The Heroine’s Journey of Nour Najem in Beirut

What is the best thing that I love about my work?
I get to wake up every morning to do something that I love; exploring different colors, shapes, different textures and even creating my own to better express what I want women to feel when they put on one of my garments.
What is my idea of perfect happiness?  
I don’t think perfect happiness exists, it’s all about being content, appreciative and at peace with the present moment and what it offers, while still knowing where you’re going and having your eyes and your will set on a grander goal.
What is my greatest fear?  
That one day I might not be able to do what I love to do most: which is my brand, my work, my life.. I am scared that because ressources are not infinite I might have to stop before my brand (which is my baby) can actually stand on its own feet. This actually drives me to surpass myself and do everything I can for my brand all the time.
What is the trait that I most deplore in myself?
I’m very strong headed; I have my own agenda and do not change course for anyone or anything when I’m convinced of what I’m doing. It’s selfish, but kind of funny when a few years later, I revisit a situation and realize how wrong I was.
What is my greatest extravagance?  
I would have to say my willpower and ambition because I don’t stop until I get what (and where) I want.
Both of these traits are driven by a constant need to affirm my freedom and independence.
On what occasion would I lie? 
Oh we should probably add this to the list of my extravagances: I don’t lie. I’m brutally honest, and can not deal with hypocrisy. I will find a way to make the truth seem less harsh if I have to, but I will still say it as it is.
What is the influence of role models, in my work and in my life?  
I think role models are mostly there to inspire us; we choose our role models because of where we want to be, and they’re a constant reminder that there is a way, and it can be done. It’s liberating and reassuring in a way.
There are so many people that inspire me, all for very different reasons, I have constructed this character that has bits and pieces I admire from everyone, but I don’t really have specific role models.
What is the thing that I dislike the most in my work?
Contraints!! Like in everything, I have to deal with contraints in my work, like time contraints, budgets, things that are out of my hands. I dislike things I cannot control,
When and where was I the happiest, in my work?
2015 was a great year for me; after being chosen by the Starch foundation, a lot of things happened very fast, like my first fashion shows, first boutique, clients, and mostly press. I think I’m always very nervous and very happy to hear or read what professionals have to say about me, no matter if good or bad, professional reviews are always very important.
If I could, what would I change about myself?
Maybe be more compassionate, or follow more rules (I’d be pleasing a lot of people with this last one)
What is my greatest achievement in work?
Inspiring and liberating women.
A lot of work and details go into a Nour Najem garment, women minutely work on them by hand so that the end result is like a Kilim fabric. It tells a story, carries hopes and dreams of its makers to give the person wearing it courage and determination to live her dreams, kind of like an armor. The cuts are all about freedom and independence, there’s nothing constricting about them. The brand identity, and positioning and how they translate in the final products are my greatest achievement, with many more to come I hope.
What is my most inspirational location, in my city?  
The streets, I’m mostly inspired by the way people live, move, their customs, traditions, the cultural aspect of our lives and how modernity and technology finds its way in them. The streets are a great place to observe.
What is my favorite place to eat and drink, in my city? 
Beirut is always buzzing with new venues; it’s hard to chose just one.
I would have to say Sapa a Peruvian bar. But I’m always partial to traditional Lebanese or Armenian restaurants. I also recently discovered two amazing spots where you eat directly on the sea shore with your feet in the Mediterranean: Safa in Sour and Jammal near Batroun.
Who is my greatest fan, sponsor, partner in crime?
That’s a hard one; my friends and family are all very supportive, but I would have to say women from my NGO the Kenzah foundation. I created this NGO as part of the social enterprise model I follow.
For every new collection, I develop a set of handmade details and fabrics that I teach women from underprivileged backgrounds. Once they acquire the skills, they produce the details and fabrics for the brand.
By now they’re like family; they’re the first ones to ask me about pictures from the shows, and apparently I’m in their daily prayers.
Whom would I like to work with in the future?  
So many people !
Just to name a few, I would love to work with textile artist Sheila Hicks for the sense of wonder in her creations; Pierre Berge for his insight on managing a luxury fashion brand; Amal Alamuddin because together we can raise more awareness and make a bigger impact on women from underprivileged backgrounds, teach them more skills, and help them integrate the task force.
What project, in the nearby future, am I looking forward to work on? 
I’m currently working on expanding my commercial activities to Europe, and finding the right partners to do so. The next milestone will be Paris Fashion Week end of September 2016. It’s a very exciting period!
How can you contact me?
anytime you like:
nour@nournajem.com
www.nournajem.com
Facebook: NourNajemluxuryfashion
Instagram: @Nournajem_thelabel
twitter: @nournajem_label
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