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  • Laila Jewayni

My Journey through the Pandemic

The past year and a half has been anything but easy. I’ve been a little more than radio silent on Äyna so I thought this was as good a time as any to give you a much-needed update.


What happened?



Last year, I had to leave Senegal due to COVID and for personal reasons. It was a difficult decision to make, but one that I knew I needed to make for myself and the future of Äyna. I came back home to the DC area to get my bearings and figure out the next steps in my life. I kept my online shop open, but I promised myself that I would take however long it took to figure things out. That I wouldn’t pressure myself into finding the next artisans for Äyna if it didn’t feel right. I also promised myself that I would take that time to reflect on what I wanted for Äyna. What it meant to me and how it would evolve with me. Äyna means “mirror” in Farsi and that’s exactly what this brand is—a mirror of what I value. During the pandemic, I went through a major transformation so it became clear that naturally, Äyna would also need to transform.


Over the course of the next 6 months, I dived deep into personal work and my own studies. I decided that for the time being I would sell what I had and keep working on brainstorming ways that I could keep my small business going during a global pandemic. You see, before the pandemic hit, I was booked to travel to India and Bali to meet with new artisans. By the end of March 2020, all my flights were canceled. As much as I tried to keep hope alive, as the days passed, the less likely it seemed that it would happen. Fast forward to June 2021, Bali and India are still closed to international tourists.


While reflecting on who I wanted to work with moving forward, it became crystal clear that women were it. My passion was in working with and empowering marginalized women who were the caretakers, healers, and mothers of the world.


A New Day




In January 2021, I was connected with an incredible NGO, Her Future Coalition, which gives survivors of human trafficking and abuse shelter, education, and jewelry training in India. The work that they do touches my heart deeply and I was excited at the thought of hiring and working with their artisans. They had everything set up for me to partner with them from afar and were eager to work with my brand. We started working on the initial stages of the partnership and immediately there was a mutual understanding and excitement for the future. I sent them my designs in February and as we were moving forward with the operational aspect of production, the devastating second wave of the pandemic hit India. They were forced to shut down everything and have started a COVID relief fund to help keep the women and children in their programs safe.


If you can donate, please consider contributing even if it’s a small amount <3 Every dollar counts. If donating isn’t possible, please keep India and its people in your prayers as the country continues to recover from this crisis.


Riding the Waves




Right now, everything has been put on hold—I don’t know when (or if) we’ll be able to pick things back up again. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from this pandemic, it’s to get comfortable with uncertainty and to let go of any ideas that I have control. I may have a plan, but the universe may have an entirely different one for me.


For now, I will produce my pieces as I navigate these new waters. Profit from any sales will go towards a fund to hire female artisans as soon as it’s possible. Here’s to riding the waves of life with a surfboard beneath my feet and humility in my heart.


With immense gratitude,

Laila






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