Last year, Muslim Girl featured a campaign on Darzah, a beautiful ethical company that supports Palestinian refugees from the West Bank and Child’s Cup Full, handmade ethical toys, which I have bought from their website several times!
This year, Darzah is launching a new LaunchGood to help preserve a form of Palestinian art, tatreez. I interviewed the founder, Dr. Janette Habashi and Cayley Pater, assistant director. Check out the interview below and help support this important campaign.
Muslim Girl: Tell our readers more about Darzah.
Cayley Pater: Darzah is a fair trade certified, ethical fashion brand based in the West Bank, Palestine, and in the U.S. We specialize in tatreez embroidery, a centuries-old Palestinian art form that is traditionally passed down from mother to daughter. We work exclusively with traditional tatreez motifs, which means that all of our products are handcrafted with Palestinian embroidery designs, some of which date back many generations.
In an effort to preserve this beautiful art form and to provide sustainable job opportunities for marginalized women embroiderers in the West Bank, we created Darzah in the Fall of 2015 under our non-profit women’s economic empowerment initiative in the West Bank, Child’s Cup Full. Our 501(c)3 non-profit has been training and employing skilled artisans in the northern West Bank to make children’s toys since 2012, and we knew that there was a huge opportunity to share Palestinian cultural heritage with the world through tatreez embroidery – and that’s how Darzah was born.
Darzah means ‘stitch’ in Arabic, and all of our handcrafted shoes, handbags, accessories and home décor products are hand-embroidered and 100 percent handcrafted in the West Bank. The leather comes from a 100+ year-old family-run manufacturer in Hebron, and all of our shoes and handbags are handmade by skilled Palestinian artisans in Hebron as well. To give you an idea of the process, our shoes take on average 4-6 days to make. We source all of the materials in our products from local suppliers and makers so that we can support the Palestinian economy as much as we can through our entire supply chain.
Why did you create this LaunchGood campaign?
Dr. Janette Habashi: Over the past two years, we’ve realized Darzah has the potential to not only create sustainable economic opportunities for marginalized women in the West Bank, but that Darzah can also serve as an educational platform for people to learn about Palestinian cultural heritage. Many tatreez motifs are direct references to nature, such as trees native to Palestine.
Many tatreez motifs are direct references to nature, such as trees native to Palestine, flowers and animals from the region, and some designs are even linked to important historical moments or the embroiderer’s personal story. This year, we want to start building the world’s largest online database for tatreez embroidery motifs – we’re calling it the Tatreez Archive. We just launched our campaign on LaunchGood raise funds to build this online platform and also to create more job opportunities for refugee and low-income women in Palestine. If we can meet our goal, the online platform will serve as an online database comprised of indigenous tatreez designs sourced from our network of embroiderers in the West Bank, and we want to also invite Palestinians around the world to submit motifs from their own family heirlooms, documenting the embroidery motifs, their meanings and their stories.
Cayley: As an ethical fashion brand, we believe that properly attributing the designs of our products is a core part of our mission. Palestinian embroidered products can be difficult to find in North America, and we hope to grow Darzah to be a well-known platform to share and celebrate Palestinian culture and women’s empowerment.
For those not familiar with tatreez is, can you briefly explain what it is?
Dr. Habashi: Tatreez embroidery is a traditional Palestinian cross-stitch technique that’s passed down from mother to daughter, and is one of the most iconic symbols of Palestinian cultural heritage. Tatreez artists often embroider dresses (thawb in Arabic), pillow covers, shawls and other beautiful products to adorn their homes, designed with motifs that have been passed down in their families and communities for generations. What’s amazing about these embroidery motifs is that they are not only beautiful, they represent an identity and a history that connects Palestinian women across generations, and around the world.
All of the products are made with traditional motifs, as explained on the campaign page, and are handcrafted in Palestine, which means they directly create job opportunities for these talented artisans.
What are some of the items donors can receive when donating to the LaunchGood campaign?
Cayley: We’re offering customizable tatreez products as reward options for donations, which means donors can pick from a variety of colors for leather key chains, aprons, handbags, and shoes. All of the products are made with traditional motifs, as explained on the campaign page, and are handcrafted in Palestine, which means they directly create job opportunities for these talented artisans.
Dr. Habashi: The donations create jobs to make the products, to help us train and employ more embroiderers and to build the Tatreez Archive. If we raise $32,000 dollars by June 30, we will have the funds we need to train and employ six more embroiderers, and to build the Archive.
MG: What are some of your most popular items at Darzah?
Cayley: Definitely our shoes! Finding tatreez embroidered shoes is less common in Palestine first of all, and we’ve found that both people who appreciate tatreez, as well as those who are seeing it for the first time, love our shoes. They are handcrafted with genuine leather, which means that they are super comfortable, as the leather forms to your feet within a few days of wearing them. We’re excited to continue to develop new shoe designs as well, and our dream is to one day have our shoes in stores like Nordstrom!
Is there anything else you’d like the readers to know?
Dr. Habashi: We are still a very small operation, and all of our products are made in small batches – nothing is mass produced. Shopping Darzah.org or making a donation to our campaign on LaunchGood has a direct impact on our ability to keep Darzah alive, and to grow our women’s economic empowerment initiative so that we can employ women across Palestine for years to come!
Cayley: Darzah is not only part of a movement to create lasting economic opportunities in Palestine, but it is also part of the global ethical fashion movement. Everything we buy is made by people and has the power to create real, sustainable economic opportunities for skilled artisans, tailors and garment workers in the fashion industry especially. Asking important questions like “Who made my shoes?” or “Was someone exploited to make my purse?” is so important. We are proud to be part of this fashion revolution movement, and hope to be able to scale our operation to impact the lives of Palestinians throughout the West Bank, and to share tatreez with people all over the world.
Donate to their LaunchGood campaign! I have their apron and it is super cute!