An Israeli, a Palestinian, and two retired American businessmen met in a peace zone and started a fashion line. It sounds like the premise of a strange movie, but it’s real: Two Neighbors is a company bringing Israeli and Palestinian creators together to produce a high-quality clothing and accessories line – and peace, hopefully. The American brand capitalises on the talents and drive of Palestinian embroidery artisans from the West Bank and Israeli seamstresses.
“Working together lessens the differences in everything,” said embroiderer Adeem Amro. Amro and Israeli production manager Judy Elazari are two women whose aspirations lined up perfectly with the vision of the two Idaho natives who created Two Neighbors.
In 2013, Andy McCluskey and Whit Jones were retired and wondering how to make a difference. Jones first established a nonprofit to provide a meeting place on the border between Israel and Palestine. He quickly noticed that the visiting women wanted to demonstrate their ability to work together.
“Our way of working together with love and a warm attitude can show the world that it’s very easy to live in peace and make beautiful products together,” commented Elazari.
Today, Two Neighbors has nearly thirty Palestinians and a dozen Israeli seamstresses producing the fashion line. “Women who never had a job before are now earning good wages and able to enrol their children in preschool, get medical care and buy cell phones,” said Tara Sauvage, who joined Two Neighbors in 2017 to introduce the brand to the U.S. market.
The women have formed strong friendships by working side by side, both on the garments and on the specialized training Jones and McCluskey have been providing for them. The duo plan on turning Two Neighbors over to the women one day.
“When I see these women meeting together to plan the next steps in their company’s evolution, communicating in two languages, often with babies sleeping and toddlers running around, it gives me great hope in a future, probably led by women, that grows from the grassroots and eventually incorporates all of us,” said Jones.