By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS Middle East Correspondent
Already set to celebrate her ten year anniversary, savvy Lebanese businesswoman Sarah Beydoun has dedicated her life creating a happy medium of harmony between her social activism beliefs and her love of fashion. Through her business, â€œSarahâ€™s Bagsâ€, she has found a way to use her skills as an artisan to make a difference in the lives of both the rich and the poor, annihilating social stigmas all along the way.
Born and bred in Lebanon, Beydounâ€™s modus operandi is none other than most womenâ€™s most coveted accessory, the handbag. After writing her thesis about the plight of female Lebanese prisoners languishing in prisons for some of the most heinous crimes, Beydoun recognized an opportunity to make an impact in their lives. She spent some time on the â€˜insideâ€™ of a rehab center for female convicts and got up close and personal with their daily struggles. It would be that first encounter that would set the future path for Beydoun and what would become her lifeâ€™s purpose in â€œSarahâ€™s Bagsâ€.
Beydoun sought out her own potential seamstresses in some of the toughest prisons and rehab facilities in Lebanon to create the bags, even teaching inmates how to embroider and sew beads herself. She also reached out to the poorest of the poor in Lebanonâ€™s rural areas to give those women a chance to have a better future. â€œSarahâ€™s Bagsâ€ currently employs 100 designers who create its entire line of haute couture quality purses.
As Beydoun admits herself, each bag carries with it just a little bit of the impoverished or imprisoned woman who created it. The designs range from glittering spectacles of bling wear to socially aware pieces, like the ones featuring high ranking celebrities like Lebanese singers and even a queen or two. And the results have been outstanding and certainly a surprise to Beydoun. Everyone from top celebrities to the richest elite has clamored to have their own bag.
â€œSarahâ€™s Bagsâ€ can be found all over the Middle East and in Europe gracing the shelves of the most select boutiques. A single bag starts at $400, with more detailed bags fetching a handsome ransom. The company has also expanded over the years to include everything from shoes to belts to custom-designer jewelry and scarves.
Seeking to mark her tenth anniversary in style, Beydoun plans to handpick ten women to use her purses as their own personal canvas. Each woman will be allowed to share her personal trials and tribulations right on the handbag. In some small measure, they can use the power of the purse to let their voices be heard.
The awards and accolades Beydoun has begun collecting have been quite notable. Most recently, Beydounâ€™s line of socially aware purses were featured in Washington D.C. as part of the Kennedy Centerâ€™s International Festival. The future looks bright for Beydoun as an eager buzz, stretching clean across the globe, surrounds her company. However, the designer remains true to her roots promising to make employing less fortunate women the lifeblood of her company.