A new Lake Street boutique combines modernity and modesty.
“Everything in here is designed by me and my friends,” said co-owner Sumeya Ahmed, who is opening the store with Balqiis Hersi and Hersi’s brother Mohamed. “There is a lot of need for clothes like this. …We almost sold out of our winter collection.”
The shop carries dresses, jackets, handbags, accessories and Kasa shoes handmade in Ghana. Mohamed, an artist and painter, has developed a clothing line for men called Original Royal Refugee.
“We’re all refugees,” said Ahmed, who lived in Dubai after war broke out in Somalia. “We all came from somewhere.”
Balqiis was about three years old when her family fled Somalia to live in New Delhi. Her family lost touch with their father for 12 years while he remained in the country.
“My mom is one strong woman,” she said.
Her mother runs a store at the nearby Somali mall, where Balqiis helps design the clothing. They recently returned from a work trip to China.
“I have seven sisters and two brothers, and I was the only one who was interested in clothing,” she said.
The new shop is named for her “little fashionista” niece, whose nickname is Zizi.
“She always came to my closet and said, ‘I like your shop,’” she said.
The store opened in December, and Ahmed said they’ve found the right location at 315 W. Lake St.
“We have the Somali community, and we have Uptown,” Ahmed said. “This location is really perfect for our idea. … Anybody can walk in.”