3 Days, 75 Miles, One Life-Changing Trip: In Bosnia With Space NK's Founder

If you know anything about Nicky Kinnaird, the founder of Space NK, you know that her apothecaries always — and we mean always — showcase the best in boutique beauty. But, here's something we didn't know about Kinnaird: She is absolutely passionate about helping other women. Last year, Space NK introduced in Peace Eau De Parfum, delivering 10 percent of net profits to Women For Women International (WfWI), a nonprofit organization that helps survivors of war begin to rebuild their lives.
This summer, Kinnaird took her commitment further, traveling to Bosnia and Herzegovina to participate in the March of Peace — a three-day, 75-mile journey commemorating the 8,000 victims of the 1995 genocide. Through participating in this walk, Kinnaird helped raise thousands of British pounds for WfWI, giving the group much-needed resources to help the women who are still struggling through the war's aftermath. Her trip allowed her to see, first-hand, the progress that is being made...and how much more is left to go.
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"Although this war was more than 18 years ago, it toppled the economy and shattered lives," Kinnaird says. "And, women are still struggling today to heal, to recover, and to reunite." Here, she shares her personal pictures and her diary exclusively with Refinery29.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
The stunning view from my room at Hotel Europe, Sarajevo. It’s like Istanbul meets the Swiss Alps; however, the scars of war abound. Shortly, we meet up with the other 10 members of our team and country hosts from WfWI.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Day two: It’s immersion in the recent history of Bosnia and Herzegovina and how WfWI established itself there, lead by Country Director Seida Saric. Brita surprised her with a copy of the just-published WfWI UK charity cookbook, Share, containing recipes from supporters and global luminaries.

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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Examining and enjoying the handiwork of some of the Bosnian WfWI program graduates. These amazing hand knits were bound for Kate Spade and Anthropologie stores in the United States.

When women enroll in the WfWI one-year holistic program, they receive rights awareness training, vocational skills education, and access to income-generating opportunities, thereby ultimately contributing to the political and economic health of their communities.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Mid-morning, we headed to WfWI’s Poculica Centre to attend a Life Skills and Business Training class with a difference — I was taking the second half. Thirty pupils, two teachers, one translator...and me telling them the story of Space NK — the trials and tribulations, blood, sweat, and tears of growing a business from scratch.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Lipstick Queen very kindly donated lipsticks for all the class, which caused a stir — as did Victor, the WfWI French intern, who was the recipient of fawning looks from the teenage pupils.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
At lunchtime, we headed into the countryside to meet with women graduates from the Association in Ahmici who have successfully established a medicinal herb co-operative.

Thanks to funding from USAID, this group of 15 WfWI graduates have purchased a commercial drier that enables them to speed up and increase their production of mint, basil, hisop, calendula, and catnip. With a market partner secured with help from WfWI, regular income is guaranteed.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Look: the perfect marigold.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Later that afternoon, I met with my sponsor sister, Sabaheta Nesib Faljic, in her home near Zavidovići. Enrolled in the local WfWI program, she has a two-hour mountainous walk to join her weekly classes.

Though she is extremely bright, Sabaheta’s parents couldn’t afford to send her to university. The war ended her chances of further education. She would still love to work in medicine, but says she has given up on herself. A devoted mother of three, Sabaheta seeks a brighter future for her children. Her husband used to be a construction worker, but sadly, no one is building anything anymore.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Sabaheta’s pride and joy is her greenhouse, where she grows fruit and vegetables for the family to eat. They exist on a weekly stipend from WfWI and income from whatever menial jobs they can find. Unemployment in this village runs at more than 50 percent. Her 18- and 22-year-old daughters are unemployed; they would love to attend college, but without money, they have no prospects. Their 16-year-old brother is still in high school. A gut-wrenching situation that is all too common in Bosnia, the poorest country in Europe.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
On April 5, 1992, the siege of the city of Sarajevo started. Three hundred thousand inhabitants were surrounded and held hostage by the Yugoslavian army, paramilitaries from Serbia and Montenegro, and well-armed local Serbian citizens. This horror continued until late 1995.

