As International Women’s Day – on the 8th March – is fast approaching, what better time is there to shine a spotlight on Pink Jinn and their incredible work?
Pink Jinn is the brainchild of Laura Cretney, an international development consultant and PhD researcher focusing on the conflict in Yemen, who has lived on and off in the Middle East over the last seven years. After her first few months living in Oman in 2014, Laura was inspired to start the Pink Jinn blog. She hoped it would provide an alternative view of a region that was still so badly misunderstood and subject to damaging, orientalist stereotypes. For Laura, that view of the Middle East simply didn’t fit with her experience of the region’s cultural diversity, rich history and the unparalleled generosity and hospitality of its people.
Over the last six years, Pink Jinn has grown into a hub for all things Middle Eastern and North African with a blog, Arabic learning platform and online ‘Souq’ selling carefully selected, handcrafted goods made by artisans and entrepreneurs from the region. A third of all profits from sales go to Hands Up, and other charities like ours, working with victims of conflict and poverty, as well as empowering young girls and local communities at the same time. The beautiful pieces bring delight and nostalgia for those fortunate enough to have travelled these parts of the world; and joy and insight for those that have not yet had the chance. As Laura says:
“Everything Pink Jinn does rests on the belief that learning about and engaging with other cultures makes the world safer, happier and more prosperous.”
We couldn’t agree more! From clutch bags made in Syria and coffee cups made in Palestine to slippers made in Morocco and oil perfume made in Egypt, the entire range perfectly draws attention to and reflects the very place it’s made. What’s more, these unique and feminine pieces celebrate the work of the Arabic women behind them, highlighting the pure craftsmanship and skill involved in making such intricate items.
The Balad al-Sham collection (through which a third of the profits on sales come to Hands Up) takes you on a journey through the Levant with its high-quality clutch bags, exquisite ceramics and colourful threaded earrings, (with the tagline ‘drop earrings, not bombs’). As eye-catching and stylish as these items are, the real joy of the range is that it gives rise to creativity, employment, and empowerment by supporting local artisans and businesses. The clutch bags, for example, were designed by a Syrian social entrepreneur and made by women in Damascus who had lost their livelihoods to the conflict and are now being given the opportunity to upskill and earn an income. The earrings meanwhile are made by a social enterprise in Istanbul which also employs and trains displaced Syrian women.
For Pink Jinn, it’s not only about donating a share of the profits to charity but about using their entire business model to drive positive change and create opportunities at every stage of the process: From sourcing from organisations that create opportunities for women and vulnerable people to using inclusive language and celebrating local cultures. After all, like us, Pink Jinn believes that to rebuild hope, we must root ourselves within the very communities where it may have been lost.
Above all, we see Pink Jinn as a place that pays tribute to the incredible accomplishments of Middle Eastern creatives – especially women – from Syria and beyond, and an opportunity for you, as supporters, to join us in this celebration.
To read more about each seller and the ethical gifts on offer, visit www.pinkjinn.com, where you’ll also find the full story behind Pink Jinn and its Souq.