That's the idea behind Two Neighbors, a new fashion brand that is inseparable from its mission: to promote collaboration, capitalism, and ultimately peace, between Israelis and Palestinians.
A Two Neighbors retail store opened doors at its Girard Avenue location in March. It is the company's first store in the United States, said Tara Sauvage, who heads production, marketing, and sales. According to her, La Jolla was chosen partly because of "its strong Jewish community and international visitors."
For purchase in the Two Neighbors store is an array of fashionable garments produced jointly by Palestinians and Israelis through a women's co-op. The modern garments, which feature elements of ancient Palestinian embroidery, are designed by Palestinians, made in Israel, and sold in America through its Girard Avenue store.
"Our best sellers are the Adeem leather tote bag in leather with a Palestinian embroidery strap," said Sauvage. "We also sell a lot of jackets, sundresses, and embroidery clutch bags."
Customers receive a special brochure that explains the Two Neighbors' vision for peace in the Middle East.
On its website, Two Neighbors is described as a fair trade producer of textile goods that enables women of limited means "to carry on ancient traditions while earning a fair wage for their work."
"The business model is set up to support the women in the Palestinian region and in Israel," said Sauvage. All proceeds from sales of merchandise are reinvested in the women's co-op.
What makes Two Neighbors compelling is that it's not driven by pie-in-the-sky idealists but by seasoned, practical business people who want to do good.
Two Neighbors is the brainchild of Whit Jones and Andy McCluskey, two life-long friends from Idaho with a penchant for tackling global issues.
Their first meeting was held at a small border town between Israel and the Palestinian territories — one of the few places where Israelis and Palestinians are free to meet on equal ground. This is where the concept for Two Neighbors was hatched.
The founders knew pulling it off would be no easy feat. As their website puts it, they were embarking on "an against-the-odds business partnership that defies politics in favor of beauty, common sense, and shared economic benefit."
Jones and his wife Paula have since stepped back, allowing a small team of women to run the day-to-day operations.
At the end of the day, Two Neighbors is about creating products that embody and integrate two very different cultures. This socially conscious fashion brand is empowering women while paving a pathway toward peace.
It's about co-creation and, ultimately, coexistence.
Two Neighbors is located at 7863 Girard Ave., Suite 106. For more information or to shop online, visit twoneighbors.com.