Phoenicia Finesse: Thrifting With A Cause
Anna Cousins and Nilah Mataffa, co-creators of local thrifting business Phoenicia Finesse, share their story and their companies mission.
Phoenicia Finesse is a locally-based, online thrift store that combines two different goals of the founders: to create a charity aimed at supporting Lebanese women in poverty and to offer the fun, bargain-hunting thrill of thrift-shopping online. Anna Cousins and Nilah Mataffa, co-creators of Phoenicia Finesse, came together to make their dreams a reality.
Nilah Mataffa, Accounting major at Andrews Adventist University
Anna and Nilah met while they were both taking part in a “literature ministries program” last summer. When the two became friends, Nilah shared the desire that she and her sister, Nara, had to help women back home in Lebanon. Anna told Nilah of her idea to make an online thrift store. Once they had confided in what they each wanted to do, the foundation of their shared business venture had begun.
Anna Cousins, Graphic Design and Public Relations Major at SAU
“We all shared the same desire to help people and decided to work together to achieve this goal,” Anna said, “and this was how Phoenicia Finesse was born.”
While they started out reselling thrift products from local sources, Phoenicia Finesse soon began making its own products. Phoenicia Finesse’s products are handcrafted by Anna using locally-sourced fabrics and materials. She makes her products with “what is hot on the market” in mind, like their popular, fluffy tote bags. For now, Anna is crafting Phoenicia Finesse’s products herself, but she hopes that, as the business grows, she can hire employees and increase their output and funding for the charity work happening in Lebanon.
“Hopefully, we will be able to inspire the people around us to use their gifts and talents to help others in need,” Anna said.
Nara Mataffa, Accounting major at MEU University in Beruit, Lebanon
The focus of the charity side of Phoenicia Finesse is to help Lebanese women who live in poverty and are unable to afford feminine hygiene products. As a result, they often “resort to potentially unsafe and unsanitary ways of coping with their periods.” To combat this, Phoenicia Finesse uses the profits from the online thrift store to employ a “Syrian refugee in Lebanon” who makes reusable pads that are distributed to women who need them.
While they are presently working to help these women deal with “period poverty,” Anna and Nilah hope to one day open a women’s shelter in Lebanon providing women in need with “a job and a safe place to live.” Currently, they are organizing a concept for a pitch competition to secure funding to improve their business and, in turn, help more women.