The Collective Thread Bolsters St. Louis Fashion Industry, Empowers Refugees and Immigrants

Zohra Zaimi arrived in St. Louis as an immigrant from North Africa in 2016 feeling uncertain about how she’d make a living in the U.S. She and her husband soon became parents, which didn’t make finding a job any easier. Even so, she searched for an employer who would be understanding of her situation and who could help her build a new career.

At the same time, a nonprofit business now known as The Collective Thread was growing in St. Louis and providing sewing classes to refugees, immigrants and others in need of such a job skill. Zaimi, who knew nothing of threading needles and taking measurements, enrolled in the organization’s program.

“When I met Collective Thread, it was a big opportunity for me,” Zaimi says. Last October, she accepted a job with The Collective Thread as a seamstress, and in January of this year, she was promoted to floor manager in training.

“People are helpful, and the atmosphere is so nice,” Zaimi says. “You feel that you are with your family; you work with your family.”

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