It hurts to jot down this. As I sit in my lounge in Los Angeles, residence to the most important inhabitants of Armenians outdoors of Armenia, 120,000 indigenous Armenians are being displaced from the place they’ve referred to as residence for hundreds of years. Artsakh, in any other case generally known as the area of Nagorno-Karabakh, simply skilled one of many greatest losses over the past 40 days in opposition to Azerbaijan and Turkey. A peace deal was signed, and unexpectedly, a majority of the area that belonged to Armenia has now been given away.
The ache among the many Armenian neighborhood is palpable. As our hearts collectively break, I flip to my friends within the trend and wonder trade, who I’ve been impressed by over the course of the final two months, to provide me energy. As lots of you could remember or not, Armenians have been making a splash on the earth of magnificence and trend, and plenty of have gone on to start out their very own firms. coated this story on its community. I am additionally working with an Armenian jewellery model, Kirk Kara. The proceeds can be going to Armenia Fund, legitimate by means of November 30.
And at last, I am planning one other IG Stay fundraiser with Armenian Wounded Heroes, which is a nonprofit group that funds the rehabilitation of wounded troopers.
I really like how you will have been concerned with a number of manufacturers and organizations to hitch forces and lift cash for Armenia Fund. Are you able to inform us a little bit bit about what you’ve been engaged on?
I by no means hesitate to get entangled in serving to Armenia, despite the fact that it may be irritating being so distant. Watching my homeland cope with financial collapse and COVID-19, I knew I needed to do extra throughout this pandemic. Armenia has survived a genocide and is at the moment coping with Artsakh, a area of ethnic-majority Armenians, probably being stripped of its sovereignty. With this cataclysmic assortment of occasions occurring proper now in Armenia, it’s so essential to get the phrase out to mainstream information sources. Most individuals usually are not conversant in what’s going on, because the conflicts and historical past of Armenia and its persons are huge and complex. So when my pricey good friend Olivia Jamgotchian reached out and requested if I might turn into a founding board member and advisor for Armenia Support Fund, I, in fact, didn’t hesitate to get entangled. ASF was based on the premise of serving to Armenians stimulate the Armenian economic system with grants to bolster small companies in Armenia. We consider in encouraging companies to make enterprising long-term selections—empowering them to succeed by means of selling sustainable enterprise fashions and infrastructure. To this point, now we have awarded 45 grants to small companies, however the work will not be completed. We proceed to boost funds to make extra reduction accessible for a lot of enterprise homeowners in Armenia.
ASF’s newest endeavor, Shop Shouga, is a digital bazaar that mirrors the open-air markets of Armenia to assist native designers and producers. The aim is to assist Armenians promote their wares and for Armenians and non-Armenians alike to expertise Armenia from the consolation of their very own properties. This can be beneath the umbrella of ASF. Every time a purchase order is made, a contribution will go to the small companies in want of capital to develop their alternatives.
One other challenge, a collaboration between myself and Omnes All (bought on ShopStyleguise), was designed to mix trend and giving again as a result of, What’s the level of creation with out discovering a option to move alongside a few of that luck? A bracelet, with the colours of the Armenian flag, tells the story of my previous, current, and future. Armenia is intricately part of me, and what an ideal option to present that with a fragile bracelet holding the hues of all that’s Armenia. Additionally on Styleguise was the Honey collection, a set of a masks, scrunchie, and scarf, all in a wonderful, wealthy gold, comprised of 100% deadstock cloth. The Armenia Fund obtained 50% of the proceeds for humanitarian efforts in Armenia.
One other ardour of mine is Armenian espresso. It’s one of many issues I tout as finest from the place I’m from, so the collab with Henry’s Coffee, creating the ASF mix, was a match made in heaven. Espresso is the last word equalizer, and it brings folks collectively, irrespective of the place they hail from. All international locations have their very own particular mix. This mix was particularly for this collaboration, and 100% of the proceeds went to ASF. We additionally created a Homeland Tote, a bag designed to hold a little bit piece of Armenia with you, wherever you could find yourself. The bag’s proceeds had been divided amongst ASF (40%) and Armenia Fund (60%) and Kooyrigs (60%) and ASF (40%) on our second spherical, all helping Armenians in creating a greater Armenia for future generations. With all these collaborations mixed, now we have raised near 80ok for Armenia!
