Handmade shoes bring employment opportunities

(Photos: Farah Ajlouni)
AMMAN — A local social enterprise with a unique background is on its way to make “shared economy” the greatest trend of all.

Local entrepreneur Farah Ajlouni’s company, Gioia’s Footwear, produces a variety of fashionable shoes, each of which has a unique and modern embroidered touch and supports underprivileged women in Jordan. اضافة اعلان

“Everyone has the power to make a difference,” Ajlouni said in an interview with Jordan News. “When you go into a store and select an item with a story behind it, you may not even be aware of what a great impact that has on so many people. This small purchase can make a huge difference.”

While fashion is usually associated with the latest style trends more than economic empowerment, Ajlouni has a more ambitious vision for the Jordanian fashion industry. She created a social enterprise that creates possibilities for the underprivileged. Her business supports vulnerable women by employing their talents in embroidery, art, and calligraphy.

“I am a divorced woman, with no source of income, and a child I need to support. I had no education and no hopes for a job,” said Fida Al Ajarmah, a woman living in Naour who works for Gioia’s Footwear. “This project saved me.”

The women employed by Gioia’s Footwear come from different parts of the country and range in age from early 20s to late 60s. Each of these women articulates her own unique story on the fabric by translating it into a delicate form of art. Every shoe purchased from Gioia’s Footwear contributes to a cause, such as supporting disadvantaged communities, helping animal shelters, empowering women, and protecting the environment.

Ajlouni provides fabric from her workshop to underprivileged women in Jordan, then guides them with instructions and updates them on the latest fashion trends. Then, the fabrics are assembled on the shoe.

These handmade items are not only a window to Jordanian heritage but also to the creativity of local artists. Ajlouni plans to search for more undiscovered artists in Al Zaatari camp, among other places as well, to participate in her project. Her project also supports young artists and motivates them to explore their potential by supporting their education, providing them with school supplies, and guiding them to a future of prosperity in both art and education.

These local products now symbolize strong women who weave heritage with their own hands onto pieces of fabric. It is a beam of hope where the dreams of rural women intersect with city style. Ajlouni also sees another aspect of the project, which is to shed more light on the importance of art. “Sadly in our world, artists are not being supported as they should be,” she said “The mentality of people in these areas does not see a future for art or artists. But this project is proof that even these undiscovered skills can build a bright future.”

Ajlouni has a detailed future plan for Gioia’s Footwear, starting with presenting the upcoming collection, giving embroidery training courses, and introducing new ideas and shapes. But no matter how many changes the project undergoes, the purpose will remain the same: To show people that sometimes being a part of a good cause can be as simple as redirecting your taste in fashion, and wearing what really matters to you.

“This project helps me and my daughters, and many other women in Madaba financially,” said another participant in the project, Ghuzlan Bin Saeed. “I hope this project grows even bigger after the coronavirus ends, and helps more women in need.”