We are feeling exceptionally hopeful today. Has it ever happened to you that a single moment of serendipity transformed your life? When you were not looking for it, but stumbled upon a beautiful breakthrough? The brand Tight Knit Syria was born out of a moment like that it reflects in every product that bring us till date. When Dana Kandalaft, the founder of the brand visited the refugee camps of Syria, she found something she never expected. It’s a story of how knitting kept these vulnerable communities from unravelling, and we bet you’d love every thread of it.
What is your mission at Tight Knit Syria?
Our mission at Tight Knit Syria is to help restore livelihoods for women in refugee camps by leveraging their existing skill sets in knitting and embroidery and connecting their beautiful handmade accessories with the world.
Tell us about the genesis of your brand.
Tight Knit Syria began in 2013 after Dana Kandalaft visited a camp for internally displaced persons in Northern Syria. She did so because she wanted to understand the Syrian humanitarian crisis firsthand and meet the people who were impacted. That day, an unexpected frenzy was sparked among a group of girls. One girl in particular named Sebra, pointed out Dana’s rainbow-coloured knitted purse and yelled, “Souf! Souf!” (meaning yarn). Since Dana was unfamiliar with this Arabic word, Sebra brought Dana to her tent and showed her a purple knitted dress with a crocheted flower. She had made the dress using donated yarn with the help of her mother and grandmother. This was when Dana had a lightbulb moment! She realized that she could collect donated yarn from homes in Canada and try to sell the beautiful products these women would make in her community. She wrote up a plan for Tight Knit Syria that very night!
What kind of superpower does your company possess and why should we care?
Knitting! Tight Knit Syria is all about leveraging the unique superpowers we all have. For our artisans in Lebanon and Northern Syria, a lot of them inherited advanced skill sets in knitting and embroidering from their mothers and grandmothers. Tight Knit Syria’s superpower is to break down economic barriers for the women in these refugee camps. We aim to achieve this by collaborating closely with our artisans and introducing their handmade accessories to consumers and business partners around the world.
What are your favorite products/most popular this year?
The bookmarks! They’re both practical and beautiful. Each one comes in an array of colours and patterns. They make great gifts, but you’ll end up getting one for yourself anyway. On top of that, proceeds from bookmark sales go to support our educational program for the artisans.
What are you working on for 2020 and beyond that you want us to know about?
Our main focus right now is ensuring the safety of our artisans in Lebanon and Northern Syria. We even started a fundraiser to distribute $200 USD to 10 refugee families to help off-set their expenses in these difficult times. Unlike Canada and many other countries in the world, refugees in Lebanon are not receiving any government or humanitarian support amidst COVID-19. The women are located in a densely populated refugee camp in Beirut and are now isolating themselves in their tiny apartments. Without their regular income from TKS work, it’s nearly impossible to cover the high costs of rent, food, electricity, phone connection, medication, and other daily necessities.
We are also excited to be continuing with our educational program which has been transferred to online classes, as opposed to in-person rooms. Some of our original plans for 2020 have had to change, but we’re adapting, and staying connected with our communities, and taking it one day at a time.
Contributing Author: Bhavya Jha