BEIRUT: According to a recent report released by the World-Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), the Mediterranean Sea is rapidly turning into a dangerous plastic trap that threatens an entire ecosystem.
Although the problem seems far from being solved, eco-enterprises are rising worldwide. In the wake of this phenomenon, Lebanon is witnessing a peculiar growth of actors such as investors, venture capital funds, accelerator programs, and other financial or advisory initiatives seeking to help entrepreneurs interested in sustainability.
NAYA met Nour Kays, founder of the accessory brand NK by Nour Kays, at the conference Up-cycling 101, which was organized by AUB students for Sustainable Energy for All (SSEA).
The designer embodies a perfect example of female entrepreneurs who are surfing the wave of sustainability.
“I started my journey almost by chance,” Kays said. “I was on a trip to Vienna when I met a group of designers that were using waste to create new products. It was 2013. When I went back to London, where I was studying for my MA at Kingston’s College, I began to experiment with plastic bags.”
What had only started as a hobby was later transformed into a topic of research for her final project. The result was a collection of up-cycled products made with a new water-resistant and light material. This led to the birth of NK by Nour Kays.
Kays’ production evolved and developed with time.
“I use a compression machine to press different layers of plastic bags into a single-layer fabric,” she explained. “For the sewing part two other people help me.”
The manufacturing process takes place in Lebanon. Leftovers are then collected and transformed into smaller accessories.
Textures and colors rely entirely on the wastes used, even the designer doesn’t know exactly how final products will look.
Kays has recently expanded her collection and started designing shoes. She also collaborated with several companies and organizations such as WWF.
“I hope to recycle 70 kg of plastics - about 9000 plastic bags- in the next 5 years,” she said.
Kays claimed that her family played a major role in her road to success. She also pointed out that SwitchMed represented a decisive turn in building up her enterprise.
“I didn’t have any background in business, I came from a graphic design school,” Kays said. “The tutoring provided by SwitchMed helped me in setting up my goals and developing my idea.”
Funded by both the UN and the European Union, SwitchMed is an organization that supports social and eco-entrepreneurs to achieve productive, circular and sharing economies in 12 Mediterranean countries. By now, SwitchMed has been an incubator for 55 entrepreneurial projects in Lebanon that include NK by Nour Kays.
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.email@example.com
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