In compliance with one of NAYA’s missions to shed light on women from all different backgrounds, we are glad to introduce NAYA’s “Women from our Villages” series. Each month, this series will take you on a journey to one of Lebanon’s villages and introduce you to a woman who has initiated a project to progress her community. To nominate projects for this series, contact NAYA Editor Sally Farhat: email@example.com
BEIRUT: At first glance, Najat Farhat’s home, which is located in a small southern village called Nmayrieh, is compelling and unusual. Upon closer observation, it is clear that every detail holds a story, and that every item is a reflection of the host’s inventiveness.
“I used to watch my grandmother’s crochet work, and I ended up learning it at around the age of seven. I started out drawing, and developed an interest for handmade crafts early on,” Farhat told Annahar. “I was given a gift - my hands can implement everything my eyes see, but always in my own way and with my own touch.”
The crochet-maker kicked off her business after the 2006 War, originally weaving ornamental pieces like crochet phone cases and jug covers. She explained that there was a lot of demand for these items because they had been out of the market for a while.
“By 2007, I had my own stream of income. It was very important for me to be productive. The main challenge was to create a source of income from home, but I believe that I won the challenge,” said Farhat. “I expanded my craft and started making larger items like clothes and scarves, but I stopped making larger pieces for a while because I didn’t want to get too comfortable.”
Farhat’s innovation is evident in the range of her ideas, from crocheted cup holders, coasters, hair ornaments, bags, children’s clothes, and sweaters, to decorative items, dolls, and multipurpose keychains.
Her work, however, goes beyond crocheting, as she is also interested in renovating furniture and creating house ornaments from recycled materials and raw materials collected from the village.
“I don’t like stagnating on anything because I want to maintain my drive and challenge myself through change, which led me to pursue soap-making seven years ago,” said Farhat. “Natural soap was on demand because it doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. I learned the basics of soap-making and after that I allowed myself to get creative with it.”
Farhat’s handmade facial soap blends are crafted for different skin types and include distinctive ingredients and aromas like cucumber, oat, anise, rice, and turmeric.
Additionally, Farhat’s dessert business, in parallel with crocheting, has grown throughout the years and reached customers abroad.
“I started out making Arabic desserts, then I expanded into other types and made it a point to be creative in the process,” she said.
The handicraft professional initially promoted her work through family, friends, and acquaintances. She explains that she relies on a network of loyal customers in Lebanon and abroad, whose trust she has managed to acquire.
In light of the difficult economic situation, Farhat has recently chosen to focus on clothes and necessities, as opposed to complementary and decorative items.
“I make it a point to encourage women to pursue the craft and support those who are learning it," said Farhat, highlighting the importance of empowerment. “I often make time to give women and young girls crochet-making workshops at my house; seeing them succeed is very rewarding for me.”
Farhat explained that her work helps overcome tough times.
“Before anything else, it was a way for me to get through a difficult emotional state. I was insistent on proving to myself that I am capable of producing something,” Farhat told Annahar. “From a state of desperation or weakness, you can draw light and strength.”
Welcome to “NAYA," the newest addition to Annahar’s coverage. This section aims at fortifying Lebanese women’s voices by highlighting their talents, challenges, innovations, and women’s empowerment. We will also be reporting on the world of work, family, style, health, and culture. NAYA is devoted to women of all generations-NAYA Editor, Sally Farhat: Sally.firstname.lastname@example.org
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