Another wonderful business that is fuelled by strong and powerful women is Elsa’s House of Sleep but be careful to not fall asleep!
Managed by Belainesh Telak, every person who walks into Elsa’s House of Sleep is welcomed with open arms, a bright smile and warm voice. In speaking with Belainesh, we learned that she is from Eritrea, “a country where 30% of the army is women and they were freedom fighters... and the women fought for independence.” And in the month of March, Eritrea holds “a big celebration on the 11th because a lot of women fought in the war. So we’re proud!”
And when asked about the importance of love in this present moment, Belainesh shared that, “We need it because in the times of hate..we have to unite...Because if democracy is for the people, by the people, then we are the people.”
She continued to reflect on how love manifests in her daily life, reminding us that, “any activity that can bring people together is good. I don’t drive I take the bus, and when I see people I say hello, and people are like, ‘People don’t say hello’, and I say, ‘I do’. But people are afraid to talk to each other they just stare at you. I love to talk and share since I come from a small country where there is so much happening.”
And as an African who has previously worked in a Native American store, she discovered that, “They have the same culture as Africans.” During her time at the Native American store, she has jokingly asked her fellow colleagues, “Are you sure you are not from Africa?”
This memory then reminded her of a story from a Native American book she had read where “the people came [to the land] and asked if the [Native Americans would] sell the land to them, and [the Native American] said, ‘I can’t sell it to you. It belongs to God.’ And said, ‘I use it and leave it for my kids. Come in and join us. We use it and when we die, our kids take over.’ It’s the same way in Africa. The earth belongs to all of us.”
And before we left, Belainesh reminded us that the best way to help Africa is not to donate money to large corporations, but rather educate ourselves on why Africans are struggling to help themselves. So let’s start learning!
Elsa’s House of Sleep would like to thank the powerful and strong women-identified workers who have held the business together:
Elsa (Belainish’s sister, who had breast cancer and remained optimistic throughout by remembering that there are many worse things that can happen, “You don’t have to have cancer to die.”)
Eritrea (Belainish’s sister who runs Elsa’s House of Sleep in St. Paul)
Explore more of Elsa’s soft couches, paintings, and more online at http://www.elsasfurniture.com/ or in person at 3540 East Lake St. Minneapolis, MN 55406 and 1441 University Ave WSt Paul, MN 55104.