“Elevate Your Voice” Entrepreneur Spotlight: Sarah Elmoussawi

This article is part of a 12-part profile series that seeks to capture the thoughts and ideas of entrepreneurs in Inkster, Dearborn/Dearborn Heights, Ecorse, and River Rouge. This series is made possible through the New Economy Initiative’s “Elevate Your Voice” campaign, designed to help inform entrepreneurship support, and amplify authentic voices in the small business ecosystem. This profile features Sarah Elmoussawi, owner of Loujain Accessories, based in Dearborn, Michigan. 
Can you share a little bit about your business?

Loujain Accessories was established in April 2019. We offer handmade, gold-plated jewelry made to order. We also offer personalization options. Our pieces are handcrafted by talented Lebanese artisans we thoughtfully sought to partner with to help us bring our customer’s vision to life, while also supporting their work and the economy of my home country. The brand is exclusive to the Arabic professional woman, who can see their culture and religious beliefs in our custom offerings. 

What would you say inspired you to plant business roots in the Dearborn community? 

I was born and raised in Baalbek, Lebanon. And then I worked in Dubai, UAE, for eight years. After I got married, I moved to the United States. Lebanon is full of heritage, as well as Dubai, and Arabic calligraphy is very known there. When I came to Dearborn, I couldn't find anything related to Arabic jewelry so I decided to start my business because there is a large community of Arabs and Muslims in the area, but there aren’t a lot of businesses that create jewelry that can express their love for their heritage, their religion, their preferred styles. After I started my business, the Lebanon economic crash happened, so I wanted to find a way to help support my community back home. From there, I sought out skilled Lebanese artisans who could assist with producing the custom jewelry I wanted to offer my customers. Thanks to God, I was able to find and connect with them, and they have been helping me with the mission of my brand. 

How have you been able to find or access capital needed for your business? 

The capital to start my business came from my personal savings, and now I am able to use the revenue from sales as the capital I need for my business. 

What are your current business goals?

Our business goals are to increase our sales, reach more markets and more customers. We are currently serving customers in the US and Canada, but I want to expand to Europe and the Middle East. I also want to bring attention to handmade jewelry, and drive the name of Loujain to be an international brand. Thanks to God, it's grown into a brand name, but I want to be like Dior or Chanel, but as an Arabic brand well-known for our jewelry. 

What would you say are some resources you need to achieve those goals?
Capital for sure will help reach our goals. And a space, so we can open a storefront to reach new customers and new markets. We also want to increase awareness of our jewelry and our brand by doing more events and marketing. I currently work in a small space, just a room where I can ship my items and take pictures. 

If someone came to you and gave you the best resource guidance for your business goals, what would support from that resource look like for you?

Capital and more advertising to help us grow. Also, more publicity and doing more events will help Loujain grow. We currently go to events such as summer markets, pop-ups and festivals around the State of Michigan. Last year, I traveled to Houston and Ohio for a couple of festivals. In the US, there are only a few businesses that offer similar jewelry of the same handmade quality with Arabic calligraphy, so I often get invitations to participate in different events, but some I have to turn down because I am a mother of one child, and I can’t be away every day. 

Fill in the blank: ____ has been a really good resource for me. Please share how or why. 

Ayesha from ACCESS (Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services) has really helped me. She was a good resource for me because she opened up unknown doors by introducing us to more markets and more events. And with the classes they offered, she helped us grow our mindset of entrepreneurship.

What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in starting, growing, or sustaining your business? 

I would say being a woman entrepreneur is a big challenge because the Arab-American community doesn’t believe that a woman can reach a certain level in business, and she can't be an entrepreneur, so they don't support women-based businesses like they would if a man opened a business. I would also say funding.

If you met a new business owner in the community, what is the first resource you would recommend connecting them with to help them succeed within your city? Who would you connect them with outside of your city?

ACCESS for sure. That's what I do, actually. Anytime I meet a new businesswoman or even a man who is a small business owner, I connect them to Ayesha or to ACCESS to get the support they need. The small businesses need the support, and they don't know where to start and what's the next step. So ACCESS is doing a good job, and they are helping us a lot.

What would you say is a shared issue, concern or challenge among the entrepreneurs and small businesses in your community?

Access to capital like loans with lower interest rates, more publicity, and more events that support small businesses. That’s what they need. That's what I hear all the time. Especially with the economy right now. Just today, someone was asking me, “What's next, what we should do? We're not getting sales.” If there are more events or markets or capital, this is what they need so they can support themselves. 
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