Marisa Nuñez, Marisa Hair, Long Island City, NY

Nadira El Khang

Nadira Bag

New York, New York

“I look forward to growing with Ascendus as I look to invest more in my business.” –Nadira El Khang

I grew up in Marrakesh, Morocco. Where I come from, men are the face of business. Women play a supporting role. The men run almost all aspects of the business. They work at the markets while the women work from home. I was fortunate to have a father who supported my entrepreneurial dreams. He knew I wanted to own my OWN business, to assert MY independence. And he encouraged me to break out of the mold.

With my father’s support and sponsorship, I moved to the U.S. in April 2009 to experience a new life and get an education. I am currently an accounting major at LaGuardia Community College.

I still feel connected to my Moroccan heritage and wanted to express it through my love of designing and making my handcrafted bags. That’s why I decided to start my own leather-making business. To afford the costs in the beginning, I took out a tuition loan with SallieMae and invested any extra money in the tools and materials to start making leather goods. I began by making pieces for my friends to celebrate their birthdays, gradations and holidays.

My brother comes to visit me a few times a year. During his most recent visit, I gave him my bags to sell at the flea market in Williamsburg and at Chelsea Market. EVERY SINGLE ONE SOLD. That’s when I realized I had something SPECIAL. I wanted to grow in a bigger way. My next step was to set up my Etsy store. Since then, I have sold over 134 handmade bags all over the world!

I am now ready to expand NadiraBag again. I have been granted studio space at the NYDesign entrepreneur space at LaGuardia Community College. I will have the creative space I need to expand my production. And I look forward to growing with Ascendus as I look to invest more in my business.

My business has given me a sense of self-worth and an ability to express my Moroccan culture every day. Most importantly, it’s enabled me to be financially independent. Now, every night when I talk to my father, he goes to bed knowing I can take care of myself.

One day, I want to hire women in New York City to help me produce my bags. There are so many talented women who want to work but who are unable to get jobs. The barriers for these women can be high because of household obligations and cultural restrictions. They can’t speak English and don’t have degrees. But, these women enjoy doing hand-craft work and deserve a chance to earn an income. I want to give these women the opportunities that my dad gave me. I want them to experience self-reliance by being a part of NadiraBag.

Where I come from, men are the face of business, and women play a supporting role. I’m proud to stand here in front of you today as the face of NadiraBag. My father is no longer the ONLY successful entrepreneur in our family.

Nadira is the proud owner of Nadira Bag, a leather goods business. Through her business she preserves her Moroccan culture and keeps her family’s entrepreneurial spirit alive. This is the transcript of a speech she gave at our Access to Opportunity Luncheon in 2014, where we honored her with the Award for Integrity.

Nadira believes in a life enriched by education and self-reliance. So does Ascendus. And we are pleased to support Nadira in growing a business so that she can live out these beliefs. For more stories like Nadira’s, sign up for our newsletter.

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