadeh carries the slogan 'Break the Bias' to raise awareness about prejudices and support women in obtaining the same opportunities and chances as men. By addressing, challenging, and breaking through biases, we want to encourage women to pursue their dreams and goals without limitations. Both Annahita and AMELI share a mission to question existing structures and empower women, making this collaboration a perfect match to enhance an existing bag while drawing attention to an important message: 'BREAK THE BIAS.' Christina regards Annahita as an inspiring force for change, while Annahita appreciates AMELI's blend of timeless design and practicality—a match made in heaven. Read what they have to say about the collaboration in this interview.
"When women work together, incredible things happen."
Christina, what made you choose Annahita Esmailzadeh as your collaboration partner? Annahita, why did you say YES?
Christina: Annahita is a great inspiration for me. I am totally impressed by how she uses her voice and reach to point out grievances and actively initiate change. AMELI is for all striving women and Annahita is the epitome of that - I couldn't have imagined a better person for this joint project.
Annahita: When Christina asked me if I would like to collaborate, I was immediately on fire. I've loved AMELI's bags for years, as they are timeless, elegant and functional at the same time, making them perfect for my everyday work. I also loved the idea of being able to co-design and co-create a handbag that is perfect for the business context and beautiful at the same time. I am sure that we will make a lot of women very happy with this bag.
Why is the "Break the Bias" theme so important that it is even printed on the bags?
Christina: It is important to us to raise awareness of prejudice with the limited edition bag. We firmly believe that women deserve the same opportunities and possibilities as men. By drawing attention to and challenging prejudice, we want to encourage women to break through these stereotypes and pursue their dreams and goals without limitations. The message on the bag is meant to be both a reminder and an incentive.
Annahita: Ever since I can think, I've been pigeonholed. And ever since I've been able to think, I don't really seem to fit into any of them. A business magazine once wrote about me "Probably no one would be surprised if Esmailzadeh - long, full hair, fashionable outfits - introduced herself somewhere as a beauty blogger." People are regularly irritated by learning that I am a manager in the tech industry. To this day, people in the working world equate an interest in fashion and beautiful handbags with incompetence. Christina and I want that to finally change.
How did your collaboration work out?
Christina: I am now an even bigger Annahita fan after the collaboration. It was super pragmatic, fast and efficient and at the same time so warm, empowering and inspiring. We have very similar tastes and both had so much desire to collaborate, so developing the bag was just fun. I still have to smile at our Whatsapp conversations.
Annahita: I loved working with Christina from minute one. We were immediately on the same wavelength, as we both work very pragmatically and efficiently. Therefore, we enjoyed this joint project very much and are both very happy about the dreamlike result.
Why did you decide to improve the CENTRAL even further instead of a new model?
Christina: The CENTRAL is one of our bestselling bags, and yet over time, thanks to customer feedback, you get a lot of input on what would make the bag even better. Since our goal is to design bags that are compromise and timeless, and we are an advocate of slow fashion, we wanted to make the existing model even better, rather than launching another model. Annahita's experience and input on how to improve the bag was so incredibly valuable.
What features does the bag come with?
Christina: Hidden behind the extremely timeless design is that the bag can be attached to the suitcase and can also be worn cross-body with the additional straps. In addition, there is a padded laptop compartment inside for up to 14" laptops, a zippered compartment and four open pockets. To have all things safely stowed away, the bag can be closed with a zipper on both sides. The removable clutch is also perfect for a quick lunch or after-work drinks.
What would you like to see in the future in terms of stereotypes? What changes do you need from each individual?
Annahita: We live in a complex world these days that - fortunately - is not just black and white, but has many shades in between. So a fully tattooed, muscle-bound hunk with a full beard can do a great job as an educator, just as a woman who likes to wear high heels, bright red lipstick and pink can be a gifted manager. I find it significant that some career guides advise women to dress as discreetly as possible so as not to attract negative attention or provoke prejudice. The solution should never be for all of us to bend over backwards to avoid ending up in the "wrong" drawer. Rather, we must finally understand that a person's appearance does not allow a qualified conclusion to be drawn about their character or their professional competence. It doesn't matter how colorful or long our fingernails are, how fashionable our clothes are, or how high our tattoo density is.
Annahita is a tech leader, best-selling author, and speaker. She has led Customer Success Account Management at Microsoft since 2021. As one of the most influential opinion leaders in business, she uses her voice on social networks and in the media for more diversity and inclusion, as well as modern cultural and leadership approaches in the world of work. She is co-editor and author of the SPIEGEL bestseller "Gen Z für Entscheider:innen" and author of the book "Von Quotenfrauen und alten weißen Männern". She is also involved as a mentor for numerous initiatives. She was honored by FOCUS magazine as one of the 100 Women of the Year 2022. The business section of Business Insider magazine selected her as one of the top 25 women future leaders who are changing and shaping the German economy. She is a winner of the European Medal and received the German Diversity Award in 2022.