May seems to be Sarah Beydoun’s lucky month. She started her firm, “Sarah’s Bag”, back in May 2000, and received this year’s Oslo Business for Peace award in May 2016. With this award, she becomes the first honoree from the fashion industry. After 16 years of dedication and societal change, this Lebanese woman’s hard work and the hard work of her talented female employees, got recognition from Nobel laureates; both Peace and Economics Nobel prize winners.
At the beginning of the new millennium, the dynamic and passionate Sarah Beydoun started her small business with a handful of women. She created a line of luxurious bags and accessories handmade by underprivileged women, prisoners and former female prisoners under the name “Sarah’s bag”.
From small neighborhood workshops to an international chain, ‘Sarah’s Bag’ now has 200 female employees. These female artisans, who are the only breadwinners for their families, have been granted the opportunity to engage with and give back to their communities, and as a result can make up for lost time. Each woman directs her energy towards learning new forms of art, creating embroidery and other types of crafts and teaching others. Fortunately for these women, the past will no longer haunt them and the future will no longer worry them. They can now enjoy a decent life.
With her international Lebanese-based accessories business, Sarah has introduced a new kind of culture to the mainstream business scene. Being an exceptional fashion designer and role model, she has managed to revive ancient techniques and then introduce their modern version to the world.
Her success proves that business and ethics can go hand in hand to achieve sustainable economic and social development, removing all excuses and welcoming all initiatives.
As said by the Business for Peace Founder and Chairman, Per L. Saxegaard in the honoree announcement statement:
“Business has historically been seen as part of the problem, not a part of the solution. However, in the wake of the consensus for the UN Global Goals for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement, business’ role as a problem solver in society has never been as important as it is today.”
Artists can turn their talents into exquisite self-reflecting pieces of art, but how many of them can turn their talent into a collective act of benevolence? Sarah Beydoun is one fashion designer who has shown that this can be made possible.
For more information check out Sarah’s Bag website.