JDEED officially turned 2 on September 28 and with this anniversary came the realizations. I have never really introduced myself nor given you a background explanation for JDEED’s existence.
By Cynthia Jreige
I’ve let it be the platform it is, welcoming designers, artists, talents to share their works, to tell their stories, to be able to express what they had to say, visually, verbally.
I never really thought it was necessary for me to tell my own story. But after 730 days, time had come to take a step back and to decide that maybe, if I’d share a bit of who I am and how I got here, I’d inspire people to pursue that dream they never dared chase; I’d show people that it’s ok to try and fail, and try again (and fail again); I’d let foreign women or half-Arab women know that they can succeed as business leaders in the Arab World; I’d let you see that it’s not because you want to give it all up that you will.
I’m not here to express how strong of a woman I am or how my moves are bolder than yours. I’m afraid, everyday. I doubt, everyday. I cry, every other day. But I have this burning passion inside of me that gets me going, weeks after weeks, months after months and now, years after years.
Of course, it isn’t all marshmallow and pink clouds- I’ve dealt with disdain, with people looking at me like I don’t belong to their cool crowd, with hours of unpaid work, with promises that weren’t kept, with possibilities that became impossible, with hopes that became a “never”. But most importantly, I’ve met incredible people. They became my colleagues, they became our contributors, they became friends.
At JDEED, we’ve exposed hundreds of talents that had something special to share. This has all been extremely rewarding and encouraging. When you’re your own boss and the only decision maker, the highs are mountain tops. Lows, on the other hand, will instantly make you reconsider every. single. thing. Never forget why you started something. Whether it’s going to the gym, saving money, started writing a book. If I could give anyone a piece of advice, it would come down to 3 words: Hard Work and Consistency.
But who am I, pep-talking you around, while you didn’t even ask for any of this. Well; My name is Cynthia. I was actually given 4 names at birth. Nouha, Gabrielle and Marie are the other 3. You see, I stepped into this world with a pending identity crisis above my head. Not only related to these 4 names (that always give customs officers a good laugh) but also because my background is as complicated as it gets. I was born in Luxembourg from a Lebanese dad of Cuban origins and a Belgian-Italian mum. Where are you from? They ask. That little question right there would make me and still makes me question my whole existence. Because, really: Where am I from?
Never really sure what to reply to that, what I knew for sure was where I wanted to be, where I wanted to go.
I picked up my first fashion magazine at 11 years old. It was an ELLE Uk with Madonna in a hot pink bodysuit on the cover. I still have it in my library of magazines back in Luxembourg. It was a revelation to say the least. I was dreaming bigger and crazier with every single page I would flip. And just like that, it was going to be fashion for me. At 18, I moved to Paris and started studying fashion design. Once graduated, I went on to do an internship with Jason Wu at Hugo Boss Runway in NYC then back to Paris to assist a blogger and I eventually landed in London to complete a MA in Fashion Journalism at London College of Fashion. During the course of this Master, I slowly started developing what was going to become JDEED. I traveled to Lebanon, the UAE, Bahrain and Oman for “Issue 0”, my school project, but ended up meeting such amazing souls that would all ask me when the magazine would come out that it slowly became an evidence in my mind that, well, it had to come out.
The rest, I will explain it in a second part since I don’t want you to drown in an ocean of information.
While you stay tuned, I’d love to say I’m thankful you’ve read this up until now.
Talk to you soon!
Cover Picture/Dana Hourani shot by Bachar Srour and styled by Cynthia Jreige for JDEED 3.