our trip to afghanistan

November 01, 2010  |   column: WHAT'S NEW

in august 2010, four members of the kate spade new york team journeyed to kabul, afghanistan as part of a mission to establish sustainable employment opportunities for the women in this country. along with women for women international founder zainab salbi, our team included craig leavitt (chief executive officer), sydney price (senior vice president, merchandising), kyle andrew (senior vice president, marketing) and myself, johanna saum (public relations manager). together we embarked on a trip that was overwhelmingly educational and memorable.

in the days following our arrival, we explored a plethora of local markets and artisan shops. at turquoise mountain—a non-profit organization born out of a partnership between britain and afghanistan—we were able to see firsthand how the revitalization of traditional crafts is driving the regeneration of the historic and culturally rich town, murad khane. on chicken street, a myriad of stands and shops sold everything from carpets to gems and beads. a handful of other shops—silk, apparel, handicrafts—rounded out the tour.

among the trip’s many highlights was meeting the graduates of WfWI’s microfinance program in afghanistan and touring the WfWI training centers in kabul. as always, zainab’s compassion and devotion to changing the quality of life for these women was incredibly moving. and likewise, the admiration that these women had for zainab showed clearly on their faces.

on the final day, we held a press conference at the u.s. embassy in kabul, where we were joined by ambassador to afghanistan karl eikenberry and ambassador for global women’s issues melanne verveer—key supporters of our commitment to the women of afghanistan.

as we continue our other efforts in bosnia and herzegovina, we’re already looking forward to a trip in november where our president and chief creative officer deborah lloyd will journey to afghanistan to begin the design and development process with the resources that were identified on this trip. the hope is that, beginning in 2012, we’ll be in full swing with a product line created entirely by the women we employ in afghanistan, through our hand in hand partnership with WfWI.

more to come soon!


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