Joelle’s journey with GIL, from Passion to Fashion
Joelle Hemmede is a young woman living with her parents and three sisters in Jabal Mehsen, North of Lebanon. Even though she is a third-year Translation student at the Lebanese International University, she is avid for Fashion Design and has a natural talent for sketching. "I wanted to enroll in one of the capital’s universities and major in Design but my parents were against it. They deemed my chances of success to be minimal in such an unconventional career path," stated Joelle with disappointment.
At only 20 years old she already has big aspirations, "having my own brand has always been my dream as a little girl. I kept my passion alive inside of me," she said. "Sometimes I fail to focus on my studies because my mind is consumed with fashion-related research," she added. Joelle’s project consists of creating her very own fashion brand and selling her designs online. "I buy fabrics and sketch different outfits in order to prepare my collection. I do matching mother-daughter clothing and I also offer my clients tailor-made services," she proudly added.
Encouraged by a friend of hers, Joelle decided to apply to The Generation of Innovation Leaders – GIL with INJAZ Lebanon, a programme powered by UNICEF Lebanon and funded by the Kingdom of Netherlands and The Andan Foundation. "Before GIL I occupied small jobs for pocket money and a sense of independence. But when I got offered the opportunity to benefit from hands-on training with professionals and a possibility to fund my project, I felt closer than ever to my goal," she exclaimed.
Joelle found in GIL the motivation and unwavering support she lacked at home. "It saddened me that my family did not believe in me; no one accepted my idea at first. They could not fathom the concept of online shops," explained Joelle. Fatima, GIL’s coach, helped Joelle in planning the business model of her start-up and gave her the needed training for pricing, costing, and branding.
Despite the lack of encouragement she found at home, Joelle was able to benefit from her mother’s extensive sewing experience. "My dad had great concerns when it came to my mother’s involvement. He thought that it would overwhelm her and make her neglect her household chores," she said, "but if it wasn’t for her I couldn’t have done it."
Joelle is only one example out of many courageous Lebanese young women who are fighting to fulfill their dreams regardless of the little support they get from their communities, and GIL was definitely her way out! "GIL gave me the chance to prove myself to my parents and it brought me a sense of self-satisfaction," Joelle said. She then added,
"I realize that doing the first step is the most difficult part but if you have a vision and you believe in yourself, nothing can stop you; especially when you are surrounded by the right people. GIL literally propelled me into the business world and consequently into adulthood. It was like an electric shock. Today I am productive, financially secure and I have grown so much."
Joelle is on the road to success as a fashion designer and already getting a great feedback on her work on her Instagram page (@joelle.official.lb) where she’s promoting and selling her clothes pieces. Her plan is to expand her business internationally and aims to establish her own workshop which will enable her to have a bigger operation. She wants to produce a 100% Lebanese brand and keep on sending her beautiful personalized notes along with her packages.
"Never let anyone discourage you; always fight for your goals and dreams," she concluded.
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