For trend model founder and former refugee Mohamed Malim, discarded jackets are symbols of perseverance.
Mohamed Malim, a former Somali refugee who left for the US when he was three years outdated, needs his trend model to start out conversations.
His Minnesota-based startup Epimonia takes life jackets from the Greek island of Lesbos that had been worn by refugees crossing the Mediterranean and transforms them into bracelets, hats, jackets and different clothes. The seamstresses on the label are additionally refugees.
“Individuals see you wearing orange, they ask you about it after which you possibly can discuss in regards to the firm and in regards to the refugees,” says Malim (essential picture).
A snapshot in late 2020 revealed that 82.four million individuals worldwide had been forcibly displaced because of persecution, battle, violence or human rights violations, based on the United Nations Refugee Company. Extra lately, it’s estimated that greater than three million individuals have fled Ukraine since February.
Epimonia (the phrase means ‘perseverance’ in Greek) is about telling a extra reasonable and balanced story about refugees, in addition to supporting them in apply.
“I selected that phrase as a result of refugees undergo many challenges and persevere all through the journey,” says Malim. She factors out that for a lot of refugees, life jackets are the very last thing they put on.
Life jackets have change into emblematic of the perilous journey that many refugees undertake. Picture: Jametlen Reskp
It was whereas learning advertising at college in 2018 that Malim launched Epimonia. He was pissed off by the anti-refugee rhetoric he was listening to from politicians like former President Donald Trump, in addition to from the media and the general public. “My objective was to fight that by sharing refugee success tales,” he merely notes.
Malim started by asking the refugees to share a bit about themselves and posted profiles of them, together with portraits, on-line. Realizing that she may make an impression by means of trend, she collaborated along with her uncle, Dutch-Somali clothier Omar Munie, to create her first designs. Along with his preliminary signature accent, the Embracelet, Epimonia was born.
“It is a very small workforce,” says Malim. “I’ve about 4 staff and 6 refugee seamstresses working in the meanwhile.”
My objective was to struggle [anti-refugee rhetoric]sharing refugee success tales
The label has already completed rather a lot regardless of its measurement. Greater than $45,000 (£33,000) has been donated for prices equivalent to college scholarships and citizen software charges for refugees. Epimonia has partnered with refugee organizations, sports activities groups and artists, amongst others, and has to date recycled greater than 500 life jackets, donated by Refugee four Refugees, a Greek NGO.
“We additionally present token assist,” explains Malim. “As a result of if you put on an Epimonia garment, you’re sporting one thing very highly effective. It’s solidarity: you’re standing with refugees from all around the world.”
Mukhtar Dahir left Somalia for Canada when he was only one yr outdated and has since moved to the US. Dahir met Malim in 2019 and was impressed by what he was doing. “I used to be a bit shocked,” says Dahir. “I had by no means met somebody who would purchase life jackets and switch them into clothes. I discovered it very intriguing and fascinating.”
Wristbands are among the many gadgets that life jackets change into. Picture: Epimony
Each have skilled prejudice as former refugees. In Toronto, Dahir, now operations and logistics supervisor for Epimonia, was conscious of the stereotypes: that refugees rely
on authorities handouts; they’re lazy and a burden to the system. “If you’re in a minority, you discover issues that individuals say, like, ‘Oh, you communicate eloquently for an individual who moved right here,’” he says. “These issues can get to you, they are often the straw that breaks the camel’s again.”
Epimonia tells a special story, they usually’re simply getting began. The couple have large plans for the approaching yr, together with a mission to assist Afghan refugees, involving Minnesota state authorities. Collaborations with refugee designers and fashions are additionally within the works.
We need to encourage individuals to be extra empathetic and assist as many refugees as we will.
Malim additionally needs to start out creating garments from tents left behind in Greece. “It is one other cool option to elevate consciousness: utilizing the strap from the shop to make bracelets and hats,” she says.
“We need to proceed to develop and have a huge impact,” provides Malim. “We need to encourage individuals to be extra empathetic and assist as many refugees as we will.”
donated to refugees to date
life jackets which have been become clothes and bracelets
refugees employed by the corporate to date
Foremost picture: Mohamed Malim. Credit score: Paul Akama
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