2014 FINALIST

Deena Gabr - Deena Abdul

Finalist of the The FEED Most Socially Responsible Handbag



Egypt



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2014 Finalist Deena Gabr Deena Abdul

Deena Gabr FINALIST'S PROFILE

What country are your bags manufactured?
Cairo, Egypt

Please explain how your bags are socially responsible?
As an Egyptian born citizen, I was privileged to be raised in a community of unity and deep culture. My bags are socially responsible due to the fact that although I was given the opportunity to reside in the states, I was persistent on manufacturing in Egypt for many reasons. First, I wanted to provide opportunity and employment for talented individuals that know the trade well. I wanted expand the manufacturing process in leather, as it is a very rich textile. Secondly, I wanted to be able to provide a healthy working environment and work ethic for those that have faced hardship the past few years with the political upheaval. I focused on updating already established factories with new equipment and set appropriate working conditions for employees. All the while, our profits aid in helping feed those less fortunate through our partner charity, Meena. In addition, a percentage of our proceeds help purchase dairy and meat for citizens who cannot afford healthy well-balanced meals. Due to the political unrest, food and health has been difficult to maintain for hard working individuals. Most importantly, we strive on providing opportunities for the younger generation that is eager to learn and express their creativity when facing financial hardship. Our partner Charity Organization, Meena, is focusing on providing for those in need of food and shelter with an eye on children.

Do you work with local/native artisans to design your bags?
Working with an established leather manufacturer helped Deena Abdul in providing teachers and management. Given those individual talents, we focused on teaching the craftsmanship to those individuals eager to learn and work in such an exciting environment. We are proud to say, we work with local artisans to bring forth the rich culture and deep roots of the land of Luxor through design and creativity that can be experimental but worth the effort.

Working Conditions - Are the manufacturers/artisans that are being employed being treated humanely, of age, and working in safe and acceptable conditions? Please explain.
We have made sure of the working environment of the factory we have decided to partner up with. We helped update equipment, set proper scheduling, and increased wages for the mental and physical stability of our employees. It is a privilege getting to know every individual in the factory and understand how we can aid in the goals and happiness. Moreover, we have made sure there is regulatory management overseas to manage any discrepancies in our warehouse as well as with employees. In addition, we set up the warehouse with safety precautions and health focus; Better hygiene and appropriate uniform, and proper scheduling is just to name a few. There are no child labor laws in Egypt, however, we made sure that anyone interested in helping brand us, will have to follow age guidelines and appropriate protocol. In turn, we now are able to set educational opportunities for those interested in our future plans.

Why did you choose this country to have your bags made and what made you decided to give back?
Egypt is well known for mass manufacturing of textiles, well-known brands, and trade of course. However, branding out of Egypt is my largest focus and deep mission I wish to conquer. I want Egypt to be well recognized for designers that are rising and brands that are establishing themselves next to high-end designers all over the world. I want Egypt to be in every fashion event as a designer and not just the manufacturer. I want to give opportunity to upcoming talented designers that can create art with culture. In addition, my small mission with my art is to be a part of a great political change. If Deena Abdul can make a small difference in one person's life through their given opportunity of working environment, better wages, and love of the work during such a difficult time in history, I will have accomplished my goals as an artist. Helping Egypt rise is very important to my dream, and although it has been a very difficult financially and mentally to work with such government instability, I am honored to be part of something great. I have deep-rooted political history in my family tree and I wish to help by any means, as I am a channel here with capabilities.

See other finalists from the 2014 handbag awards