Fathia’s Business: Al Baylasan Handmade Palestinian Embroidery
Raised in Nablus, Palestine Fathia attended Birzeit University outside of Ramallah where in 1987 she received a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology. Upon graduating, she stayed at the university as the dormitory supervisor for 11 years while earning a second degree in Broadcasting. She decided to return to Nablus to start her own embroidery business.
Fathia has created embroidery products for over 30 years. As a student at Birzeit University, she would produce embroidery pieces to be sold at events to support fellow classmates with special needs as well as those with financial difficulties. In Nablus, Fathia, with her family’s financial support, established one of the first embroidery shops in the city. Unfortunately, as the economic situation deteriorated in northern Palestine during the second Intifada, so did Fathia’s business. In 2003, after operating for five years, she was forced to close her doors.
This did not discourage Fathia’s passion for embroidery. For the past decade, Fathia has continued to embroider clothing to sell to the community through her Facebook page and at local exhibitions. Although she is still an informal business, she employs 5-8 fellow embroiderers depending on the market needs and season.
Fathia heard about the WISE II program through the Women’s Corner in the Nablus municipality. Although she opened one of the first embroidery shops of its kind years ago, her biggest barrier is the exponential increase of embroiderers in the region. Due to the competition in the field, she struggles at times to find ways to make her products unique while preserving the traditional Palestinian methods.
Through the WISE II program, Fathia feels that she has been provided with the support needed to maintain and develop her business. She is confident that she has the professional and personal resources to market her products outside of Palestine and to one day attend international exhibitions. The WISE II program was not the first time Fathia has attended seminars on business development. What distinguishes this approach from others she has attended is that it is comprehensive. Rather than just focusing on individual elements of developing a business, the program has included marketing as well as IT/Social Media and English skills. Fathia feels the program is tailored to meet her individual needs as an entrepreneur by supporting her every step of the way.
– Futoon Qadri, Outreach Coordinator