Washington, D.C.- On Thursday, March 29th 2007, the first Afghanistan collection of handcrafted jewelry, home décor, and accessories was launched at Pangea Artisan Market & Café at IFC by Artizan Sarai, a unique online boutique for stylish and socially conscious consumers. The event drew an audience of over 200 people, many who were turned away at the door because of over capacity, who were interested in purchasing the label's highly anticipated collection of handcrafted jewelry, embroidered home décor, and exquisite fashion accessories.
Created by four Afghan-American sisters Alina Atash, Mariam A. Nawabi, Samira Atash, and Zohra Atash, Artizan Sarai blends inspiration from the ancient Silk Road and tempts global trendsetters with its original selection of contemporary and stylish products. The sisters, with career backgrounds in interior design, law, fashion design, and journalism, returned to Afghanistan three years ago, the first time since they left as children before the Soviet invasion.
Upon their return, they were affected by the poor living conditions and decided the best way to help was to create sustainable jobs for Afghans, who they see as willing, hard-working, and hopeful despite years of war, turmoil and oppression. They decided to create a home décor and accessories label that would elevate the image of Afghan-made products. For two years, they worked and trained artisans on design, proper finishing and quality control standards so that the products could compete on an international level.
"I am weary of Afghans being viewed as burqa-wearing, anti-American terrorists. It's a stereotype that needs to be changed. Afghans have a proud and rich history and should be respected for their talents, culture, and art. The hand embroidery, engraving, and craftsmanship that can be found there are some of the best in the world. Artizan Sarai will showcase this and bring Afghan products to a new level", states Samira Atash, fashion designer, co-founder and Creative Director.
Artizan Sarai's mission is to create opportunities for artisans in economically disadvantaged areas of the world, primarily Afghanistan, and to bridge cultures through artistic expression. The label strives to generate a strong U.S. consumer response that will drive positive change for artisans in Afghanistan.
Mariam A. Nawabi, co-founder, attorney and guest speaker noted, "There is a direct link between poverty and conflict and in order to win the peace in Afghanistan, we need to provide opportunities for the Afghan people. Americans can positively impact the lives of Afghan artisans through their purchasing power and bring hope to their future."
Artizan Sarai's official launch at Pangea Market was standing room only and offered sophisticated guests the opportunity to hear, taste and purchase a piece of Afghanistan's rich cultural heritage. As part of the event, live traditional Afghan music was performed and delicious Afghan hors d'oeuvres served. Artizan Sarai products were purchased by high official guests from the State Department, World Bank, Capitol Hill, and more, as store operators quickly restocked the popular merchandise.
Interior designer and co-founder Alina Atash, states, "We are proud that our launch was a huge success. Our collection reflects Afghanistan's cultural legacy and marks Artizan Sarai's breakthrough into the U.S. market-one that craves the rare and exclusive styles being cultivated in exotic locations."
The official website www.artizansarai.com is set to launch April 10th, 2007. The sisters' next goal is source products from other economically disadvantaged areas of the world such as Palestine and Iraq.