Reborn is a fashion company based in Palestine and founded by Palestinian Haya Khalifah. The core of the brand is based on local embroidery traditions fused with western style. The brand’s ambition is to preserve Palestinian traditions and culture which are at risk due to the unstable political situation. The company is founded by and employs a tailor and a number of freelance skilled embroidery craftsmen.
Palestinian designer Haya Khalifah was born in Jordan in 1991 and moved to Palestine in 1994. “My father thought that raising his kids away from war was safer for us,” Haya Khalifah tells. Haya is 26 years old, single and have so far no children. “I have always been inspired by Coco Chanel and the way she started from nothing.”
“I graduated from computer system engineering college. It was my parents’ wish, not mine. My passion has always been fashion. Unfortunately, we don’t have fashion colleges in my country. Besides, my family refused the idea of me becoming a fashion designer as the tradition in my country for skilled students is to study medicine or engineering. Students with lower marks usually study fashion, music or the arts.
However, after graduation and working in a computer engineering company, I felt like killing myself slowly as I was working without loving what I did. Eventually, I decided to challenge my family and community and become what I love to be, a fashion designer.
Watching celebrities in gorgeous dresses during the Oscar Awards has intrigued me since I was a little girl, and now I am dreaming of dressing one of the famous movie stars myself.”
What has been the worst obstacles building your company?
“Firstly, funding is a problem. I insisted on staring this project although I had no money. I therefore started with a small amount of money (my computer job salary) for my first creation. Now, I have to wait for the next income to finance the next collection.
Secondly, online shopping is not common in Palestine. People shop in retail stores and renting a retail space is costly. I tried to sell my designs on websites such as Amazon and Etsy. However, Palestinian bank accounts and bank cards are not easily accepted on these platforms since Palestine is not recognized as an independent country.
Thirdly, I would need more fashion design education. However, there are no such tuition in Palestine. Finally, fabric in Palestine is of poor quality and access to global markets to buy fabric is very difficult for Palestinian ID holders.
What is your next dream?
Create a well-known international brand and see my dresses on Hollywood movie stars.
What advice would you give other women wanting to step into their power and live out their dreams?
I repeat what Walt Disney once said: If you can dream it, then you can make it!
So sisters all over the world! Don’t ever stop believing in your dreams and don’t give up because you will make it sooner or later if you work hard for it. The universe will reward you.”
Tell us more about the impact you want Reborn to have on local communities or even the world?
Locally: As a young woman, who is challenging a whole society’s old-fashioned thinking, to make my dream come true, I feel obliged to stand shoulder to shoulder with my fellow sister citizens in Palestine who try to do the same. I want to become a good role model. I believe that all women must work to lead independent lives in order to change old traditions. I hope ReBorn will be able to offer jobs for more women.
Internationally: To raise awareness about the Palestinian heritage globally to protect it from disappearing due to the political situation. In Palestine I would love women to wear Palestinian embroidery on for all occasions and not only for cultural occasion.
Tell us about the challenges of Palestinian women?
“The biggest challenge for Palestinian women is gender discrimination. I would for instance need permission from my father and brother before I take any decisions. Living in an occupied country with an unstable political, financial and social situation affects all Palestinians. It is for instance difficult to reaching out to local and international markets as Palestinians.”