The people in the U.S. are incredible people who are united by basic beliefs. The Declaration of Independence says, “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” No matter what the politics are, Americans will always be bound by these truths.
I had the pleasure to Interview Shahd Alasaly, the Founder of Blue Meets Blue
I was born in an affluent family in Syria. My father was a doctor. He and my mother raised me there. When I was two-years-old we moved to Phoenix, AZ, so my dad could complete his residency in pediatrics. My father came to the US because he believed in working hard to achieve the American Dream. He raised us to value the same principles and values that drove him to move to the United States.
Today, as I’ve always traveled back and forth, Syria is unrecognizable to me. It’s endured a lot of pain and is wartorn. But the country I remember was a country of peace, family gatherings, and great hospitality. It used to be filled with the scent of jasmine flowers, and early dinners were followed by afternoon naps. As a girl, I’d visit Damascus in the summertime where my grandmother lived. It was just incredible. She would wake me up with mint green tea, cook for the entire family, and teach me how to make clothes. She’s the one who taught me the quality of fine fabric, how to sew buttons, and ultimately fostered a great love for design.
My experience getting here and becoming a citizen was not difficult. My father was a great doctor and he was welcomed to America by the pediatric community. We settled nicely into Phoenix. I had a good childhood, and I loved that we stayed in the desert.
I eventually left to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago, where I earned my Bachelor’s in Arts & Science, and English Literature, with a focus on Philosophy and Psychology. Afterward, I pursued a Master’s Degree in International Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, where I studied refugee resettlement and art therapy.
I found a way to take my background and combine it with a personal commitment to help others. I spent several years living in Syria, where I taught english and psychology to local groups. I saw firsthand what the common man, woman, and family were experiencing.
Things are going well! I used my upbringing, background and education, to launch a humanitarian luxury clothing company three years ago. It was in response to the refugee crisis. I couldn’t bare to do nothing while 65 million refugees were being displaced, the majority of which were from Syria.
The label is Blue Meets Blue, and our business and employment model is totally different from anything else out there. We are humanitarian first, fashion second. We partner with government relocation agencies to identify and employ skilled refugee workers (our mantra: “work is dignity”), to design and sew garments with us. We are a small, growing team in Chicago, a diverse group, although mostly women. Everyone has their own unique story, but share “refugee” and “war” in common, as they’ve fled wars in Syria, Jordan, Israel and Mexico in order to survive.
Definitely. Through starting Blue Meets Blue.
I knew I needed to find a way to help during the refugee crisis, and realized I could by combining my background in fashion with psychology
Refugee women coming to America face so many challenges, and while grasping the language is difficult enough, most are unable to find work in their previous fields, a factor that compounds the stress of their transition. The list of challenges is long, but these women are inherently resilient and strong. They have no other choice.
The hope with Blue Meets Blue was to create a unique form of art therapy for refugee women by producing an ethical high-end fashion line that utilized their talents, provided financial support, and created communities. Our designers only want what’s best for their families, and for their newfound country.
However, there is much to do in the field of assistance for helping them transition. Blue Meets Blue at least helps provide another option for support. We provide work that emotionally and financially empowers them.
Oprah! I love her life story, how she started out and the way she built her empire. She is a true inspiration and someone who I have always looked up to. I would love to sit down with her and receive pearls of wisdom from someone who knows it all!
Originally published at medium.com