Sarah Beydoun of Sarah’s Bag Shines for Social Good

Lara Mansour   |   05 - 09 - 2017

A social entrepreneur and designer, Sarah Beydoun is the founder and creative director of “Sarah’s Bag”, a world-known brand of handmade bags and accessories. You may have seen her fun accessories across various department stores and e-commerce websites likes of Matches Fashion and at Moda Operandi; but behind all of the intricately embroidered and festive bags, is that all the craftsmanship that goes into the handbags done by incarcerated and underprivileged women living in Beydoun’s home country.

 

Here we learn more about the designer’s vision, the impact of the brand and her social enterprise that empower both the women who make them and the women who purchase them.

How Sarah’s Bag Started…

The Lebanese-born unusual journey in fashion began during her last college years, when she was conducting her research at Dar Al Amal, an NGO that rehabilitates women at risk and female ex-prisoners. After completing her degree in Sociology, Beydoun then made a decision to set up a business that would train and engage the imprisoned women she’d met during her thesis. Soon the designer launched her own label Sarah’s Bag in the year 2000, in the city of Beirut. The brand merges Sarah’s love for fashion design with the conscious of empowering unfortunate women; all of which reflects her high-spirited personality while creating hip and playful handcrafted lavishing pieces.

The Signature of the Bags…

Sarah’s Bag aesthetic is all about being fun and colourful yet crafted with luxurious refined details. Each handbag collection includes new textures, fabrics and techniques of traditional crafts such as hand beading, embroidery, sequinning and crocheting. The brand has kept loyal to old techniques while reviving them with fresh materials and modern design techniques. To create such intricate statement bag, each masterpiece requires anywhere between 10 to 25 hours to be complete.

The Women Behind the Bags…

Seventeen years later, Sarah’s Bag works with over 200 women, whom are prisoners, ex-prisoners and underprivileged women in Lebanon. The brand is famous for its original crafted designs that showcase the artisan’s skills, and many of which in their own will are still with the company since it first launched to this very day. Sarah’s Bag is known also for having a positive ripple effect on the artisan’s families. After the female prisoners complete their sentences, it doesn’t stop there; the brand encourages them to still be part of the company and to become team leaders and trainees to other underprivileged women across their hometown. This does not only give them the advantage into becoming financially independent, but this opportunity also helps them to overcome the shame of being former prisoners, who turn into respected citizens amongst their communities.

After all this is the kind of brand and project that’s unfortunately very rare to find in fashion—while revolutionizing the production world, Sarah’s Bag gives the world a fabulous sensation at the same time.

10 Things you didn’t know about the Founder…

Best work experience…

Nothing beats seeing an idea come to life.

The most surprising thing that inspires your work…

Our archives.

Your favourite childhood memory…

The summers I spent with my sister in my grandparents’ beach house in the south of Lebanon.

Someone you currently admire…

My mom is the person I’ve always admired and looked up to.

The last place you traveled to…

Portugal- Lisbon

Pick one food item to bring to a deserted island…

Stuffed vine leaves!

Beirut is…

Despite everything else going on in the country, Beirut is great for its dynamism, its openness, the collective energy and resourcefulness of its people, the celebration of life, the good food, the music and the arts.

Best advice you ever gotten…

Change your thoughts and you’ll change the world.

The most important thing to maintain your success…

A positive attitude, perseverance and passion for what you do and an underlying purpose for why you are doing it in the first place.

Your life motto…

Believe you can and you are half way there.

By Dana Mortada