Today we meet Janette, the woman who envisioned Darzah with a mission in mind.
What inspired you to start your company?
Darzah is a part of Child’s Cup Full, a 501(c)3 non-profit social enterprise.The idea for Child's Cup Full began in 2008, when I accompanied my Educational Psychology students from the University of Oklahoma on a small fundraising initiative to support grassroots education programs for refugee children in the West Bank. The local Palestinian community appreciated our assistance, but a group of mothers approached me looking for a long term solution to their economic difficulties and asked if I could help find them jobs. As the local economy does not offer reliable work to women, I knew that finding these women reliable work would be extremely challenging. After much contemplation, I knew the best solution would be creating jobs for these local mothers. Thus, Child’s Cup Full was born. After a semester of business classes, I set out on developing a brand that could utilize my background in educational psychology, and the mothers’ desire to work. This led to the creation of Zeki Learning, Darzah’s sister brand. Zeki Learning is a children’s educational resource brand committed to creating high-quality learning materials for preschool-age children that support cognitive development and language learning. The brand exclusively employs women from Zabedah and it’s neighboring villages, where access to work is particularly scarce. As word began to circulate about Child’s Cup Full and the jobs it was creating, more and more women began approaching the organization for work. In order to help more women, we decided to form a second brand under CCF. Inspired by the prevalent knowledge of Tatreez embroidery in the region, we created Darzah.
What has been the most rewarding part of being an entrepreneur in this space?
The most rewarding part of working in this space is fulfilling our mission to empower historically marginalized women in the West Bank and share traditional Tatreez embroidery with the world.
What is a surprising lesson you learned along the way?
I could have never imagined just how much is involved in running an organization like CCF. The work is never done and there is always more to learn.
Who do you turn to for motivation and inspiration? Why?
The women we work with in the West Bank are a constant source of motivation and inspiration, they are so driven to increase their knowledge and skills and care for their family members.
What is a quote that you live by?
Although simple, the quote that I live by is “life is short”. This reminds me to stay focused and intentional on the impact I seek to make.
Do you have any advice for people who want to start being more conscious consumers?
My advice for people who want to start being more conscious consumers is to begin with what matters to you most. Living and shopping by your values will make it so much easier to stick with.
What are some small steps you do in your daily life to be more environmentally friendly?
I strive to be more environmentally friendly by consuming with purpose. This means knowing the difference between “needs” and “wants” and prioritizing those.
How do you practice self-care?
Between my work with the nonprofit and teaching at the university, life can get very hectic. I have found yoga to be an extremely important part of my routine, as it gives me time and space to get centered and recharge.
How do you want to be remembered?
I want to be remembered as someone who did what they could to fight for justice in the world. That’s exactly what we are doing with CCF and Darzah, we are empowering women that are historically marginalized by society.
What’s your favorite book of all time?
As an academic, reading is a crucial part of my work. I would prefer to talk about art, because it’s not something I get to share about very often. I really admire Banksy’s work. He started a hotel in Bethlehem and his art pops up around the West Bank occasionally. I love that he does not follow the norms of the art world and is always challenging expectations.