Sarah Chayes, Founder

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Sarah at Arghand, holding a bowl of anisette soaps.

Showing Arghand member, Dil Jan, how to wash soap for the first polish.

It was a sense of historic opportunity that prompted Sarah to renounce her journalism career in early 2002, after covering the fall of the Taliban for National Public Radio, and to remain in Afghanistan to help rebuild the country. 

She began by launching the efforts of a non-profit called Afghans for Civil Society in what had been the Taliban heartland, the frontier city of Kandhar.  For all its windswept austerity, Kandahar produced exquisite fruit for millennia – pomegranates, luscious grapes, slender almonds with paper-thin shells.  In 2005, Sarah founded Arghand as a way of introducing this magical produce and its benefits to Western consumers, of helping to revive the region’s historic role in exporting it and its derivatives, and of promoting sustainable development and competing with the opium economy.

When not in Afghanistan, Sarah is a resident of Paris, France, where throughout the late 1990’s she reported for National Public Radio, covering France, the European Union, North Africa and the Balkans.  She holds both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in history from Harvard University, and served in the Peace Corps in Morrocco.

She is the author of The Punishment of Virtue, Inside Afghanistan After the Taliban (Penguin press, 2006) and has contributed to such publications as The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Mail on Sunday.  She lectures regularly at universities and other venues about the situation in Afghanistan, U.S. policy, the role of beauty in everyday life and the challenges of expanding a business in an active theater of war.

Sarah’s global citizenship, her involvement with geopolitics, her love of nature and passion for beauty, as well as her commitment to a cooperative business model, all gave rise to Arghand and its unique natural skincare line built on the exotic fruits and lush botanicals that are indigenous to southern Afghanistan.

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