Dynamic, passionate and driven, with an epicurean’s delight in beauty and art, founder and creative director Sarah Beydoun designs handbags and accessories known for their stellar craftsmanship and vibrant, high-spirited appeal.
Born and raised in Beirut, Sarah’s unconventional journey in fashion began during the final year of her master’s degree in sociology, when she was conducting research at Dar Al Amal, a local NGO that rehabilitates women at risk and female ex-prisoners.
As both a fashion label and social enterprise, Sarah’s Bag works to empower underprivileged women. The signature hand beading and embroidery the bags are known for is meticulously crafted by a team of over 200 women, among whom are female prisoners, ex-prisoners and underprivileged women in Lebanon. Most of the designs are created to showcase their skills.
Trained by the Sarah’s Bag team, they are skilled artisans in their own right and some have been with the company since it first launched in May of 2000. Some of the prisoners used the income they earned to overturn wrongful convictions; others to support their families while they are incarcerated. Once out of prison, Sarah’s Bag encourages its artisans to train other women in their towns and villages, thus creating much-needed jobs in some of the poorer communities in Lebanon.
Soon after, she decided to set up a business that would employ the women she’d met during her fieldwork. She launched Sarah’s Bag in 2000, bringing together her love of fashion and design with the mission to empower underprivileged women. Sarah’s exuberant persona shines through each of her hip, whimsical and luxuriously handcrafted creations.
As a result, these women are soon regarded as valuable members of their communities and their new status helps them to reintegrate into society and ease the stigma of being ex-prisoners. Since 2013, Sarah’s Bag has also provided the artisans working behind bars with certificates of completion, proof of their training and work experience with the label so they can find work once they are out of prison. In addition, through initiatives like a 2015 exhibition entitled Women Rising, the label collaborated with the prisoners to create hand worked pieces of art to raise funds to improve prison conditions.
The Sarah’s Bag team of artisans also includes women from underprivileged backgrounds across Lebanon. Some are illiterate with few options for employment, while others come from conservative backgrounds and are not allowed to work outside their homes despite desperately needing an income to help support their families.
Sarah’s Bag handbags combine a colourful and sophisticated aesthetic with luxurious, meticulous craftsmanship. Each collection is both an exploration of new materials and techniques, and a revival and reinterpretation of traditional crafts such as hand beading, embroidery, sequinning, crocheting and fabric manipulation. Sarah’s Bag is on a mission to keep ancient techniques alive and fresh by using them to interpret modern designs. An artisan can work up to 25 hours on a single piece to bring these designs to life. Sarah’s Bag is constantly discovering and experimenting with new materials and techniques, whether it’s Perspex and resin to create minimalist masterpiece statement clutches or revamping traditional woodwork techniques such as marquetry and wood and pearl inlay to create unique and glamorous minaudières.A A A A