April 14, 2013

Up Close & Personal: Sarah Beydoun of Sarah's Bag

I love fashion but also feel very strongly about helping the poor and underprivileged and being charitable to them. Sarah Beydoun, founder of Sarah's Bag, has found a way to combine  these two opposing loves to create a brand of stunning handbags and accessories, while at the same time benefitting the underprivileged. Her items are made by artisans who  happen to be prisoners and ex-prisoners from Lebanese jails. 

Sarah & I at her stand at Beirut Art Beat 
Sarah's Bag is now a very well established brand in the Middle East with beautiful bags which are each a piece of art. Even better, you can feel good about carrying them! I met up with Sarah at Beirut Art Beat and asked her a few questions about her brand. 
Here is my interview with a truly inspiring designer:

Tell me about Sarah's Bag?
I am the Creative Director and Founder of Sarah’s Bag. After studying sociology at the American University of Beirut, I got master's degree from the Université Saint Joseph where I wrote my thesis on prostitution in Lebanon. I launched Sarah’s Bag soon after graduation and my first collection was a set of 12 handbags made by prisoners in Baabda prison that I sold at a craft fair in downtown Beirut. 

I then opened my atelier in Beirut in 2000. It brought together my love of design and fashion with my desire to work with underprivileged women. Today over 150 artisans form the backbone of Sarah's Bag.  We focused on bringing Middle Eastern pop culture into the mainstream, and on reviving and reinventing the region's rich traditions of craftsmanship, embroidery, crocheting and textile making.

Tell me about the women and prisoners who work for Sarah's  Bag?
Our bags and accessories are designed around the skills of the prisoners and ex- prisoners that we have personally trained and worked with for the past thirteen years. The designs incorporate techniques we’ve taught them and we are always to looking to expand their repertoire. A lot of the women we work with were prisoners when they started with us, and many continued to work with us after they served their sentences.

Each one of them has a different story to tell, but they all had to overcome very difficult circumstances, both inside and outside prison. A lot of them had to rebuild their lives and reintegrate into their communities while facing the stigma of being ex-prisoners. I am especially proud of some of our artisans who trained women and girls 
from their villages and became heads of small Sarah’s Bag teams.

How has your brand evolved over time?
We started in the Middle East and built up a strong clientele in Lebanon and the rest of the Arab world. Arab women love buying handbags that are stylish, culturally relevant to them, while at the same time benefitting underprivileged women in their society. We then started to expand and sell internationally.

Do your bags change each season or do they carry over?
We have signature pieces that are inspired by Lebanese pop culture and textile traditions, the golden age of Egyptian cinema, and Arabic poetry. These are our classics, but the bulk of the bags do change each season.We choose a theme based on textile traditions of other cultures like Africa and Central Asia and base a whole collection on it. 

(A typical Sarah's Bag inspired by Egyptian Cinema)

Which is your favourite bag from this season?
Whatever I am working on right now is the piece I love. Right now the focus of my obsession is on our latest bag collection, Summer Blues, which is beaded and very brightly colored: colors that make me happy and make me think of summer such as turquoise, cobalt blue, coral, sunshine yellow.

I have a soft spot in my heart for the first ever Sarah’s Bag: it’s small and has a pink rose sequined onto a black background. I had it framed and it hangs in my office.

1st ever Sarah's Bag made for Sarah's mom

Have you expanded your product offering?
Yes, we also sell accessories, headpieces,  scarves, kaftans, IPAD covers, laptop bags and home accessories. (All of these items can be found on Sarahsbag.com)

Where in the U.A.E can my readers buy your bags? Online? 
You can find Sarah’s Bag at O’de Rose on Al Wasl Road, Boom and Mellow in Mall of The Emirates and Sauce Boutique at Dubai Mall. Online, at our eshop shop.sarahsbag.com

To read stories of some of the prisoners who work for Sarah's Bag, go to www.sarahsbag.com and click 'Our Artisans' at the bottom. The stories are truly inspiring. They make me in awe of Sarah Beydoun for helping these women find their way back into the world while at the same time, creating a fashion brand that rocks! 


  1. Hello Tala,

    So i wrote a long comment but it some how got deleted. Oh well!

    I stumbled on your blog last week while looking for Victoria Secret (franchising) in Dubai and honestly i have been hooked ever since then. I love your sense of style. lol

    Sarah's bags are really nice especially the ipad case cover and the Um Kalthoum Trio Clutch, i like the fact that shes giving back to society.

    My older sister is into bags as well; www.minkudesign.com You should check out her bags, pure leather and all handmade.

    Nice blog!



    1. Hello Tai,
      Thanks for your lovely comment! I'm SO glad ure enjoying my blog and my style :) It's comments like yours that keep me writing!
      I will definitely look up your sister's bags :)

  2. I love these! Super trendy; big enough to hold everything I really need.I'm actually pleased with the colors of leather hobo bags, just as these on cwmalls.com, because they goes well with my outfits.

  3. Nice post. These bags are looking so beautiful. This blog is so helpful for the user those want to know about the Sarah's bag. Thanks to sharing it....

    Sarah's Bag


I look forward to reading your comments :)