In conversation with Mariam Issa

Interview with Mariam Issa by Sarah Yusuf

Mariam Issa is not only a remarkable person and infectiously positive person but also a great mother of five. Despite her being my mother, I still didn’t really know much about her involvement with
space 2b and got the opportunity to really talk to her about it in an entirely unbiased way.

Mariam began Space2b with Janine; Space2b is one of the most profound projects she has been a part of. I sat down with her and went into depth about why this was.

SARAH: Hi, i’m Sarah Yusuf and here with me today is Mariam Issa, Space2B’s Ambassador. So, How did you get involved with Space2b?

MARIAM: Well, I started the space2b with Janine, It was all her idea, she came to me and asked if I could be a part of this dream she had.

SARAH: Awesome, So how has space 2b impacted your journey?

MARIAM: … I think it gives me a sense of doing something that I am proud of and …. Also it’s given me an insight into the art and design industry. While I love beautiful clothes I’ve never really had a chance to witness the behind the scenes creative process or the wonderful people who make them, so being a part of the creative process of art and design has added to my value of life and beauty.

SARAH: Yeah that’s cool, so where do you see Space 2b in 5 years?

MARIAM: Well, I see The Space2b in 5 years to be …. established, independent and sustainable and by independent I mean financially, so independent from grants because we seek grants, we seek other peoples help, so most of the work we do and most of the people working are volunteer based, and that sort of … handicaps us. The way I see the shop going and the direction its heading, I see it being a very sustainable organisation where good, beautiful works of art are sold.

SARAH: Okay that’s great, so where do you and Janine find designers and artists for the store?

MARIAM: Well, we will work with migrant and refugee women; um … we find them through networks of referral, word of mouth and the mainstream artists and designers are people Janine usually knows since she is a designer herself. The designs and art is Janine’s territory, she incorporates anything that she might like from a designer perspective but with recruiting … we just do it together through people we know and our own separate contacts.

SARAH: Having already had so much on your plate with different projects, what made Space2b special/different? What was your vision for it?

MARIAM: My vision for it to begin was … I loved the idea of connecting people, especially women, I mean Space2b is not just for women but we work predominantly with women and my connection with the idea is the fact that I love entrepreneurship and I love the fact that this is an autonomy where women can be given a chance, to be able to make their own things and make money from that. Also that part of training, to train the women to achieve and grow in confidence, being able to use the shop as a place where they can feel a part of the community despite it sometimes being a strange new place for some of them. I think that comes from my own background and my own integration story, I feel like had I had a space like Space2b I would have progressed much faster.