It was in 2009 that Zeina Abou Chaaban, the director and founder of PaleStyle first visited refugee camps in Lebanon, and what she witnessed on those visits formed her mission for the years ahead. That same year Zeina launched PaleStyle as a way to support the women she had met in the camps and to bring awareness to not only their plight, but also their incredible skill set. Two years later, her brother Ahmad joined the company and in the past six years, the pair has grown the brand into a highly sought-after accessories label that's been worn by the likes of Michelle Rodriguez and Eva Longoria and is stocked in the U.S., Asia, the U.K. and extensively across the Middle East.
What sets the brand apart, in addition to its socially conscious outlook, is the embroidery work which is done by women in the camps Zeina visited all those years ago. Since its launch, the brand has employed 100 women to create bespoke embroidery for the brand's handbags, which is helping to break the cycle of poverty these women and their families live in. It is also ensuring the art of embroidery is carried on for another generation.
The women create the embroidery in the camps and it is then sent to Italy where it is worked into the brand's handbags, which are crafted from supple Italian leather. Each bag is then finished with messages in Arabic calligraphy relating to the ideas of femininity and strength.
Additionally, the brand also donates 2.5 per cent of its sales to social development projects in the camps. In the past, this has included an olive tree plantation in Palestine to aid local farmers, a water tank exchange program in the Jordan Baqaa refugee camp that provided clean water for the camp's 4,000+ inhabitants and a children's community library in Al Mafraq, Jordan, to bring books to the 450 children who live within the refugee community.
It looks set to be a big couple of years for the brand, as this year it is launching a home line to complement its accessories, and is looking to launch shoes next year and men's after that. Click through the gallery above to see some of the brand's newest designs, and to learn more or to purchase a handbag, click here.