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Stitching together opportunities for refugees in the U.S.

June 7, 2018

In early May, Thompson Coburn’s Chicago Women’s Initiative Group celebrated its 10th annual women’s networking event by supporting a unique woman-owned company that combines art with empowerment. 

Nearly 100 Chicago women in business attended Thompson Coburn’s event with Blue Meets Blue, a humanitarian luxury fashion label whose designs are handcrafted by refugee artisans. Attendees at the mixer, which over the last 10 years has become a marquee event in the Chicago legal community, included women leaders and entrepreneurs in real estate, banking, insurance, retail and manufacturing.

Guests gathered at Chicago’s famed Alhambra Palace Restaurant, where they enjoyed the restaurant’s intricate Moorish-style décor and traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. Several women attorneys at Thompson Coburn served as models in a fashion show, hitting the runway in flowing Blue Meets Blue designs.

Designer Shahd Alasaly founded Blue Meets Blue in 2015 as a response to the recent refugee crisis. Named for the freedom and connection of the place where “the blue of the ocean meets the blue of the sky,” Blue Meets Blue designs are crafted by refugees from Syria, Jordan and Turkey who are new to the U.S. 

Qualified refugee artisans gather to create the modest couture-level gowns, trousers and tunics in a welcoming environment that allows them to “give voice to their difficult experiences and shines a light on their time-honored tradition of design.” 

As Alasaly said in a recent Q&A with Allure magazine, the company’s founders have already seen that as the artisans sew the designs, they’re having conversations about the difficult experiences they had endured. “It helps to reduce a lot of their anxieties and depression, and they express themselves through the intricate work that they do,” she said. “This is their skill set, so they definitely feel empowered while they are doing it.”