“Growing up Palestine as the daughter of a refugee, I have always been acutely aware of the empowerment a sound education gives” says Palestinian-Australian designer Amira Nimerawi, who launched her shoe label Ballare earlier this year.
Rather than labelling it a fashion brand, the Australia-based designer looks at her venture as a social enterprise, with half of her profits going to benefit education programs for other refugees like her father.
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My daily inspiration! These beautiful, shy and resilient girls, are at a school my start up brand @ballareco is sponsoring. They are at a school for orphans in the West-Bank. What they go through to get an education, is truly inspiring and they don’t even know it! #sendagirltoschool #palestiniangirls
To make this happen, the young designer-turned-activist partnered up with the United Nations Relief Works Agency (UNRWA) in support of their #DignityisPriceless campaign. After the United States announced a dramatic reduction in funding earlier this year, Nimerawi was all that more eager to ensure the education of Palestinian refugees across the Middle East—with that in mind, the partnership with UNRWA became crucial.
The move came after the designer spent time working in Australian financial institutions, where aside from developing a passion for social work, she identified a lack in comfortable shoe options for business women like her. “I was trying to solve a shoe problem for myself and other busy career women, and I knew that with a social business model, I could also solve a problem for young Palestinians,” she explains.
Thus, the birth of her signature design was marked—a flat ballerina-style leather shoe handmade in the Marche region of Italy. With ethics central to her business, Nimerawi also believes in transparent pricing. Impressively, a quick browse through the website reveals a breakdown of her business model so clients can have a full understanding of how the process functions, and exactly how much they’re contributing to the aid of Palestinian refugees.
And just in a matter of months, her first collection has already attracted customers from Dubai to Canada.