Founder of bag brand Sarah’s Bag, 45, Lebanese
"Starting Sarah’s Bag was one of those journeys where you think you know the outcome and you end up somewhere completely unexpected. I was studying for a master’s degree in sociology and spent six months working in a local NGO called Dar Al Amal, which rehabilitates underprivileged women in Lebanon. I was deeply affected by my time there: I met women who told me heartbreaking stories about abuse, broken families, poverty and violence. I couldn’t ignore what I’d seen and go back to living in my bubble, so I decided to create a rehabilitation project that would combine my love of fashion and creativity with giving these women a way to create new lives for themselves, become financially independent and support their families. So I launched Sarah’s Bag in May 2000, working with female prisoners who were trained in stitching, embroidery, crocheting and beading. There is always something of me in my designs, an element of whimsy and quirkiness."
"I’m not afraid to have fun with fashion; I don’t take it too seriously. Winning the Business for Peace Award [in 2016] has to rank among my proudest moments; it felt like we were being recognised for the very essence of what Sarah’s Bag is all about. Another memorable moment was when one of our artisans, Randa, saved enough money from her work with us while she was still in prison to hire a lawyer. The justice system in Lebanon is notorious and there are a lot of innocent people that fall through the cracks. Randa successfully appealed her case and was released. That’s what makes everything I do, all the hard work we put in, worth it. I really believe that people, profit and planet all matter equally and when a business is about more than just the bottom line, it gives the company purpose and meaning.”
Via Harper's Bazaar Arabia June 2018 Issue