Tatev Sayadyan
I feel like I have lived three lives: first, in Armenia before heading to the States, then there for 16 years, and now, back in Armenia

''For 16 years, I have lived in Glendale. I have always wanted to come back, but once you become engrossed in your work and career, it is tough to leave all that behind. I am a textile designer. I started in Armenia, Yerevan, to be exact. But when the Soviet Union collapsed, so did the textile industry. For 16 years, I worked in the US for different textile converters, loving every aspect of my work. The challenge had disappeared, however, along with the creativity in the more robotic lifestyle. I began picking up side gigs, but nothing special due to time constraints. I had mentioned moving back to Armenia so many times at this point that no one believed me anymore. It was a few months after having my child that, when looking out the window at the local school, I decided that no, my child will grow up in Armenia. She was born in 2013, and we moved back together in 2014. I had major dreams, romantic ideas really, of taking part in the resurgence of the textile industry. Now, after the Velvet Revolution, I am hopeful once more about its rebirth. I have my own brand where I design the textiles that are then turned into clothing of all types.

Back in America, I never felt like I’m home. It always felt like a temporary arrangement, even if I was a citizen. I feel like I have lived three lives: first, in Armenia before heading to the States, then there for 16 years, and now, back in Armenia''. 
Tatevik Sayadyan
What changes have you noticed in the 16 years you were away?
Even before the revolution, the  progress was evident in the period of my absence from Armenia. And compared to my childhood. Physical objects, stores, fields of work have certainly progressed. The change that needs to occur, however, is in people’s mentality. In particular, issues concerning women, minorities, etc., should be addressed. I feel that people are always afraid of all that which they are unfamiliar with. We are  generally conservative and are not so inclined to change until  we have had enough. I think this is  a national trait, we tend to adapt to situations and circumstances. I lived in the United States for quite a long time, always wishing to move back, but did not make the actual move until I no longer could take it. Same with the people of Armenia enduring so much for  almost 30 years, but fearing any change, and when the knife got to the bone as we say, Velvet revolution happened. Mentalities, in general, need to evolve. Why would it be acceptable to litter on the streets of Yerevan but not in Glendale? Most of us are confused here by the concept of stepping outside and cleaning up what another has thrown on the streets of our city. While  standing in line, someone will cut in front of a person waiting.

We should be more respectful towards each others’  privacy. I try doing it myself, respecting my 6-year-old daughter’s privacy  and hopefully teaching her to do the same. There are many fields that need changes, fortunately the process has started already. The political system is changing, there are evident changes in the economy, social perception for certain things. For example women’s issues in the country.  I’m glad that we see women crashing the stereotypes that they have been  molded into. I am proud to know women who fight for the rights of voiceless, the women who are entrepreneurs and leaders in their own right. I am happy to see more women in parliament, in government. I know they will certainly succeed in these positions. It excites me that Armenia has one of the highest ratios of women in IT. 
Tatevik Sayadyan
Can you tell me about your work here? There are many talents in Armenia, correct? Are there other textile designers in Armenia?
In truth, there aren’t too many textile designers in Armenia, working in the field. And the industry itself is just starting to revive.  In LA textile designers often work together with fashion designer creating unique fabrics to use for their lines. In Armenia, however, this culture is not wide spread yet.  Some fashion designers use fabrics available at the stores only and are not too flexible to experiment more with beautiful prints.  Print is so much more interesting, in my opinion, maybe slightly more challenging to work with. Most of the fabrics  available in Armenia comes from the same place, more or less. There are however many talented designers in Armenia that are not afraid to experiment.  I am currently working with a  fashion designer who moved back from Argentina. She approached me stating that she wants her own prints to use in her new collection; this is very exciting for me. There are textile companies, such as Alex Textiles, and I am cooperating with them right now as they slowly develop newer products. There are a few others that are opening up, but we mostly lack the printing aspect in all of this. There is digital printing on synthetic materials, for the most part. I have heard about traditional printing of textiles coming into Armenia, but it requires significant investments and is a lot more expensive.
Tatevik Sayadyan
Furthermore, digital printing allows for all colors, while traditional  has limitations. It just adds more work in designing. Digital printing is faster, overall. I am always happy to cooperate with new businesses in the field, however, especially since quality is becoming a top focus. Besides designing fabric for different clients, I have my own brand of accessories, scarves, ties and more. The brand is called Aluna. I use traditional, Armenian ornaments and motifs mixing them  with classical textile motifs and using fashion trend colors of the season. All scarves and fabrics are designed here, the packaging for all items is also made in Armenia. However, since we still lack the ability to print on natural fabrics I outsource the printing to China. Hopefully we will have the ability to print on all sorts of material in Armenia in the near future. 

What is your vision of Armenia 10 years from now, both in your field and overall?
If there is nothing to put a stop to the momentum, we will be able to achieve high-quality textile printing on cloth produced in Armenia and exported around the world. We have had developed textile industry in the past. We have had silkworms and the entire silk creation process. It is a dream for me, but I believe it can become a reality in the future. I would love to see significant upgrades in infrastructure. I would like to see a more responsible society that truly loves the country and takes steps to better the environment for all. We expect too much from the government right now without showing readiness to assist in the change we wish to see. I expect high numbers of tourists, perfect roads, knowledgeable staff in all fields, cleanliness without the floating plastic bags everywhere, and beautiful cities. I do not expect to become Amsterdam; I love Yerevan as it is and just want to see the better version of it bloom over the coming years. I hope to see a strong and independent Armenia.

Tamar Najarian

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