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BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles alumna co-creates EMPWRMNT

Denim bags stacked in a basket
  • Written byJ Tilley
  • Published date 21 May 2021
Denim bags stacked in a basket
EMPWRMNT @emp.wrmnt

BA (Hons) Fashion Textiles alumna, Nathalie Ballout co-created EMPWRMNT - a platform designed to support women through artistic collaboration. Nathalie and her business partner, Jamaica Noferini aim to celebrate craftmanship by creating upcycled, wearable garments all in collaboration and support of various artisans across the world. We caught up with them to hear more about the project and how others can get involved and show their support.

Tell us about EMPWRMNT. What is the purpose of the platform?

EMPWRMNT is a platform that supports women’s empowerment through collaboration with local artisans on a global level. Our intent is to expand our reach to become an informative outlet and a transformative platform aiming to uplift and empower women and minority communities in our journey.

Our first project is with Alsama Studio, located in the heart of the Bourj al-Barajneh refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon. The Studio currently employs 25 artisans, particularly Syrian and Palestinian refugee women, as well as Lebanese women living below the poverty line, who create bespoke, hand-made embroidery art.

With transparency at the heart of the collection, I have designed a sustainable handbag made from upcycled denim that is being produced in collaboration with the incredible women of Alsama Studio. We are now planning our trip to film a documentary that takes people on a journey to highlight the process that goes into the creation of each bag whilst shining light on the wonderful artisans that have handcrafted them in an effort to give them new possibilities for the future. We are confident that by strengthening and sustaining the women of Alsama Studio, their community as a whole will benefit and in turn, be empowered.

Denim bag hanging from a tree
EMPWRMNT @emp.wrmnt
It’s really interesting how your practice works to merge environmental and sociological issues in to one. What inspired you to use your expertise in this way?

My long term goal has always been creating a recognisable brand that becomes synonymous with supporting movements for social and environmental issues across the globe - using fashion as my creative outlet to not only make wearable art but to educate people on things that really matter.

In what different ways can the LCF community and beyond, get involved and show support?

If you want to show support and make sure you’re up to date on our projects follow us on @emp.wrmnt and help us spread awareness.

After such a turbulent year for all, what are your hopes for 2021 both professionally and personally?

Professionally I hope that we manage to film and release our first documentary this year. I hope to continue to empower, educate and inspire people around the world through our platform while enjoying the process of it growing and evolving.

Personally I hope to continue to stay healthy and positive and build new wonderful relationships regardless of the current situation.

What would your advice be for anyone graduating LCF in the coming months that may be uncertain about where they want to go next?

My advice to anyone graduating and uncertain on where they want to go would firstly be to think about what their big long term “why” is. With that in mind look into your strengths and figure out the best ways in which you can harness them. Try out different paths till you find one you enjoy and that feels right. Enjoy the learning process.

If you have a specific dream/goal already set out then start slowly working towards that without being afraid of failure. We learn from ALL of our mistakes- mistakes are good so reflect and enjoy the process. Be realistic with your time frame, as much as we’re used to everything being so fast paced nowadays, success does not come overnight. Try as best as you can to make all your decisions align with your morals and your “why”.

Bags and tulips on a block
EMPWRMNT @emp.wrmnt