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“A business started with love can’t fail”: Nara Stepanyan

19-year-old Nara Stepanyan has been making carpets for five years. She made her hobby a source of income. Nara lives in the village of Aghavnavank, Tavush region and imagines her future life in the village. Through her activities, she intends to develop her village.

Favorite hobby as a source of income

Nara says she suddenly had the idea that she could turn her hobby into a business and generate income from it: “In the beginning, I sewed carpets simply because I loved them. Once I showed it to my teacher and she offered to sell my work. It was only then that I realized that I could make money with my hobby. I had never thought about it before, ”she says.

According to Nara, when their village began to arouse interest among tourists, she decided to set up a small table in the area of the monastery and start selling her works.

As Nara says, despite the difficulties, if something is done with love, it will succeed: “I think if I do it with great love and strengthen my skills, I will achieve the desired result. A job started with love cannot fail, you just have to be persistent and do what no one else does,” she says.

Cooperation with the Women’s Fund Armenia

Nara mentions that she has long intended to have a small house, where she will work on carpets, as well as conduct theoretical and practical courses for those who are interested in it.

“When locals and tourists became interested in my work, I decided to expand my table or build a roof to protect it from the rain. During that time, my cousin sent me a call from the Fund that it was providing financial support to teenage girls. I applied, but I did not think they would select me,” says Nara with a smile.

According to the young carpet weaver, in addition to financial support, the Fund helped her in many other ways. “Cooperation and communication with the Fund have become a source of motivation for me. WFA helped me to see and think wider, not limit myself to what I have. The Fund also helped me to dream big” she says.

Favorite hobby as a way to activate rural life

Nara has far-reaching goals to activate life in her village through her hobby and make it a favorite, useful place for tourists: “There is a church in our village, everyone comes here for the church, but I would also like people to come, for example, to make a carpet in my small house. In other villages too people have to do what others don’t. We have to do things that no one else has done,” she says.

Nara is thinking about adding a social component to her work. “I’m sure I will do more in the future. Now I am studying decorative applied arts at YSU Ijevan branch, and at the same time I am taking business classes to develop my skills, so that in the future I can develop and grow my business, which may help to create new jobs in our village,” she says.

Challenges of the inner and outer world

“I am an introverted person, I often avoid meeting new people. I think it bothers me a lot, both in my work and in my daily life. But I have decided that I must go out of my comfort zone. Now I have registered for business courses,” she says.

According to Nara, she had many difficulties during the program. The construction of the house was delayed due to external circumstances. “When we started building the house, the war started. Then many relatives died, and until recently we learned about new names. It’s difficult to deal with this at the same time,” Nara says.

Nara’s family helps her build the house. In 2022, it will open its doors to visitors.

According to Nara, society often looks at her work with contempt. “There are people who do not feel normal about the fact that I can stand somewhere outside and sell my work. They will not do such a thing, they think, that they are higher than that. No matter how much you ignore those opinions, they still affect you. But in any case, I do not allow them to rule me. Every time I come home and think, “No, that’s my job, I’ve made a job for myself and I’m very happy,” Nara says. 

Now Nara’s dream is to travel, both in Armenia and abroad. She wants to discover new worlds, cultures, and at the same time show the world Armenian culture through the carpets that she weaves.

Interview by Yelena Sargsyan