Artbox is empowering Armenian women entrepreneurs in fashion

For centuries, the fashion industry has served as a source of creativity, employment and international exchange. The role of women entrepreneurship in fashion not only fuels innovation and creativity within the industry but also promotes individuality and significant cultural narratives. 

One  program that endorses women’s entrepreneurship in fashion is Artbox. Developed by  Creative Armenia art foundation, Artbox incubates and accelerates innovative ideas, personal brands, institutions and creative enterprises for commercial success.

Artbox provides all the necessary skills to manage the entire creative process and build successful and sustainable businesses. The program is free of charge and runs online through a specialized education platform. It can be viewed as a reinvention of incubator and accelerator models for the art world.

While Creative Armenia worked on the idea for Artbox for many years, the pilot edition of the program was launched in December 2021, in partnership with the European Union and GIZ’s EU4Business “Innovative Tourism and Technology Development for Armenia” project. In July 2022, it developed into the current Artbox with four key programs, funded by the EU and launched in partnership with AGBU Armenia within the framework of the KATAPULT Creative Accelerator Program. Counting all Artbox Incubator and Artbox Accelerator participants, the current number of founders is 65.

Here are five different fashion brands by Armenian women entrepreneurs who were part of Creative Armenia’s Artbox. 

Hovash by Sona Hovhannisyan

Sona Hovhannisyan’s brand, Hovash, was founded with the belief that everyone, especially women, has a unique voice and story. To Hovhannisyan, jewelry serves as a tangible expression of such narratives, carrying personal significance that transcends generations. “I was inspired by the idea of creating pieces that empower individuals through their distinctiveness and preserve the empowering uniqueness of women’s journeys,” Hovhannisyan told the Weekly. 

The brand collaborates closely with skilled artisans to ensure that each jewelry item reflects the individual’s vision and cultural heritage. The collections also include natural elements, harnessing their energy to inspire and uplift.

Sona Hovhannisyan, creator of Hovash

According to Hovhannisyan, her journey with Hovash is deeply rooted in her Armenian heritage. “Growing up surrounded by the rich artistic traditions of Armenian jewelry craftsmanship, I developed a profound appreciation for our cultural heritage and the meticulous craftsmanship involved. This heritage inspired my brother and me to start Hovash. Our childhood spent in our father’s room, where he crafted handmade jewelry, taught us the power of storytelling through art.”

Artbox has played a pivotal role in the development of Hovash, offering important practical and non-practical knowledge. “It’s empowering to see how creative businesses face challenges head-on, and the support and solutions provided by professionals in the industry have been invaluable,” she said.

Hovash rings

Hovash offers a unique opportunity for customers to design their own custom pieces, collaborating closely with the brand’s skilled artisans to bring their vision to life. Hovash not only reflects personal narratives but also empowers local artisans and champions sustainability through the use of precious metals.

“My advice to aspiring female entrepreneurs would be to always believe in the spark within their hearts and have the courage to follow it. Embracing your unique vision and expressing it authentically is a courageous gift to yourself and the world. Surround yourself with supportive networks, continue to learn and adapt, and never underestimate the power of persistence in achieving your goals,” Hovhannisyan said.

57 Metanoia by Ghazaryan Sisters

During their studies at the State Academy of Fine Arts of Armenia, Anush and Mariam Ghazaryan realized that they could combine their skills and ideas. Through their education and participation in workshops at Tumo Studios, the two sisters were equipped with all the necessary skills to create 57 Metanoia.

While working on their final year project, the sisters explored the concept of appreciating nature, which later took the format of clothing adorned with pictures of nature. Their collection’s name, “Metanoia,” describes a transformative journey to change one’s mindset, lifestyle and worldview, aimed to inspire conscious living. They create bags with a commitment to nature and the environment, exemplified by their zero-waste approach. The brand repurposes excess fabrics into new collections, giving them a new lease on life. “Our goal is to craft comfortable, distinctive bags with innovative solutions, appealing to customers who share our values and choose to support sustainable brands,” the Ghazaryans told the Weekly.

Anush and Mariam Ghazaryan, founders of 57 Metanoia

Through their participation in Artbox and collaboration with experienced professionals, Anush and Mariam gained valuable professional experience. “We gained crucial insights into effective tactics, adept market presentation, a profound understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, and practical implementation of these strategies,” they said. 

