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Love for fashion

My Story

My love for fashion started in the lively streets of my hometown in Syria, where vibrant colors
adorned traditional dresses at every wedding party and celebration. Even as a little girl, I was
fascinated by the beauty of styles and unique fabrics. Those early moments of playing dress-up
in my mother’s high heels and the enchanting trips to the local fabric market became the
foundation of a lifelong passion.

My mother, an amazing woman, used to make dresses for my older sister and me. From everything: new fabrics, her old clothes, and different accessories, she transformed fabrics into works of art. The family table would become a magical atelier, with buttons, zippers, and sparkling accessories spread across its surface. There, my mother’s nimble fingers would weave dreams into reality, creating dresses that made my sister and I stand out uniquely. These childhood experiences were more than just moments of play; they were the seeds of a dream that would grow with me.

As I matured, my pursuit of a formal education in fashion led me to Damascus, the historical heart of our country. Despite the absence of a dedicated fashion academy, I immersed myself in the world of fine arts at Damascus University, learning from Syria’s top artists. Simultaneously, I started a journey of self-discovery, teaching myself pattern-making and sewing. The historical significance of Damascus, its rich Damask brocade tradition, became the backdrop of my

The outbreak of war in 2011 cast a shadow over my dreams. The streets of Damascus, once busy, turned dangerous. Friends and family members were lost, forcing me to seek a new start in Lebanon and, later, Turkey. In these foreign lands, my hands continued to create beauty in the ateliers of creative designers who recognized the value of my talent. Each stitch became an act of defiance against the harsh realities of exile and xenophobia. However, I realized that the way of working in these ateliers and factories needed to change. The staff were not valued enough, underpaid, and worked under harsh conditions. Additionally, too much fabric was wasted during the cutting process, and most fabrics were made from fabricated materials that were polluting and unsafe for workers and the environment.

In 2017, I arrived in the Netherlands, specifically Amsterdam. I noticed that the Dutch fashion approach was quite different from that of Turkey, Lebanon, and even southern European cities.
What particularly caught my attention was the strong emphasis on sustainability and the environment, which fascinated and inspired me. To learn more about fashion and start-up world in the Netherlands, I started by teaching myself some Dutch and later joined the Forward Incubator organization. This organization provided start-up courses to people like me who had newly moved to the Netherlands and had no deep knowledge of the market, laws, and regulations. During this program, I met many newly arrived entrepreneurs and learned many things that helped me start my business and apply to the Dutch Chamber of Commerce.

However, my dreams faced a tough challenge when I received a letter stating that my residence permit did not allow me to open my own business. I felt sad and disappointed and thought I might have to return to Turkey, Lebanon, or another country.
The disappointment almost extinguished the flicker of hope, but my spirit refused to be extinguished. I transformed this setback into an opportunity for self-development, improving Dutch, and engaging myself in the sustainable fashion community. The registration of Yara Kanaan Atelier in 2022 marked a triumph over bureaucratic hurdles and symbolized the realization of a dream against all odds.

I recently acquired my own atelier near Sloterdijk station in Amsterdam, which became more than just an atelier; it became my haven for slow fashion, ethical practices, art, and creativity.
My commitment to sustainability echoes in the atelier’s spirit, advocating for eco-friendly practices and zero-waste methods. The journey from the vibrant markets of Syria to the heart of Amsterdam was not just a geographic transition but a narrative of resilience, passion, and an unwavering love for the craft.