Designing social change
For those who don’t know me, I’m Lebanese (both my parents are Lebanese) and I grew up in Montreal, Canada. My parents raised me to be very close to my roots, especially in terms of values and lifestyle, yet our Canadian surroundings nevertheless clearly shaped my free spirited character.
I travel often to Beirut, even more so than my own parents who grew up in this wonderful country. It’s been plagued and continues to be plagued by its fair share of difficulties and political chaos, yet I can’t help but feel at home when I land in Lebanon.
Throughout the years, I’ve come to realize just how many talented Lebanese individuals live all around the world. You can’t help but be anywhere, in any country, and meet a number of successful Lebanese entrepreneurs or professionals. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t anybody left in Lebanon. Actually, there are talented young Lebanese aspiring to make a footprint in their economy right at home.
Take the wonderful example of Vanina. Vanina is a brand that combines fashion and sustainability. The line ranges from clothing, to accessories, jewelry, and handbags, all in original and glamorous designs. More importantly, everything is crafted in Beirut.
I had the pleasure of visiting the boutique a few weeks ago, and sitting down with Sarah who was manning the store at the time. She explained that the designers, Joanne Hayek and Tatiana Fayad, who were university students at the time, started making jewelry from depreciated coins in 2007. Over the years, their concept of up-cycling (reusing discarded material to create a higher quality product) contributed to the success of their business that grew into an international brand with a social message.
One of their latest projects consists in an up-cycling of tin-cans. “arcenciel”, a local Lebanese NGO, collects the cans, and these are then transformed into jewelry with the help of “Sawa for development and aid”, an organization that aims to provide humanitarian relief and development, whereby work is provided to Syrian refugees in Lebanon.
I was truly amazed by the sheer exquisiteness of the handcrafted jewerly, the originality of the designs, and mainly the socially responsible objectives of this brand that has now reached global popularity.
If you happen to be in Beirut (or Japan or France or…), make sure to stop by Vanina and relish at the talent of these Lebanese designers.
Mar Mikhael, Beirut
+961 1 448173