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Soumak Boutique in the News: New Canadian Media

Soumak Boutique in the News: New Canadian Media
Rasha Youssef and Elvira Seydaliyeva never imagined that their passions for humanitarian work and craftsmanship would allow them to start their own business in Canada.

As refugees hailing from Syria and Azerbaijan respectively, their primary goal was to rebuild their lives. “It was a dream,” Youssef said. “Together, we had a vision of building our own business selling handmade products made by Syrian refugees in Canada.”

Rasha Youssef (left) and Elvira Seydaliyeva (right) at the Vancouver Christmas Market. Photo supplied.

In March, that dream will move one step closer to reality: Youssef and Seydaliyeva are opening their first brick-and-mortar store at Granville Island Kids Market in Vancouver. 
Soumak Boutique, a love letter to their experiences as refugees and to their Middle Eastern origins, supports refugee women artisans by providing them a platform to showcase and sell their handcrafted goods.

Youssef and Seydaliyeva represent a growing trend among refugees towards self-employment and entrepreneurship in Canada. According to the UNHCR, 14.4 per cent of refugees in Canada are self-employed or business owners compared to 12.3 per cent of people born in Canada. 

“By connecting with refugees, we show people here that our Middle Eastern culture is full of colours, beauty and stories,” Youssef said.

Originally published on New Canadian Media.