2018年04月16日

Lahum is Abu Dhabi's newest thrift

The idea had been at the back of Ameera Amir’s mind for some time: to open a thrift shop and use its proceeds to fund scholarships for children from lower-income families.


It picked up momentum, however, during early discussions about the Year of Zayed. This is apt, given the Founding Father’s commitment to principles such as education and sustainability, and respect for all mankind – values that Amir has also dedicated her working life to. Nonetheless, when she soft-launched Lahum at Abu Dhabi’s Masdar Park in January, Amir wasn’t sure whether one key part of her plan would work.


“I didn’t think really anyone would buy, because it’s a new concept,” she says. “People are used to donating clothes and those clothes going to people in need, but the concept of reselling in a thrift store?”


In the first of a series of happy surprises for Lahum, which means “for them” and refers to children, Abu Dhabi’s community has been buying away. This includes an Alexander McQueen wedding dress, sold for Dh200 to a woman who claimed she was acquiring it for a friend. When she returned to re-donate the dress, she confessed it was for her own wedding. Another woman, a lawyer, picked up several abayas to wear on a business trip to Saudi Arabia, says Amir. “She said: ‘You know, I’d hate for me as a mother not to have enough funds for my child to go to school, so I’m more than happy to support this,’” recalls Amir.


That was another adjustment Amir had to make to her expectations for the concept: she initially imagined that Lahum would appeal to and should target lower-income members of the community. “I realised that no, people are passionate about the cause.”


Amir dreams of going on to establish Lahum stores across the UAE, and hopes to create the kind of brand recognition enjoyed by similar concepts in other countries, such as Canada’s Value Village, but with a more far-reaching impact on the community.


She pays the administration costs and salaries of her two full-time employees herself, so all funds can go towards the scholarships, and she has partnered with the Abu Dhabi Education Council in low-income communities to identify children in need. In the three months since Lahum launched – the official opening is this week – the shop has already raised enough to cover at least three scholarships.


Amir’s passion for education also reflects her own feelings about Sheikh Zayed, who paid families in a newly formed UAE to send their children to school. “I made it a point to get the highest level of education myself,” she says.


“I wanted to learn so I could always do things better.” With a master’s in international affairs and sustainable economic development from Columbia University in New York, she runs her father’s business conglomerate in the private sector, holds advisory roles in the Abu Dhabi government, sits on several boards and runs a number of private businesses. Lahum’s model also reflects Amir’s passion for social enterprise over charity. One of her other initiatives, Weyakum, helps young people in the UAE realise their educational and professional aspirations. It has been recognised with an Impact of Youth Development award.


And then there is the dedication to sustainability, which is seen in every aspect of Lahum. Located in four shipping containers designed to look like an open cardboard box, it is decorated inside with recycled tyres, upcycled oil barrels, a giant sign made from old Spinney’s cartons and trendy-looking price tags fashioned from cereal boxes.Read more at:QueenieAu | formal wear brisbane




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