By Muhammad Riaz Usman
Khaleej Times, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The founder of Palestyle’s social mission is simple: By purchasing a Palestyle luxury handbag, you empower refugee women with jobs and their families with social projects.
After visiting refugee camps in Lebanon for the first time in 2009, Zeina Abou Chaaban, managing director and founder of Palestyle, was moved by what she witnessed.
Over 180,000 refugees were crammed into one square kilometre of land. Most of those refugees were young and educated, yet due to a lack of job opportunities and inadequate infrastructure, they were struggling under poverty.
“At the camp, I met a group of brave women who, despite the harsh conditions, spent their time embroidering to make money and contribute to their families. This was so inspirational that I decided to act. That is how the idea of Palestyle was conceived as a social fashion brand, a pioneer in the region,” she says.
The artisans behind Palestyle’s intricate handmade embroidery have now journeyed from impoverished camps in the Middle East to Italian workshops where the brand’s luxury handbags are crafted. From there, the handbags travel to high-end department stores around the world, including the likes of House of Fraser and Bloomingdales.
Along with Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Palestyle is also available in Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and the UK. The brand has a very strong online market in Australia, Belgium and a couple of other European countries.
Palestyle’s genuine leather handbags are adorned with embroidery and gold-plated Arabic calligraphy containing messages of femininity and strength.
“Through Palestyle, we empower women by providing them embroidery jobs and their communities with a percentage of our sales invested in social development projects, while also promoting the beauty of Arabic heritage through calligraphy and embroidery. It is those women who inspire us every day and because of them, we aim to empower more from different backgrounds,” says Zeina.