Handcrafted in Beirut Lebanon, VANINA is a socially-conscious brand that explores the synergy between fashion and sustainability through its vintage yet modern designs. The business first began in 2007 when childhood friends Tatiana Fayad and Joanne Hayek decided to make jewelry out of depreciated Lebanese coins. By adopting the process of up-cycling, the creative duo create whimsically beautiful pieces out of unwanted, low-quality material such as tin cans and non-biodegradable plastic bags. Each piece of jewelry is ethically-sourced and handmade in Lebanon. To Fayad and Hayek, fashion is a tool for raising social and environmental awareness in today's society.
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| TALKING LEBANESE COINS, GIRLFRIENDS AND JEWELS WITH TATIANA + JOANNE |
TJF: How did Vanina come about?
T+J: It was a very spontaneous start. We were 19 years old at the time, still in first year university. Tatiana and I (Joanne) were childhood friends; we had always felt a creative complicity between us, and we were sharing the same passion for design. We created a first jewelry line, called ‘coined’, made out of upcycled old Lebanese Lira coins. The line had a great success here in Beirut, and it rapidly started to raise international interest. The next year, our company was founded, and here we were, shipping our first orders to Paris, Dubai, etc. Since then, the brand has slowly evolved to become a lifestyle fashion label, presenting today numerous lines of jewelry, apparel, and accessories. We have learned, along the years, that fashion is a tool for social and environmental development, specifically in a country like ours, in Lebanon. We try, through our lines, to engage communities and promote sustainable lifestyles and methods.
TJF: How would you describe your customer?
T+J: A woman who loves to take care of herself, with a strong sense of fun and glamour. She is young at heart, no matter her age. She’s a loving person who cares about the others and the environment, she pursues her passions and makes bold choices.
TJF: What is the inspiration behind your designs? And where do you find inspiration?
T+J: We get inspired by everything that surrounds us. Beirut has such an inspiring energy, we are always inspired by its life, its culture, its art, its issues.. We also get inspired by movies, music, nature, an endless list of things which we are exposed to everyday. And most importantly, a lot of times, our inspiration starts from the materials themselves. Especially the ones that we collect and upcycle. They each present unique opportunities of transformation which we love to explore.
TJF: Does your collection reflect the latest trends?
T+J: We never really make it a point to follow the trends. We have our own methods of creation and design, which are kind of parallel to the fashion industry. However, being active in the international fashion sphere, we are always exposed to the upcoming trends. So, unconsciously, we would say we definitely respond to them, in a way or another.
TJF: What are your favourite pieces?
T+J: Hard to choose... I think overall we have a very emotional relationship with our products. Because of their stories, journeys, and the people behind them.
TJF: How would you describe your personal style?
T+J: A spontaneous blend of romantic and fun, glamour and casual, vintage and modern.
TJF: Who’s your muse?
T+J: We’re lucky to have a circle of girlfriends who happen to be amazingly inspiring ladies. Working as a duo, we constantly inspire one another as well :)
TJF: Is there a quote or saying that you live by?
T+J: ‘It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.’ - The Little Prince, Antoine de St Exupery
TJF: What’s your favourite city in the world?
T+J: Would it be narcissistic to say Beirut? :)
TJF: What’s your favourite flower?
T+J: Dahlias and dandelions.
TJF: What’s the best part about being a designer? And the worst?
T+J: Your mind is always stimulated. You learn to always think outside the box, to find beauty in the world, and to create with love. The worst, I would say, for people like us who are at once designers and entrepreneurs, are the times where you feel your days are filled with managerial work.. so much that it takes over your creative time. But, doing both is a great feeling. It’s like having a dream, and waking up the next day to realize it. It’s a challenge every day to make our vision a sustainable one; but we love the thrill.
TJF: If you weren’t a jewelry designer, what would you most likely be?
T+J: A humanitarian, an architect, a pianist, a scientist, a dancer, etc.