Tuesday, October 17, 2017

The art of Palestinian embroidery, from tradition to social business


By The Palestine Monitor - December 17, 2016
TAGS:
Section: [Main News] [Features]
Tags: [economy]

Taita Leila, a company that creates hand-embroidered clothing in Palestine while aiming to preserve Palestinian arts and crafts heritage, has launched its second collection with new ideas for social business in Palestine.
 
The name is a reference to the founder’s grandmother, Leila el Khalidi, renowned author of the landmark book “The Art of Palestinian Embroidery,” known for her research on Palestinian textile.
 
Noora Husseini, Leila’s granddaughter, started Taita Leila in 2015. She launched a crowdfunding campaign in June, so that she could start her business, get people to know about it, and launch the first collection. She raised more than $36,000 –exceeding her expectations. “The funds collected were used to register the business, fix up our website for e-commerce, stock up our inventory, and market our collection to the world,” she explains.
 
But for the second collection, The Benayiq, they had to think about what would be better for the company. After some brainstorming, they decided that another crowdfunding campaign would be the best option, and the most sustainable for their business and the 30 women it employs.
 
The idea is for customers to place an order by donating the amount of money equivalent to the price of the piece they want to purchase. Then, once the campaign is over, the piece will be made and delivered within 6 weeks.
 
“We really realized working with women that we need to work around their schedule and not the other way around” explains Noora Husseini. It took her and her team a year to find the perfect network of embroiderers in all corners of Palestine. They were looking for women that would be reliable, and whose crafts would meet their high standards of quality.
 
“For instance, we had the hardest time to find women that could do a proper 'Couching’ stitching, the traditional embroidery style of Bethlehem, and to this day, we only work with two women that really master this stitching,” says Noora.
 
Her aim, she says, is to empower those women by getting them involved in a business producing pieces sold internationally. But she also knows that all of the women working with Taita Leila have to work around their day-to-day commitments to their families and close-knit society.
 
“We needed better planning,” Noora sums up. She’s confident customers will get used to this way of producing and understand that this is what it takes for the business to remain high-end and for the women to work without unnecessary pressure.
 
“We know we have to be delicate and respect all sensitive situations,” Husseini modestly says, referring to family or personal circumstances that may be difficult to handle for women who work with her. Taking the bigger picture into account, Noora feels that there is no way Taita Leila will be sustainable if the women leave the framework because of external reasons and constraints.
 
Taita Leila’s clothes are entirely made in Palestine, with fabrics sourced from local factories. Its website was first developed in Gaza and Noora takes pride in such a long and complex business venture. “But it takes time. A lot,” she concludes with a smile.
 

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