Her Story : Meet Ibtisam
After escaping Iraq in 2013, Ibtisam and her family fled to Turkey. For 3 years she worked hard in a restaurant while her eldest son, then 18 years old, worked in construction. Both did whatever they could to support their family while they waited to be granted asylum to the United States.
Meet Our Team
At NEOCOCO, we are a mission first brand. We believe in the strength and beauty of all womxnkind. Our designs aim to showcase the essence of strength in femininity, and how it exists in many forms. Most importantly we aim to serve as a brand that you can believe in - where every dollar spent has meaning.
Since we began in 2017, NEOCOCO has become a mighty group of women behind our hand embroidered designs. Each woman who embroiders our product is trained and supported by NEOCOCO. Our team supports each other as they navigate the challenges of living as a refugee in the US, and take pride in their creative work.
We love our team so much, and want to share their impactful stories with you.
Her story: Ibtisam
After escaping Iraq in 2013, Ibtisam and her family fled to Turkey. For 3 years she worked hard in a restaurant while her eldest son, then 18 years old, worked in construction. Both did whatever they could to support their family while they waited to be granted asylum to the United States. Then in 2016, they were finally able to with the help of the International Rescue Committee (IRC).
Ibtisam describes her fondest memories of life in Iraq as sunny skies and green grass surrounded by a community of welcoming people. Growing up she was lovingly encouraged by her family to gain an education, and eventually went on to study at university. Soon after, she started a family and enjoyed a peaceful life.
Until, war began in the 80’s and political unrest and pressure from foreign agents created what she calls “a mess, it tore my country apart”. It seemed like the life she once knew in Iraq was no longer there. The grasses were no longer green. Her biggest worries were for her children. Some days if they had to leave the house even for a quick moment, she would fear that they might not come back. Iraqi families were losing their young children to what seemed like endless violence without reason. The water turned cloudy and resources began to dwindle. Ibtisam knew they had to leave. How could she raise her children in a place like this? Like many other families, they fled the country to seek asylum and to start a new life. She knew she needed to find a way to give her sons the life they deserved, so she travelled to Turkey to seek asylum.
When looking back, she chooses to remember the beauty of her time growing up in Iraq, and tells her boys stories of love and light.
Ibtisam has now been in the United States for 5 years, and with Neococo for 2 of them. We first met her through the International Rescue Committee, and have treasured her kindness and creativity as an integral part of our Neococo team since she started.
Ibtisam describes her experience working with Neococo as life-changing. Since she began working with us, wage security has allowed her to go from living in a studio apartment with her two sons to renting her own space and working from home. Hand embroidery is a skill she that she has been familiar with since childhood, so getting back into it "felt therapeutic", she loves the ability to be creative and work with her hands. When she sees people wear a Neococo T-shirt, she says it gives her "the biggest smile."
Through our forward integration model, Ibtisam is a beautiful example of women supporting women, empowering each other through Neococo’s growth structure. After just a few years Ibtisam is now part of training new hires, and communicating with them to understand their unique situation and needs. We are so proud to see her training new team members, who have gone through a similar experience. Through her natural warmth and compassion, she brings our team closer together. Her guidance offers the feeling of safety and community to a new arrival, and her creativity inspires others as we grow. The ability for a new refugee womxn to be trained by someone who has been through the same experience creates a deeply impactful connection.
Even though she misses the place she grew up in, she knows America is her home now because it has provided her and her children safety. Her memories of her childhood remain etched in her memory, however she knows that the new reality of her home means that she likely will not go back.
There is a depth to the issue of the refugee crisis, displaced and oppressed womxn, that we will never be able to fix alone. But, together as a community, we can create a platform for women that makes a difference.
Even though this past year has been unpredictable, we saw more and more people supporting our mission, eager to learn. We have big goals for 2021 and you can help us accomplish them.
By shopping at Neococo, you can help us support more womxn.