Salam! I am Hedi Yousefi. I started Salam Forever shortly after moving to Brooklyn. But my story actually started well before I arrived here in New York City. I grew up in Tehran and, as a young girl, was surrounded by art and poetry, architecture and design. Art was my whole life. As a very young artist, I would sell my paintings out of my Baba’s shop in Tehran. This foreshadowed the many gallery exhibitions that followed. I was honored to be invited to display my work in Dubai, New Zealand, Tehran, New York City, Kuwait, Austin, Istanbul, Australia, and Dallas.
By the time I moved to New York, I had a masters degree in fine art from the Soore University of Tehran, art exhibitions in more than a dozen cities in seven different countries and on three continents. And along the way, managed to assemble an informal network of friends and colleagues who love art as much as I do.
New York City is perhaps the most diverse place in the world. And yet I was surprised to find very little to share with my Persian friends and family that would indicate our culture was alive and well in the Big Apple. It occurred to me that, if it’s this hard to find a way to share my love for our culture with others in New York, it must be an even greater challenge elsewhere in the United States.
Salam Forever was born from this dream for sharing my vibrant, artistic culture with everyone. By using my network of artists and designers around the world, we have merged the east with the west and created a collection of greeting cards, unique gifts, and fine art prints that are perfect for sharing our unique culture with others, decorating our homes, and celebrating the special moments of our lives.
When I first launched Salam Forever, I was overwhelmed by the response I received from people like you. They confirmed what I had suspected. People were proud of their heritage and their culture but had no practical way to spread the love and joy that comes from the treasures they have stored up in their hearts.
Every day I would receive another message from a new friend that discovered our store online. Your stories told us of family members that were being reunited. Friends that were learning deeper truths about each other. Neighbors that were being thanked for their kindness. Babies being born. Couples getting married. Traditions celebrated. Mothers and fathers being reminded that their lessons for their children had not been forgotten.
Your story has confirmed for us what we always believed. Art and poetry are essential to your life. And culture is at the heart of it all. We are inspired by our Persian culture and greatly influenced by so many others. Our world is full of amazing people living energetic lives driven by their own vibrant cultures. Salam Forever is here to capture the pulse of these beating cultural hearts and create charming and infectious ways to share them with as many people in this world as we possibly can.
I continue to receive invitations to display my paintings. Most recently, I was honored when my work was included in an art exhibition in the World Trade Center’s Oculus here in New York. But on most days my paint brushes sit idle in their jar while I spend my time networking with my artist friends, craftspeople, writers and printers, creating an experience that everyone can share with their friends and families in their neighborhood community and around the world.