How has your platform helped you amplify Armenian’s voices?
For us, as kids of the Armenian diaspora, we all know the significance of “always remember.” We had been raised on it and raised on the tales of the Armenian Genocide. We had been advised of our accountability to ensure one thing like that by no means occurs once more. The accountability is the place my ardour comes from and is why I attempt to use my platform to teach in regards to the turmoil Armenia faces. My aim is to make Armenian tradition accessible and to highlight the struggles within the Armenian neighborhood and in Armenia itself.
I’m at all times so thrilled when somebody reaches out saying that they discovered about what’s occurring in Armenia from me or in the event that they tried Armenian espresso for the primary time based mostly on a suggestion I had made. I really like to indicate the attractive issues that Armenia is whereas additionally displaying the upheaval within the nation. As a result of if folks can resonate with a tradition, they’ll care in regards to the struggling of its folks. Empathy comes after familiarity. How are you going to care about one thing you realize nothing about?
Proper now, with the whole lot occurring in Armenia and on the earth, I’m merely calling for peace, for kindness, and for endurance. For taking the time to know the place another person is coming from. It’s exhausting generally to not get annoyed or indignant watching Armenia in ache whereas I’m so distant, however I attempt to use that emotion to assist, as gasoline for my fireplace.
Solely time will inform what’s going to occur in Armenia. Issues appear to vary by the minute. However what I do know is that I’ll proceed to talk for Armenia in any approach that I can. Armenians can’t and won’t be silenced. It’s in opposition to the whole lot that we’re as a folks. We merely can’t neglect.
As a diasporan Black Armenian, are you able to please clarify the way you’ve been utilizing your voice and your platform to carry consciousness to each causes?
As a Black Armenian girl, I’ve at all times felt it was my responsibility to honor my ancestors and neighborhood by means of my voice and presents. As an activist, I’ve participated in protests and “die-ins” for Black lives and marched for Artsakh and genocide recognition. I’ve additionally labored throughout the system by means of using constituent letters and advocating for native funds justice from L.A. Metropolis Council and the Board of Supervisors. Over the previous six months, I’ve additionally used my social media platform to mobilize all of my communities in assist of Armenians and Black lives along with different actions for the indigenous, incarcerated, and undocumented. As an artist, I select to middle marginalized narratives by means of my writing. This sparks empathy and results in crucial unlearning and essential conversations. My presence in theater and movie as an actress in and of itself is radical as a result of illustration is crucial.
Is there an outlet or exercise you’ve been turning to this final 12 months for self-care you can share with the Who What Put on viewers?
I’m not going to lie—I preach self-care and am fairly atrocious at taking my very own recommendation. That being stated, I’ve discovered consolation in unplugging for moments all through the day and doing one thing mundane like rewatching the unique Twilight Zone, listening to ASMR in a darkish room, or sharing area with family members. I discover that writing additionally helps me course of and launch trauma that may weigh on my spirit. As a theater arts educator, I additionally acknowledge the significance of breath and listening to your physique. A pleasant deep breath could seem fundamental, however simply that second of pause can assist maintain you till you’ll be able to put aside ample time to care to your physique.
How are you supporting different Armenian girls proper now, and why do you assume it’s crucial to boost consciousness about what’s occurring in Artsakh?
Prior to now 5 weeks, we’ve discovered the exhausting approach that we solely have one another to depend on. No different nation has come to our assist, so it’s clear that the diaspora is solely answerable for the longer term and safety of Artsakh and Armenia. For that motive alone, I’ve been centered on supporting particularly my Armenian friends within the magnificence and life-style area, each publicly and behind closed doorways. Right now, all of us appear to have a renewed objective shifting ahead, and this mutual assist will proceed.
How has the Armenian magnificence neighborhood been coming collectively within the final 40 days to assist, and what fundraisers have you ever been concerned in?
I’ll inform you one factor: When Armenian girls arrange, be careful! We naturally discovered that every of us has a special energy—a few of us are stronger at elevating cash. Others of us, together with myself, are combatting misinformation with correct materials that helps those that aren’t conversant in the scenario perceive what is going on. I’ve been in a position to provide assist in dwell fundraisers led by my friends who’re fairly actually fundraising machines, totaling upward of $500,000. And we don’t cease right here; there’s a lot to be completed, having discovered how vastly our unity is required for our future as a folks.