On the summer day of August 4, 2020, the Port of Beirut exploded leaving hundreds of families reeling from the loss of loved ones and more than 300,000 people displaced and without shelter. Caused by the improper storage of a large amount of ammonium nitrate in the capital city of Lebanon, the pain and suffering brought on by this tragedy was compounded by a struggling national economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Amidst this chaos, VV GROW Fellow and Founder and CEO of KristiesLab–a creative event planning and marketing agency based in Beirut, Christina Khater shifted the goals of her organization and tasked her staff with creating One Home at a Time. Using the resources of KristiesLab and the help of volunteers, One Home at a Time repaired and rebuilt homes damaged by the explosion, helping 87 families. Christina says that “the smile on people’s face after being able to help them restore their homes was a glimpse of hope that we should never give up no matter what happens.” KristiesLab also provides financial assistance to the families they have helped.
In the year following the explosion, Christina has started a new initiative, Flip for Beirut, to help heal the hearts of those affected by the explosion. Founded by Kristieslab, Flip for Beirut creates 3D postcards from amazing art to sell and raise funds for families struggling after the explosion and from the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative showcases the work of local and international artists and aims to spread hope and positivity in the face of adversity.
Launched in 2007, Christina’s business- KristiesLab, was founded with a mission to serve local and business communities “focusing on adding value to our clients while enhancing and evolving our own services.” Over the last decade, Kristieslab has kept its mission alive, nurturing talented staff and a teamwork spirit that has allowed them to reach both professional and personal goals. However, like many businesses during the pandemic, Kristieslab had to quickly adjust to the digital space while trying to find solutions for consumer engagement all while dealing with currency devaluation in Lebanon.
In the future, Christina hopes to expand her business across the MENA region and is currently in the process of expanding to Qatar. The switch to remote work was demanding, but Christina adds that it has helped change the perception around work, has brought a more flexible approach to organizations, and provided an opportunity for her organization to further grow. Christina enjoys that one is no longer bound by geography and thus limited in what can be done.
As a VV GROW Fellow, the program gave Christina the confidence and power to never give up. Christina has realized, “that my power comes from within and that I don’t need validation to try to be the change I wanted to see in my community.” Since her participation in the VV GROW program, Christina has continued to grow as a leader and has learned to never give up during difficult times.
Reflecting on her work, Christina adds, “you are born an entrepreneur, you cannot become one.” For Christina, it was a journey of self-reflection that led her to entrepreneurship, adding that it is because she is an entrepreneur that she can create change. This is because “risk takers will find themselves in places no one has ever been before, and only there can you create change.”
Christina’s advice for others is: “Know your driving force. Passion is everything. Know your power. Your power comes from within, stop searching for it out there.”
For more information on Flip for Beirut, click on the link below:
To learn more about Christina and KristiesLab, follow her on social media, or to check out her website, visit these links:
Facebook (business): https://www.facebook.com/kristiesLab
Instagram (personal): https://www.instagram.com/christinakhater/?
LinkedIn (business): https://www.linkedin.com/company/kristieslab/
LinkedIn (personal): https://www.linkedin.com/in/christina-khater-636a0398/
Twitter (business): https://twitter.com/KristiesLab
Twitter (personal): https://twitter.com/christinakhater