The brand 57 Metanoia consists of stylish and artistic options for everyday reusable bags that are not only presentable but also versatile for various daily activities such as gym sessions, work, study, shopping, evening parties and more. Their unique technique of handcrafted silk screen printing has become the defining symbol of the brand.

57 Metanoia bags

In a market flooded with variations of leather bags or fabric bags that often lack durability, 57 Metanoia’s bags offer a durable alternative to traditional tote bags.

“We believe that every individual’s journey as an entrepreneur is unique. The initial stages may feel uncertain and challenging, but the key to overcoming them is to start and persist without stopping. This process provides a tremendous opportunity for personal growth, fostering self-belief, and ultimately achieving your goals,” they said.

Artuyt by Arevik Arakelyan

With a background in Oriental studies, Arevik Arakelyan’s journey into entrepreneurship with Artuyt can seem unrelated. Yet, the concept of Artuyt was a childhood dream to Arakelyan that became a reality and reflects her persistent interest in fashion history.

Artuyt is the embodiment of Arakelyan’s childhood dream combining art and fashion. Throughout her travels in Europe and visits to different museum shops, Arevik noticed the lack of representation of Armenian art, and that sparked her willingness to establish her own fashion brand. “Artuyt addresses the lack of representation of Armenian art, both within the Armenian market and globally. We introduce people to our talented Armenian artists, fostering appreciation for their work and bridging the gap between our rich artistic heritage and broader recognition,” Arakelyan said.

Arevik Arakelyan, founder of Artuyt

Artbox played a pivotal role in Artuyt’s development and business growth. The network provided by Artbox was helpful in creating opportunities for collaboration and expanding the brand’s reach within the industry.

“What distinguishes our brand is our commitment to providing a tangible connection to art, fostering emotional engagement, and infusing meaning in every detail,” Arakelyan said. By representing an entire country through the brand, Artuyt creates a unique and culturally resonant experience that sets it apart from others.

Artuyt headscarf

To all aspiring female entrepreneurs, Arevik’s advice is to simply ignore those who doubt your capabilities. Pursue your dreams relentlessly; it’s never too late to achieve what you passionately desire. Don’t let skepticism deter you; go after your goals with steadfast determination.

NENSI AVETISIAN by Nensi Avetisian

Brought up in a traditional, religious Armenian family, Nensi Avetisian felt a deep connection with her motherland from a young age. “I grew up with my grandmother, who spoke to me in Armenian. Listening to her stories and memories about relatives and motherland made me understand myself better. I always reference Armenian music, painters and architecture in my work,” Avetisian told the Weekly. One example is Avetisian’s upcycled black leather structured bag, inspired by an ancient Armenian church the designer came across during an early visit to Armenia.

Nensi Avetisian, founder of NENSI AVETISIAN

NENSI AVETISIAN addresses sustainability, which automatically translates to honesty and openness. “It means a dialogue between everything and everybody. It is not only about the materials used. It’s about people, working conditions, the language usage, the way we behave on the Internet,” she said. The clothing and accessories are inspired by Armenian traditions, culture and craft, a wearable transition from the study of utility.

My career in fashion started when I entered my first internship in a fashion brand in Moscow in 2015. At that time I was studying my first years at BHSAD. Along with studying at the university, I was involved in jobs and internships in Moscow,” Avetisian said. Due to the 2020 pandemic, Avetisian could not pursue international internships; however, this became a positive thing, as she focused more on the local fashion community and made a few collaborations with local creatives. 


Through her participation in the Artbox program, Avetisian developed a professional view on her business. After coming up with a strategic plan for the brand’s development and forming the brand’s DNA, she pushed the brand forward using the received financial support.

“Promoting inclusivity and diversity in the fashion industry, along with providing accessible resources and mentorship programs, could empower new female entrepreneurs and foster a more dynamic and representative landscape,” Avetisian said.

Hena Aposhian

Hena Aposhian

Hena Aposhian is a freelance journalist who primarily focuses on Armenian arts & culture. She is a graduate of the American University of Armenia and holds a bachelor's degree in English & Communications.

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