Over a four-month period in 1993, the Bosnian army and people from civil defense organizations constructed a tunnel (800m long, 1m wide, and 1.6m deep) running under the airport runway linking the Dobrinja and Butmir neighborhoods. This provided a military communication channel, housed both an oil pipeline and electricity cable, and provided a means of supplying food into the city. A hazardous task for the people passing through, but a necessary risk, as it made the difference between death or survival for those under siege.

Now a symbol of human courage, confidence, and bravery, the Sarajevo War Tunnel represents the survival by a resilient people of the longest siege of a city in history.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
My time in Sarajevo wouldn’t be complete without visiting some of the local apotekas. Medicinal herbs and tinctures predominate alongside pharmacy brands such as Vichy, Nivea, and Eucerin.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Next up, a three-hour scenic ride through the mountains to Tuzla, to spend the night close to the start of the three-day, 120km March for Peace in tribute to the victims of genocide in Bosnia.

I am seeking to raise as much money as possible via sponsorship to enable WfWI to help more Bosnian women rebuild their lives. This, in turn, builds stronger families and communities that ultimately can change the course of a nation.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Day Four: I’m official, there’s no backing out.

The path of the March in Bosnia, first organized in 2006, coincides with the one taken in July 1995 by thousands of refugees trying to escape certain death when the enclave of Srebrenica was taken over by the army of Republika Srpska. It is estimated that more than 8,000 people died in their attempts to flee through the woods and across the hills to reach free territory.

The Peace March is done in the opposite direction, from Nezuk to Potočari, a symbolic return to Srebrenica. The WfWI U.K. and Bosnian team and I are walking the 120km route over three days with a goal of raising as much sponsorship money as possible, to help WfWI extend the reach of their work in Bosnia & Herzegovina.

Please visit my Just Giving page if you would like to add your support to the very generous donations already received.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
My decadent Camelpak essentials: an Exofficio hat impregnated with insect repellent (yes, it really works), By Terry Baume de Rose lip protectant, Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer, Goldfaden MD Sun Visor SPF 30, Oribe shampoo and conditioner sachets and Sisley Eau de Campagne towelettes alongside Repel 100 bug repellent, anti-chafing Body Glide, AfterBite, and antibacterial hand wipes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Team WfWI ready for the off.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Up hill and down dale, the column of 5,000 marchers extends for miles. Elvir, our guide, talks about his experience of the war. Elvir was 16 when he had to flee over the mountains. He left Srebrenica in a group of 2,000 which, after 78 days, was reduced to a mere 20 who made it through to Tuzla within the safe zone. Some of Elvir’s friends fell victim to land mines; others were gunned down or got sick along the way. His father and two brothers never made it. Eight thousand civilians were killed in a mere five days.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Villagers sustain fellow marchers with sugar and strong, dark coffee.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Foot relief comes in various guises – bowls of icy cold water with Aromatherapy Associates’ highly effective De-Stress Muscle Bath & Shower Oil, a therapeutic blend of rosemary, black pepper, lavender and ginger essential oils. Electrolyte-laced water and legs raised up the wall keep puffy ankles at bay.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
The terrain covered was vast and varied. Bosnia is a very beautiful land of contrasts, but still not the place to veer off piste, as remnants of war (such as land mines) abound. Heavily shelled buildings, and mines yet to be cleared, lined our route. No matter where you climb, you are never far from the mass burial sites that sent shivers down my spine.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Our home for nights two and three of the hike was in the war-ravaged town of Srebrenica. Our host, Anesa Begic, was burying her father’s remains during Wednesday’s mass burial ceremony at the cemetery at Potočari.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Abdullah’s restaurant was our team HQ for dinner, breakfast, and early-evening fundraising efforts.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Everyone unfurled their banners and flags for the final section down to Potočari cemetery. Thousands of locals thronged the cemetery to greet the commemorative marchers. Team WfWI were as one, emotionally spent as the cost of war hit us loud and clear. Everywhere you turned, new burial plots had been dug to receive the remains of bodies recovered over the past year. Mass graves continue to be excavated and identified victims laid to rest.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Widows, mothers, and daughters remember their dead. July 10, 2013, Potocari.
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Photo: Courtesy of Nicky Kinnaird.
Having witnessed the country 18 years post war, I understand why Bosnia was the starting point for WfWI. To date, 40,000 women have been through WfWI’s program in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and 30 local associations have been formed by locally-based community groups of graduates to further their initial work.

A success story and positive memory that gives cause for hope….
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