IN THE BAG
Le Ressac sells some of the cutest handmade handbags in Beirut.
Two years ago, Nawel Oulmekki came from her native France to Lebanon for a vacation; it wasn’t long before she was hooked. “I thought, ‘Let’s leave this cold country (France) and have a new life experience in Beirut!'”
So she did. And, like the houseguest you always wanted, she brought with her a skill: she makes handbags. She studied leather craft in France during a nine-month training, and taught herself the rest. “I continued learning more about design by myself while working.”
She now sells her bags under her own label, Le Ressac, taking customized orders and appearing in local exhibitions, including a recent craft fair at Zaitunay Bay.
Nawel, who is half Moroccan and half French, brings the leather back with her from Europe. It comes from Italy, Germany and Spain, countries where leather working is an established tradition. (She even gets the “lefts” from big brands like Hermès. The leather, as my mom would say, is like butter.)
Ethical considerations are important to her, and Nawel prides herself on knowing where her leather comes from. “In some countries, they use quantities of very dangerous chemicals during the process of tanning, (as chrome), which is killing A LOT of people there just to provide cheap leather for the rest of the world. I prefer to pay more and sleep with my conscience clear.”