ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A recent University of St. Thomas graduate is turning his family's struggle into a way to give back to other refugees.
He launched a fashion company and he’s giving half of his profits to those in crisis.
This all started with a business start-up competition at the University of St. Thomas last year.
Now, the 22-year-old is working to keep it going and it's very personal for him and his parents.
“She reminds me no matter how far you go in life, stay true to yourself, and always be kind to others, because you was on the same boat,” said Mohamed Malim, the founder of Epimonia.
As his family fled from the Civil War in Somalia, Mohamed Malim was born in a refugee camp in Kenya, spending three years there before coming to the United States.
“There were some scary moments and that humbles me as a human, particularly, she reminds me to constantly remind yourself who you are. You have shelter. You have a great life in America,” he said.
During his senior year at St. Thomas, while studying business management and entrepreneurship, Malim founded Epimonia, which means perseverance in Greek.
He worked closely with his uncle, who is a high end fashion designer in the Netherlands. The two create bracelets made from recycled life jackets warn by people fleeing to Greece. Fifty percent of the profits go back to helping refugees.
“Humans should help each other. That’s what we believe in and being very comfortable here and very blessed here. I just feel like I have a duty to go and help 63 million people in the world who are living terribly. And I’m comfortable with heated blankets and everything I need,” he said.
Less than six months after the company started this summer, Epimonia awarded its first $1,000 check to the International Institute of Minnesota.
The bright orange color doubles as a conversation starter.
“It’s very tough right now with our political climate right now with the refugee crisis but I always tell my friends you know,” said Malim. “Spreading love and unity is what it’s all about.”
Inspired by fellow St. Thomas graduates and founders of Love Your Melon, Malim and his partner hope these bracelets will become just a popular as those well-known beanies.
It’s building humanity through this reminder of struggle and hope.
“If we can change one life, we have accomplished our dream,” said Amin Abdulkadir.
The bracelets are also hand-crafted by refugees.
They cost $40 each and are available through the company’s website.
If all goes well, Malim plans to expand to clothing items and other products beyond bracelets.