It is always truly delightful to come across so many of the wonderful and successful women of our Arab-American community. Hanadi Eljari is one of those. She was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and moved to the United States after getting married in 1996. Her three children were born in the United States.
Hanadi went to school in Beirut, Lebanon and graduated with a degree in Law. Now, how does a woman with a degree in law end up establishing and operating a chocolate business? How courageous and avant-garde is that?
“My experience,” says Hanadi, “had mostly been with administrative jobs having worked in Washington, DC for the Syrian Embassy as a Liaison Officer for Expatriates Affairs, as well as at the Libyan Embassy handling the Ambassador’s Office and Embassy Events. After that, I was working in Aqaba, Jordan as the Human Resources Manager for Ayla Aviation Academy.” That sounded like quite an interesting span of time for her spent honing many skills, as well as the fact that the variety of the hard work that she was doing made her realize that what she really desired was to be in a field where she could practice her creativity and artistic skills.
That flair for creativity is what prompted her to finally become an entrepreneur and to establish her own business that was related to her passion for design and decoration. And so, in 2014, she launched “Le Papiyon” (www.lepapiyon.com). “Papillon” is a reconfiguration from the French and means butterfly. So pretty! Her enterprise serves the Washington DC Metropolitan area. On her website, Hanadi displays her chocolate favors, gifts and arrangements for all occasions which she designs, wraps and packages elegantly. There is no doubt that going into business is challenging by itself, let alone when a woman is a wife and mother trying to balance and juggle all her responsibilities. One needs a lot of support to be able to do that.
“My husband has always been my number one supporter. He believed in me and my skills and has always been very encouraging.”
Hearing this should make us all very proud. It is not a support that one hears about often in our Arab communities, and it is refreshing to realize that it is happening more and more, and as more women choose to follow their
dreams and careers. “Unfortunately,” Hanadi says, “that support is not often the case in our community where we should be focusing more on encouraging each other, networking, lifting each other up rather than being too critical and missing opportunities that will enhance us, especially as an immigrant community trying to build up ourselves and our endeavors in the United States.”
Sadly, when any people suffer for too long under repressive regimes, turmoil, wars, and all sorts of adversity their perceptions and values have a tendency to become blurred. In such situations, they often turn their frustrations and discontent onto each other since they are unable to express their feelings towards the real causes that have been frustrating and thwarting their advancement. Hanadi’s advice to her community is a reflection on what others, too, are saying. Hopefully, time and adjustment will take care of such feelings and manifestations, and we can all rise up above our pains, frustrations and tragic memories and focus ourselves on achieving the highest ideals that we all aspire towards.
May the New Year bring Hanadi and all of you the “sweetness” that is in her chocolate designs!
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