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Hanifa’s dream, one stitch at a time

Earlier this month, Hanifa, a single mother of two from Afghanistan, launched her custom clothing and accessory business, H & A Designs, with the help of the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Salt Lake City’s small business program and specially skilled volunteers. H & A Designs sells handcrafted, customizable women’s clothing and accessories made to make each woman who wears their designs feel beautiful and strong.

IRC volunteer stands with Hanifa, a participant of the International Rescue Committee's small business program
Nan Jorgensen, a graphic design artist and IRC volunteer (left), worked with Hanifa to start her business, H & A Designs. Photo: Anna Purnell/IRC

Hanifa arrived to Utah with her daughter, Asifa, and son a year ago this July. On her website, she states she grew up with no formal education and wasn’t allowed to leave her house without permission—but she viewed the world differently.

“I grew up believing that women had power in a society that believed women were powerless,” Hanifa expressed.

She started her business with her daughter in mind, as well as all the women in her home town and those she meets on a daily basis, “All women everywhere are brave. They are capable. They are powerful. H & A Designs is dedicated to proving that, one stitch at a time.”

With assistance from the IRC’s small business program, Hanifa has realized her dream and shown her daughter that women are powerful and capable. Along the way, a number of community members, all female professionals themselves, provided support to help Hanifa found her company. Nan Jorgensen, a graphic design artist, worked with Hanifa to create her logo and produce promotional materials including business cards, flyers and product tags. Sage Killian, an entrepreneur and IRC volunteer, worked with Hanifa to purchase her domain name and create her website. And Leah Naomi, a photographer, provided photos of Hanifa’s handiwork, helping her raise the profile of her business and her skill.

Today, Hanifa busily works to create unique clothing and jewelry. She looks forward to selling her products at local markets around the Salt Lake valley. You can view her work and learn more about her story by visiting H & A Designs’ website: www.handadesigns.com

For more information about our small business program and how you can support refugee-owned businesses, email us at SaltLakeCity [at] rescue.org (subject: Small%20Business%20Program%20-%20Inquiry) .