In the Spotlight: Shahd Alasaly

Shahd Alasaly is the CEO, Designer, and Co-Founder of blue meets blue an ethical clothing line that employs refugee women in the USA. 

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She received her Masters in International Psychology focusing on: Working with Refugees Post Arrival to their Host Country. Upon completing her masters the refugee crisis hit an all time high, she wanted to combine her love for fashion with her background in Psychology.

Previously, Shahd co-founded a book subscription business, HoneyTree Books which focuses on integrating multicultural characters and diversity in the books we read to our children. Originally from Phoenix, Shahd resides in Chicago with her husband and two children

1) Please tell us why you created Blue Meets Blue?

 As I was doing my Masters in International Psychology on: “Working with Refugees After Arriving to their New Country”, the refugee crisis hit an all-time high.

I wanted to combine my ‘passion for fashion’ with my background in psychology and specifically working with refugees. After a few months of contemplating, meeting with the refugees, sourcing the fabric, and finally starting I decided to bring in my friend and business partner Randa Kuziez Who had worked with refugees for 10 years in St. Louis. She also did her Masters in international affairs and if it could not be a better fit.

2) Tell us about the reason for the name?

Unfortunately many refugees take a very perilous journey to leave their country and arrive to safety. Sometimes that journey includes being on a boat or a raft were the only thing they see is the blue of the ocean meeting the blue of the sky representing their freedom, also representing the challenges they face.

3) Tell is why fashion is a source of empowerment?

The fashion we work on is a huge source of empowerment for the refugee women. They want to work and have employment and show that they can also contribute to society. Also many of these women used to be seamstresses back home so they are working in their skill-set. They take great pride in their accomplishments and truly make each piece with love.
4) Tell us about what you have learned from meeting refugee women?

While I already knew a lot of the struggle these women had gone through prior to their arrival in the United States, It wasn’t until I actually met with them and sat down and heard their stories that I really realized how unbelievably resilient they are. I am so proud of them and really hope that blue meets blue continues to grow so that they are able to have a more steady income.

5) What is the one misconception about women that you would like to change?

 Unfortunately right now in the current political climate there are many misconceptions about refugees. These misconceptions could not be further from the truth. The women that we work with are very resilient and strong and are grateful to be in this country and are very happy to call it home-we want everyone to know that.
6) What have you learned about yourself though the process?

I have been working on this project for about a year and a half now. Before launching there were many moments of self-doubt and uncertainty. At many times I would think “will this project be successful? Will I be able to help these women?” After  launching the company, while the struggle still persists, the amount of support and love we have received nationwide has been a blessing. I learned that perseverance and a great deal of hustle will really pay off.

7) Why is it is so important to make refugee women self sufficient vs men?

 In our male dominated society, we found it very important to make sure that the female refugees arriving to this country are able to find employment. Many women are heads of their households and the primary caretakers of their children, it is essential that they are able to be independent.
8) Lastly, what do you see as a future for Blue Meets Blue in 5 years?
 We hope that with in the next five years we are able to open a warehouse where we can employ these refugee women full-time and bring on many more women.