At Kannava, we partner with female refugees to create beautiful ethical fashion based on traditional embroidery techniques. We primarily work with women living in refugee camps in Jordan, giving them an opportunity to earn a fair wage, become economically independent, and offer them a chance to break the cycle of poverty that life in the camps brings. Refugees, and in particular female refugees, are afforded little chance of a prosperous future in the communities they live in, but by helping them into the workforce, we hope to promote inclusivity and financial independence.
Tatreez is a traditional Middle Eastern embroidery that can be traced back thousands of years. It is a form of storytelling that has been passed down through the generations. The art is heavily inspired by nature, with the patterns, colours and motifs unique to each region, with traditional dresses often reflecting a woman’s identity and her experiences of the environment around her. Sadly, this skill is in fast decline due to uprooting of families and the introduction of much cheaper machine embroidery capable of mass production. We want to try and protect this incredible skill by introducing it to a wider audience, and giving those that still have the ability to practice it, the opportunity it to earn from it.
We are a handmade slow fashion company. It can take over two months to make each piece, but we think this unique beautiful skill should be preserved. We design our items to last. We only work with the most talented of artisans who ensure each item is finished to an excellent standard, and as tradition dictates, can be passed down to the next generation. Each item we make is timeless and can be worn for years to come.
Education in refugee camps
Refugee camps are supposed to provide temporary shelter. In reality this is simply not the case. We work in some camps that have existed for decades, that have become forgotten slums. Severely underfunded and overcrowded, they cannot support the number of people living there. And for many they will never see life outside of their camp. As part of our drive to support refugee communities and help them to move towards breaking the cycle of poverty, we donate a portion of our sales to schools in refugee camps. Incredible teachers often work in classrooms that are way over capacity, dealing with various abilities, ages, mental health issues. Classrooms are not fit for children, and some camps don’t even have facilities to support a child’s education, leaving another displaced generation at a disadvantage. A part of every sale goes directly to these schools to try and give each child the best possible chance of an education and hopefully a future outside of the camp.
A note from the founder
I started Kannava because I want to try and change the conversation around refugees and shine a light on some of the forgotten camps that have existed for decades. I saw how refugees can be excluded from society, forcing them to rely on severely overstretched charities. I want Kannava to be a celebration of refugees, of their rich cultures and incredible talents that deserve recognition. I come from a family of refugees and strongly believe that we should look beyond the label of ‘refugee’ and help preserve part of their history and identity.
I hope the incredible craftsmanship in each of our pieces is a testament to the talents of the women we work with. I have spent time with them, I admire them as artists, and consider them friends. I am in awe of their hardiness, of their ability to raise children in the camps, and even those that have lived in the camps for most of their lives, their incredible warmth, hospitality, their dreams, hopes, desires and most importantly belief, that they can, with the right opportunities, change their lives and that of their family for the better.
We believe fashion can be a powerful force for social change.
Every purchase from Kannava helps change the stories of these women, their family and refugee children’s education.
Our stitches change stories.