Vogue by Christine Van Deemter – June 16, 2020
Defiant, hopeful, resourceful – meet the movers and shakers of Lebanon.
Bokja : Huda Baroudi And Maria Hibri
Huda Baroudi and Maria Hibri founded Bokja as a space where luxury and craftsmanship can come together in exquisite textiles, furniture, art, and design – and now, they’re sharing that spirit by creating reversible silk face masks. At first, they donated the masks to frontline warriors in Beirut but due to popular demand, Bokja now also sells the masks, with proceeds being donated to medical centers and NGOs. “We’ve been doing this work for 20 years and it’s part of our temperament and ethos to always contribute in one way or another,” Hibri explains about the genesis of the project. “When we saw the scale of things in the first week that the virus hit… We were so shocked by the conditions the frontline workers are forced to work in. It gave us the oomph to start rolling up our sleeves.”
Each mask is unique and buyers don’t get to choose which one they like – “It’s like those chocolate eggs with the surprise inside!” Baroudi smiles – and is crafted by hand in their Beirut atelier. “Even though we’ve created more than a thousand masks, we take a moment to make sure each one is special. The smile is the most beautiful thing in the face and now since you can’t see someone’s smile, our masks put a smile on your face,” Hibri shares. The cheerful fabrics add “a dash of color and hope” the pair says, “happiness and safety together.”
Yet they don’t want the pandemic to distract attention from the revolution and their true wish for their country – an end to corruption, and government transparency. “I wish that during this time, we can become stronger and wiser,” Baroudi says. “It might be a far-fetched dream, but without a dream, nothing can be accomplished,” Hibri concurs.