Star of The Day : Dana Kandalaft

Dana [Founder] (left) and Malak [Master Artisan] (right) in Shatila refugee camp

Tight-Knit Syria a big dream and inspiration that has aided multiple women in Syria make a living and feel empowered through their work. Dana's inspiration started with one small girl who showed fascination over her knitted bag and showed her knitted project to Dana from donated wool. That sparked a light in her soul and started Tight-Knit Syria and after 5 years of hard work and continuing her project and women she inspired has grown. Her inspiration and story about her journey have made an amazing impact on the community here in Toronto and Syria. I had an amazing chance to interview her about her progress with her project Tight-Knit Syria.

What kept you motivated for the past 5 years? 

What keeps me motivated is occasionally going back to the vision of why I started the whole project. When times are tough or feel like the project is not picking up fast enough it's because there is something bigger coming your way. Tip on staying motivated is to look back at your progress and reflect on all the things you've done. It is important that you remind yourself of these things or else you'll lose the motivation to move forward. Plus I suggest sharing your story and talking to people about your idea because it helps make the vision of your business clearer and how you can execute your plan better. 

women at work (Designing patterns)

How do you get people onboard and stay committed to your ideas?

Getting people on board with my ideas was easy for me. When I tell my story and share my goals it inspires people to go along with my vision for Tight-Knit Syria. For it is a human to human story and it's much easier to connect with them and inspire them. The most difficult thing to do is to make a tangible platform that makes it easier for people to get involved with the project. This makes it difficult to maintain people interested and involved in what I do.

Are you planning any events or campaigns in 2019?

I am planning something but it not formalized yet. I will say however that events and campaigns have helped this project grow bigger than before. They have helped spread the story of Tight-Knit Syria. The biggest event I held in 2017 and it was called 'But Syriaously'. It was out of my comfort zone but it really helped bring people together and new people to our event to learn about our cause. So I will most definitely host another event again just to spread the word about Tight-Knit Syria.

Malak choosing yarn

Are you planning on expanding your product line?

Well, I would like to expand our fashion line with more knitted products from our artisans to sell in our community.  We are collecting donated yarn and reusing it to make our product. We want to make an eco-friendly product and build a better community with our product line as we expand. We're building networks with other startups with similar goals and teaming up with them to diversify the project. 

How are women getting the help they need from this project?

We collect donated wool from people and from events and we give it to them and they make the product and we buy the product they made upfront. So that they won't have to wait for someone to buy it to get paid and sustain a living in the tough conditions they are in. This project helps ease their minds, some of our artisan find this meditative and relaxing to do plus helps them earn money to support their families.  

Finally, do you have any suggestions for new smaller startups?

It takes time and patience and keeps yourself motivated at all time even during the most difficult times. When things get tough don't ponder for a solution on your own. When you talk to people the problem will seem much smaller than it should be. Work with other startups with similar goals with you. Not only will it help you, but it will also help them and it will empower both companies. This will build a stronger eco-system for startups and smaller projects trying to grow.

When it comes to social media it's better to have 200 dedicated followers that support your cause and sticks with you all the way versus 20000 followers who aren't really involved in what you do. Your interaction with your audience has higher traction with smaller following number versus a giant following. It's okay if social media is not for you, social media is not for everyone. Like if you're selling a huge amount of special paper for crafts, and only have 3 followers. You're still selling paper and making a profit, and you don't need social media to sell the paper. 

Getting to know Dana was an inspiration and we hope she can be an inspiration to you too. I can tell you personally talking to her made me feel motivated to conquer difficulties with ease. If you wish to help her with her journey you may contact her via email. If you wish to learn more about her amazing project click here to visit her website. 

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