Fashionary Frankfurt interviews Neima Sitawi on Refugee Atelier Project

Fashionary Frankfurt’s Bea Von Winterfeldt inquires about the NEIMASITAWI Refugee Atelier Project

What is the timeline for setting up the project?
A charity fashion show project which is planned for April 2017. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the fashion show, including an auction of 10 pieces from the NEIMASITAWI luxury collection, will go to building the infrastructure for the atelier this summer. The “Believe in Love” t-shirt collaboration with artist, Maria Moscato will in part fuel the financing for this initial event.  By fall, we plan to have our network of pop up ateliers activated. These are local couture tailors, in Geneva and eventually other cities, willing to make their workshops available after hours for training sessions. Eventually, our ladies will be hired on for apprenticeships in these same ateliers and be given the business training skills to eventually open up their own small shop or work as a paid dependent of one of our partners.

What criteria do the women that are taken into the program need to fulfil?
We require a basic sewing knowledge and any other related skill on a case by case basis. We are also looking for one or two bi-lingual (English, French, Italian and Arabic) ladies with university experience, preferably business to be hired on as a coordinator.

How is this project going to be set up? You are writing that “The mission of this project is to help displaced women in need around the world to find meaningful and fulfilling work to support their families.” How are you planning to realize this?
We are working with a not for profit organisation called Humanity’s Heart. Their objective is to broker relations between people in need and volunteers willing to help.  They will identify the groups of women that have the skill set required and submit their candidacy.  The infrastructure will be donated, the education team will in part be voluntary with the exception of the Master instructor and the equipment will be purchased with the funds raised at the charity fashion show.  The goal is to eventually have our own independent space, “Atelier” where we can receive large volumes and create specialised training rooms.

You are mentioning that there will be a training centre for women. Where should that be located and what trainings will you offer?
The training center will be in Geneva Switzerland and eventually can be rolled out in other cities. The centers do not always need to focus on sewing. The focus of the center will depend on the specialisation of our fellow collaborators in different cities who wish to launch a center. A web designer could launch a digital refugee platform in Paris while a master chef could launch a culinary platform in Lisbon. The goal is to get people trained, motivated and mobilised to give a chance to provide for their families and to quickly be a part of their new communities.

Will you specialize in any profession as you and Neima are artists / designers?
Our center will focus on tailoring and reparations as well as business skills.

Who will train the women and will you also offer administrational support for setting up a business?
We will have a master tailor from Italy to train the women technically whereas I will personally train the women on business set up skills and we will have a local language professor to improve their verbal communication skills.

Neima Sitawi                                                    Maria Moscato

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