For three years Zeina Abou Chaaban, then a logistics planner for Procter & Gamble in Dubai, nurtured her idea for a social enterprise that would combine fashion and heritage.
Finally in 2009 she visited Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut, her first brush with refugee life, to pursue her goal of finding women who could embroider.
"100,000 people were living in one square metre, almost on top of each other," Ms Abou Chaaban recalls.
"The infrastructure was very poor; it was the same for water, electricity, garbage collection and there were no job opportunities."
Despite the harsh living conditions, she found the women she needed, and with their help launched a social fashion house called Palestyle.
It employs Palestinian refugee women to produce handbags, dresses and abayas, investing five per cent of its total sales into development projects for Palestinians.
For the 100 women in Jordan and Lebanon whom the fashion house has employed, the project has been a boost to their incomes and their national pride.
"They were proud to keep their heritage alive, and it was a job of course," says Ms Abou Chaaban, a Palestinian who grew up in Dubai.
The 30-year-old and her brother Ahmed, 25, who joined her in 2011, design the products and choose the colours of the thread.
The refugee women then trace patterns in cross-stitch, the signature Palestinian embroidery style, on chiffon and ship them to Palestyle.
What makes embroidery unique, says Ms Abou Chaaban, is that it speaks the language of a culture.
A prevalence of red threads in a piece means the embroiderer is a married woman; intricacy in details might point to a well-off woman, pictures of pines and rivers talk of the fertile northern regions of the Palestinian territories, and tents point to the drier south.
In 2010, Palestyle moved to incorporate women in the Al Baqa'a refugee camp because of the richer embroidery tradition among the women there. The camp on the outskirts of Amman is Jordan's largest, with more than 104,000 refugees.
At any one time, Palestyle employs 10 to 20 women (most are middle-aged, the youngest is 31), depending on the type and number of products needed.
This year, the product range will expand to home decor, such as pillow covers, wall hangings and menswear. There are hopes to employ more people.
With plans to expand across the Arabian Gulf, Pakistan and even the United Kingdom, Ms Abou Chaaban knows that mentors are valuable in the lifespan of a small enterprise.
"When it comes to operations and finance to make it sustainable, this is where small companies need support," she says.
How Palestyle helps the community has been measured by Consult and Coach for a Cause, or C3, a social enterprise that helps similar ventures maximise their effect on the community.
"Using social impact measurement is a must for young companies as it is the best way to differentiate themselves and to know if they are changing things via their activities, whether positively or negatively," says C3's founder and chief executive, Medea Nocentini.
In 2011, Palestyle helped plant 244 olive trees in the West Bank in association with the Arab Group for the Protection of Nature. According to C3's assessment, that led to a cumulative increase in monthly income of Dh1,250 for the olive farmers.
Palestyle's second project - replacing and repairing water tanks at the Al Baqa'a camp, where the average family size is eight - began last October.
So far 100 families have new tanks and the pumping station for three schools has been changed, easing life for students who previously had to leave the classroom to use a toilet outside the school premises.
For a company that started out with just Dh50,000 as an initial investment, it is an uplifting start. The fashion house, which sells its products in five Dubai stores including Bloomingdales, O' De Rose and S*uce, broke even last year.