Helping Immigrants Integrate into the US Economy & Society

Ali Kathem, dressed in slacks and jacket of his own design and production, is excited to bring his creative vision to the U.S.

Growing up in Baghdad, Ali has always been fascinated by the fashion industry. His family owned a manufacturing facility that produced clothing for several major labels, and he always assumed he would take over the family business one day. Focused on gentleman’s fashion, Ali studied design in Istanbul and Lebanon before returning home to Iraq in the early 2000’s; right into the chaos that was Operation Iraqi Freedom.

After aiding U.S. armed forces, Ali’s family was the victim of retaliation by Iraqi insurgents, and he was forced to flee the city. He spent two years in a Turkish refugee camp before receiving a refugee visa to immigrate to the United States. Ali was determined to land on his feet, and while working as a tailor at a men’s clothing retailer, he studied English and prepared for the citizenship exam which he took and passed on the first day that he was eligible in 2015.

Fortunately, thanks to the generosity of the Gheens Foundation, the Navigate Enterprise Center could work with Ali when he came looking for a business loan in 2016. Navigate staff helped Ali with branding his designs and establishing his first online store and website, as well as purchasing a sewing machine that can work the leathers that are the backbone of the Ali K. line. We are excited for Ali’s prospects for growth in 2017 as his online market continues to expand, and he begins looking for retail space within the city.

You can see all of Ali’s wonderful designs and connect with him for custom orders online at

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