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Syrian refugee now a proud owner of a luxury sneakers brand in France

LILLE, France: A Syrian refugee has now started his own brand of luxury sneakers which caters to the elite of Paris and Hollywood.

When Daniel Essa fled Syria in 2014, he had no feasible prospects and faced an uncertain future ahead of him. He came to settle down in France as a refugee and has little knowledge of its culture and language.

The 30-year-old studied fashion in Damascus but abandoned hopes of a career in his homeland and fled the war to settle in Lille, near the Belgian border.

Now as the owner of a booming business his simple yet chic leather sneakers with elegant and innovative designing sells at the price of $390 for a pair.

Many acclaimed Hollywood and Parisian Actors are already known to be his customers. Actress Whoopi Goldberg after spotting his pair of sneakers on a friend’s feet immediately inquired about the designer and now own quite a number of pairs.

Issa has a classy designed boutique where his exclusive collection stocks 28 styles of shoes.

His first shop opens in the next two weeks. The shoes are already on sale in Beverly Hills, Paris and Ajaccio, Corsica.

He said that fashion was not something his parents understood and that he had to convince them that it’s not just for girls.

“Apart from my grandmother who taught me how to sew the rest of my family was against it because it wasn’t a man’s job, it was a woman’s job. So it was our little secret between my grandmother and me, doing it behind my family’s back,” he said.

It was a tough decision to leave Damascus, which, unlike his hometown of Homs, had escaped the worst of the fighting, especially as Essa had already set up a workshop and shop in the capital.

“We saw that the war had started to reach Damascus. There were attacks almost every day and I saw my friends and many families starting to leave one after the other – of course, the lucky ones, those who could afford to go.” He has not seen his family since he fled.

Each pair of Daniel Essa shoes is etched with a word under the tongue: “Freedom”, “Kisses”, or “Peace”.

“Everybody talks about world peace, but I really hope that one day we will have peace in our world,” Essa said.

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