Holy Cross Student Entrepreneur Works with Local Refugees to Create Ties, Opportunity

Worcester Telegram & Gazette
December 7th, 2017 by 

Riley Benner
Riley Benner '19, founder of Phoenix Haberdashery, which employs Syrian refugees to craft reversible neckties.

A deluxe reversible tie cut, sewn, folded and packaged here in Worcester.
A deluxe reversible tie cut, sewn, folded and packaged here in Worcester.

After fleeing his home in Aleppo and making his way to the United States with his family, Edris Omar now works with Riley Benner making neckties for Phoenix Haberdashery
After fleeing his home in Aleppo and making his way to the United States with his family, Edris Omar now works with Riley Benner making neckties for Phoenix Haberdashery

Finding work as a refugee in a new country can be daunting. After an impactful Montserrat class, Riley Benner ’20, a political science and philosophy double major, rekindled a company he started as a 15-year-old in Rochester,  Phoenix Haberdashery, and is working with refugees living in Worcester to create  fashionable neckwear that’s not only stylish, but helps newly-arrived families start to build a new life.

“I decided on the name Phoenix Haberdashery the day I went to the resettlement center in Rochester,” Riley told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. “Haberdashery is a maker of accessories, and the logo of the phoenix rising from the ashes and starting a new life, that is my hope for our sewers – to start a new life, rising out of the ashes of war. That is the heart of our mission.”

Riley’s head tailor, Edris Omar, escaped Syria’s civil war and came to the United States with his family last year hoping for a new start, and he found it.

“I am happy,” Omar said. “I live with my three kids and my wife and I work with Riley to make ties.”

Read the full piece by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

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