BY JASMINE ELLISON
We make numerous connections in our lifetime but only a select few of those connections are meaningful. Those meaningful connections create our network and our network provides us with support, opportunities and fulfilment if we’re lucky. Yelda Ali saw those lines and dots that connect us and decided to create an organization that created and nourished valuable connections between women. “I started Camel Assembly in hopes that it would serve as an incubator for successful, creative women in NYC to nurture and support each other's creativity and greatness,” Ali elucidated. “I wanted to connect the women in my life and grow a safe community.”
The manifestation of the name demonstrates the carefulness and creativity present in Ali.
“I named it Camel Assembly because I love the feeling of an assembly, it feels grand and productive, a place for communication and inspiration. Camel came into play because nowadays when we think of Camels and Woman – we often think Camel Toe. But I love the Camel. And it symbolizes patience, tolerance, and endurance. It goes long distances, doesn’t sink, carries heavy weight on its back (a ton of energy!), never gets thirsty and doesn’t break a sweat. Most importantly, the Camel has increased ability of service to provide when properly cared for – like a woman. I decided to create a space where women assemble to take care of one another. In return, I hope we serve our dreams, our communities and our causes with increased ability. And along the way, we can change the narrative of what we think when we think Camel and Woman.”
The legend of Yelda is interesting. “I was conceived while my parents were being smuggled out of Afghanistan, so that's why I feel like I'm half lovechild half warrior. I was born in Germany, raised in Canada and I've made NYC home for nearly a decade now but I have goals to live all over the world.” Her experiences are extensive with positions ranging from Executive Producer for Russell Simmons to Creative Director for creative music agency NUE. Still, she remains entranced by music. “My favorite hobby turned hustle is DJing, which I’ve been doing for almost half a decade. I think music is something that naturally connects humans so I hope to use it as a vehicle to create social change.”
Camel Assembly is definitely being used as a vehicle for change. A lot of work is still needed to create the vision for Ali wants. “I hope that the women of Camel Assembly reach their personal goals with the network by working together, but I definitely have my own vision in this,” Ali started. “I hope to enter into the field of education with [Camel Assembly], and I’m especially interested in building curriculum for younger girls, who really don’t have social structures that will teach them the basic principles of women building together and loving themselves. Sounds basic but it’s not. I have gathered so much data first-hand from women ages 18-35 in terms of what they struggle with when it comes to work, life and love. My goal is to prep a future generation of women in a way that college isn’t and can’t. The real shit that’s going to hit when they leave school. And naturally, all of us Camels aim to make change in the world so my biggest goal is to continue building this community of soldiers who are riding for one another, supporting each other’s causes and directing real change in the world together. 1+1=3”
“Camel Assembly is currently invite only, mainly because it’s been a careful culture we have cultivated and we want to make sure it’s a safe space for all of our girls,” Ali revealed. “I know everyone who enters each meeting and can personally vouch for them, which is important when you’re responsible for making sure everyone else that comes will consistently feel loved, inspired, encouraged and an energy of oneness. No space for competition, judgment or insincerity. There are also opportunities, experiences and access that come with being a part of this network. We see the value and preciousness in that. That being said, we’re actively building our community while leading this culture and excited to rollout larger, more public assemblies.”
However, outsiders shouldn’t be discouraged. “For my women, join our Facebook Group and our conversation! Come to an assembly, so many sisters ready to welcome you. For the men reading this, you’re awesome, and we hope you understand your importance in this conversation and know that we look forward to working with you in making change. By no means are we man-haters, I know men are great when they try. We urge you to feel our pain points, visions and missions; know our truest mission is love for everyone – curriculum coming for y’all too!”
Not only is Ali handling Camel Assembly but she is also the founder of People of Peace. Ali explains that “POP is a cause-driven creative agency that produces online and on-site campaigns for influencers and brands. We focus on customizing charity experiences and educating through experience. We’ve been fortunate to work with incredibly talented brands, nonprofits and influencers. POP led production for the A$AP Ferg Health Fair in Harlem, an initiative that required each of its young attendees to receive a health check-up prior to checking out the fair's festivities, which included performances, sports training, DJ lessons and art. Most recently we produced an Experiential Education event in Manhattan, giving performing artists a space to also discuss causes or conversations they want to promote. It feels good to show influencers how easily customizable their efforts can be, a way more effective and organic approach.”
Fortunately for Ali, “POP and Camel Assembly have the same vision with different eyes, and if anything Camel Assembly has become a powerful vehicle for People of Peace” so balancing the responsibilities of both is not impossible or chaotic. She went on to say that “my vision with POP is to provide people with the tools to lead change in the world and customize those charity experiences. I’ve been able to do this first-hand with my Camels, we have a massive amount of women who are riding together for one another’s causes and dreams and we’re just getting started.”
Ali gave this advice to other millennials:
“Be patient but vigilant, things don’t manifest overnight. Be consistent, momentum is real and I can’t tell you how good it felt to plan our [Camel Assembly] one-year anniversary knowing it will be our 12th assembly and we’ve never missed a month. Be smart in what you choose to fill your brain with, there’s nothing you can’t master or at least educate yourself on from the same device your reading this on. Most importantly, meet new people every day and learn to stay connected with the ones who bring you joy and bring good to the world. Together you guys will build your own movements and do amazing things!”
Ali is currently “executive producing and directing a visual mix, which will be featuring the Camel Assembly and we’re putting that out this fall.” Also stay tuned for “Camel Assembly social campaigns in 3 major cities coming up Fall 2016: New York, Los Angeles and Toronto. We have three different women from each city who have selected a cause they care about and want to lead change – so we’re riding together to make a difference via customized activations.” Check out Ali’s website, Y3LDA.COM, for more information about her and her activities.