Khayrazan Brings Slow Fashion to Nablus
“In this very highly competitive market, my role is to make clothes that fit people and bring them joy.”
Khayrazan is a tailor in the village of Bita, just outside the city of Nablus. Whenever she meets a stranger, they ask about her unusual name. Khayrazan’s father spent his life outside of Palestine, working in Kuwait. He wanted his daughter to be powerful so he chose a name that signified being “solid as a bamboo tree” – standing strong in the face of struggle and flexibility to adapt to the harshest circumstances.
The soft-spoken mother of four has had to become the main income earner for her family ever since her husband developed serious back pain and breathing problems three years ago. “He used to work as a technician. Life was sweet,” she recalls.
To start earning money she turned to sewing, patching and adjusting clothes for neighbors. She already knew how to sew, having learned the skill as a girl. With two 50-year-old sewing machines, Khayrazan would pull up the hem on pants or add missing buttons to shirts.
The machines were passed down to her from a sister. Khayrazan wanted a new sewing machine so she worked hard and took other odd jobs like harvesting olives. But she soon realized that she would never be able to save enough to buy a new one.
That was several years ago. Recently, she learned about Anera’s Women Can program. “I applied and my life began to change,” Khayrazan says. Through Women Can, funded by Islamic Relief USA, Anera provided her with small business management training and sewing equipment.
“It’s never too late. Instead of being limited in the work I can accept, with my three new sewing machines, I can do bigger jobs and develop my skills,” she says.
Now she is able to take on finishing work for factories, adding sleeves and waists to dresses.
Khayrazan was looking for a niche in the industry that is sustainable and wouldn’t require a lot of expenses to enter. That’s how she landed on the business of used clothes recycling, bringing slow fashion to Nablus. Unlike fast fashion, slow fashion emphasizes production by local artisans and the use of environmentally sustainable manufacturing. She reuses old materials and fabric and transforms them into new designs for textile companies.
“There are always clothes that people no longer want. I can turn old outfits into new ones to match current fashions. It’s tricky work, but we use our creativity.”
She and her family are currently living in a basement. She is confident that this business offers a path to eventually allow them to move into a house of their own.
Khayrazan recently hired her neighbor to help her and they are now making about $715 a month (2,500 NIS). Business has declined in recent months due to COVID-19, but she’ll keep sewing and stitching. Fortunately, Eid Al Adha brought a welcome uptick in clients.
Anera’s Women Can program is generously funded by Islamic Relief USA. The views expressed herein are those of Anera and shall not, in any way whatsoever, be construed to reflect the official opinion of Islamic Relief USA, its Islamic Relief affiliates, or its donors.