Crafting, creating and a sense of community – this is the legacy Lubna Saif Abbas wishes to leave behind. Having known that from an early age, Lubna set to work, specifically utilizing her hands, towards bringing like-minded people together in an environment that fuels creativity. The daughter of makers, Lubna grew up with a sense of pride for everything and anything handmade. “My mother sewed all our clothes,” she explained, “and my father was a carpenter with a reverence for handmade objects.” And because Lubna grew up in the Mid-Western United States, the creative fondly remembers one babysitter in particular: “An Alaskan gal,” she smiled, “and for the life of me, if I can find her, I’d say ‘Thank you!’ because of the imprint she had left on me.”
“Her brother was my dad’s classmate and she was visiting from Alaska,” Lubna went on, “and while babysitting us, she would bring along her knitting and other stuff [I was six at the time]. So she had a National Geographic magazine with her and on the cover there were Native Americans in their beautifully beaded regalia.” Flipping through the issue, Lubna found her babysitter’s tribe featured in the magazine, which sparked a conversation about beads and knitting. “In life, you have a series of teachers and they teach you how to make things by either watching or doing – like an apprentice. She was around me for a year and in that year, she really had an impact on me,” Lubna smiled. But it wasn’t until she sat and watched a group of Native American women beading that this creative felt a spark light up in her.
Between her parents, babysitter and the beautiful works of the Native American women, Lubna found her calling. Earning a degree in graphic design and art history, Lubna was able to focus on both technique and craft which leads us to modern day: The creation of Yadawi. With the help of angel Investors, a retail brick and mortar location was set up as LB o J’zazz to supply crafters with the supplies they needed and sign up for workshops – all under the umbrella of Yadawi. Soon enough, LB o J’zazz shifted to an online presence and Yadawi came to life in Lubna’s basement.
Also a part of a group known as ‘Legalize Kuwait,’ Lubna is an avid advocate for legalizing home-based businesses. “Kuwait was built on neighborhood craft zones and people creating items right outside their homes,” Lubna added. With the strong movement and growth that we are witnessing within the arts and crafts community throughout Kuwait, Lubna is inspired daily by the amount of emerging talent, which fuels her work towards making Yadawi a hub for creation and creativity.
Harnessing that inspiration and collaborating with the creative community has helped Lubna connect with so many likeminded people. From Chef Mimi, the Shakshooka Market gang and the Secret Garden project to the creatives that exhibit their work through Yadawi, Lubna’s network is forever growing. The beauty of this community is in their unity and perseverance. When the Secret Garden was destroyed, the community got together to rebuild it and continue to spread the idea of an urban garden. And as people continue to ask why the Secret Garden isn’t expanding to other areas, Lubna’s response is simple: “We don’t want to make it bigger, we’d ideally like to see more people starting initiatives like this in their own areas and communities.”
Between her engagement in the organically growing creative community and her workshops at Yadawi, Lubna is also helping people find their creative side [no matter their background] and put it to good use. Exhibitions and open-houses are held at times to showcase the wonderful creations that come out of the Yadawi Collective. Lubna even supports the local talents, such as renowned local artist Fareed Abdal, by exhibiting their pieces in the workshop’s retail space for people to purchase. While she gives back to the community she holds dear, we got Lubna to take a couple of minutes and sit through our lighthearted questionnaire in this month’s ‘up close and personal’ feature.
Up close and personal questionnaire
What do you most value in your friends?
Authenticity, a great sense of humor and a passion for ideas.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Experiencing a whole range of emotions enables one to possess an innate sense of well-being. They are moments that add up. I’m happy when I’m dancing, goofing off and being silly, when I’m creating, having a coffee in solitude. Moments to relish and savor.
What is your greatest fear?
Fear is not an emotion I feed into – however, what motivated me the most was back in 2014 and 2015 when my late beloved mother Lady Z was not diagnosed with her condition properly here in Kuwait and she asked me to make sure I got her to NYC Presbyterian and to the US. We could not afford this kind of quality care on our own. I promised her – it was one of the most challenging ordeals to accomplish. I feared she would collapse before getting her there. We were able to do so. My mother got the diagnosis three weeks before succumbing to respiratory complications due to ALS. After that, there is not much fear…I lost my best friend and companion.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Deplore is quite a strong term. There is nothing I deplore in myself actually.
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
Arrogance, bullying and people who feel they are superior to others. In addition to a lack of compassion and grace.
Which living person do you most admire?
My brother Ali, he is one of my greatest teachers.
What is your greatest extravagance?
My passion for life.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
Brilliant, wonderful, beautiful, breathtaking, stunning and presence.
What is it that you most dislike?
War and greed.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To know how to fly a glider.
If you could have any job, what would it be?
The one I have now – it is not a job; it is my life calling.
What would you consider your greatest achievement?
What is your most treasured possession?
I possess nothing – papers and pens to express myself would be cherished.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My tenacious passion about living a life authentically and to the fullest and sharing that with people.
Where would you most like to live?
I’m good where I am now. However, Ouled Hamou, Morocco with one of my dearest friends Nazik on the Permaculture project she is working on isn’t a bad idea.
What are your favorite words to live by?
Live and let live.
Join Yadawi for a fun workshop and discover your artistic side today! Follow them on Facebook: Yadawi Kuwait and Instagram @Yadawi for more information. If you’re simply looking for supplies, check out lbojzazz.com.
Photography by Yousef Al Nasser.