I grew up in Lebanon. The 'autocar', the 'snoubar', the smell of jasmine in summer and that of 'castana' in winter… All that is in my DNA :) But after a few years of working there, I felt the need to experience new things, discover different cultures. So I left the country, lived in China and in the US, and then settled in France. But my roots always remained in Lebanon.
My love story with Lebanon: In 2012, I co-wrote the book Losing touch about the disappearing Lebanese trades, that depicted the lives of the fascinating yet humble trade workers of Beirut. The benefits of the sales were given to AEP, a Lebanese microcredit organization.The success of this experience was yet another proof of how much power the Lebanese can draw from their love of the country.
Since I left, I have been a Marketer, a Consultant in Innovation, and a Trainer in Design Thinking. Being surrounded by so much creativity and so many entrepreneurs, I thought: Why not create something creative that would turn all this energy I have, into value for the country?
And so Koullouna was born! A way to pay tribute to all those who are doing amazing things there and to give an easy way for those who left to contribute.
It started with an idea, then a homemade test sent to a few friends, and little by little it grew into this crazy startup that actually has an impact! Along the way, Joseph and Pascale joined this adventure and it made it SO much better. Today, I’m in charge of the strategy, the product and the relationship with suppliers. Oh, and all the fun admin and legal stuff (yay!). The three of us share the same values and have a burning desire to make things happen, in the most fun way possible :)
‘Home isn’t a place, it’s a feeling’ - Cecelia Ahearne
After living/ traveling in different parts of the world, the quote above pretty much sums it up for me.
It all started when I was 21: I left Lebanon to study in Paris. I then moved to London and Dubai, working in B2B marketing for a tech company. Travelling was always something that I wanted to do, and so that’s what I did next: I went from India through South-East Asia, ending in Singapore, climbing volcanoes, diving with manta rays and doing yoga.
My relationship with Lebanon has been through ups and downs. When I first left, I was missing home and was eager to go back every summer. I was convinced it was the best country in the world - despite all its flaws. That slowly started to change as I was traveling, and I started to think maybe Lebanon wasn’t the best country out there. Sure it has beautiful mountains but the Alps are pretty amazing!
Marielle and I have been friends since high school and when she launched Koullouna, I remember thinking ‘I’m exactly the target audience for this product’ - just what any marketer would say :) And so I asked Marielle if she needed help and that’s how it started. My main focus is B2C marketing and sales - my guilty pleasure is creating google docs and reorganizing our drive!
What I love about Koullouna is that it has re-connected me with my country. Through Koullouna, I’ve discovered new producers, stories and a whole ecosystem that I had no idea existed in Lebanon. Koullouna made me fall in love with Lebanon all over again. If a box can do that to me, I’m sure it can do the same to other Lebanon-lovers out there.
I was 17 when I left Lebanon, right after high school, to pursue my studies in France. Having always been very curious, I went on to visit Europe, then South America where I lived for six months and wrapped it with a long visit to South East Asia. Lebanon has always been a necessary layover in between.
Throughout these years, I kept a strong relation with Lebanon through the many local diaspora associations in which I was engaged: in my university, in Paris, in Chile, and worldwide. The further I physically got from Lebanon, the more I realized how much its roots were deep within me. I had to concretize this passion/ yearn.
This is where I met Marielle, during an event for Lebanese Entrepreneurs in Paris (how could I’ve missed such an event?). She told me that she was looking for someone to help her in logistics and IT, it was as if she knew that this was my field. This was made for me!
Today it’s more real than ever. Koullouna is not only a website, or a subscription box, or the amazing team we have, Koullouna is literally all of us!