Every hand embroidered t-shirt is a representation of the woman who embroiders it, giving her back independence and dignity. Re-energizing the timeless craft of hand embroidery, every t-shirt is symbolic of women expressing freedom -transcending issues of conflict, abuse and women’s rights.
Before NEOCOCO, Amrita graduated from the Parsons School of Design, The New School, and worked as a Fashion Stylist for 15 years. She spent most of her weekends volunteering with resettlement organizations which immediately opened her eyes to the magnitude of the refugee crisis. While interacting with many displaced + refugee women, Amrita took the time to carefully listen to their stories surrounding oppression, women’s rights, racism, and sexism and understand their needs. She quickly learned that refugees still face massive challenges after receiving asylum — some of which include finding housing, overcoming language barriers, adjusting to a different culture, securing a job, surviving on food stamps, and using transportation. With hopes of making a positive difference, Amrita founded NEOCOCO in the fall of 2017. Starting a social impact company that empowers refugee women through community, femininity, and hand embroidery has allowed Amrita to combine her fashion experience with a cause that’s very close to her heart.
Sandra was introduced to us through the DTWC-Los Angeles. Born and raised in Mexico Sandra says it was never easy for her growing up as transgender. She lived on the streets of LA for 2 years before being an active participant at the DTWC. She is appreciative of the help through the center and the housing that they provide her. She wants to be financially independent and working with us allows her to take care of herself.
Ibtisam was born and raised in Iraq. She fled Iraq in 2014 with her three teenage boys to Turkey. The United Nations considered their case and they were allowed admission into the US in 2016. For the 2 years in Turkey her sons had no education and since their move to the US she has had no job and we are happy to be able to help. She talks about leading a simple life without living in fear of losing her son and providing them with a well deserved education and future.
We met Ines through the Program for Torture Victims. At home in Mexico, as a transgender woman she suffered much abuse at the hands of authorities. People ran her over with their car in an attempt to kill her. Here in the US, having received asylum, she is able to live her life as the person she truly is, but even here, she says, when you apply for work, if they see you are different, you don’t get the job. Without work and without money, Ines grew deeply depressed. Working for Neococo, she is accepted. She says, “I make my best effort to be productive. In the group, I chat and unburden myself.” The first time she received pay, Ines told us she’d never before held a check in her hands. She said, “I feel happy.”
Rosa fled El Salvador after suffering a violent attack by an MS-13 gang member and more threats against her and her children. When she left to seek asylum in the US, she only had enough money to bring one of her two beautiful sons with her. Today, her heart breaks and she asks God to forgive her for leaving one of the boys behind without protection. She has a job that pays very little and needs to earn extra money with Neococo so she can send for her son. She says, “When I remember all that happened, all the fears come back to me. When I am embroidering, I feel better. I can feel the sadness begin to go away.”
Magdelena was introduced to Neococo by the Downtown Women's Center. She spent 3 years living on the streets before she was provided permanent supportive housing at the Women's Center. Crocheting keeps her out of trouble and she sells the products for a small fee at the Downtown Women’s Center cafe. She is determined to better her life and we love having her as part of our team.
12 years ago, Miranda fled Honduras to seek safety in the US. As a transgender woman, she explains that life in Honduras was very difficult, as she was constantly subjected to societal discrimination. Since arriving in the US, Miranda has experienced so many positive changes in her life — including the sense of belonging she now feels every day as part of the NEOCOCO community. Miranda cherishes the opportunity to participate in various NEOCOCO projects and feels both grateful and proud to see LGBTQ+ inclusion growing within the industry every day. In addition to income support, Miranda values NEOCOCO’s devotion to creating exquisite products that honor femininity and empower women. Miranda feels that the detail + precision required to hand embroider each garment lend the unique ability to rebuild her self-confidence and remind her of her valued role in society.
Zarlasht Sakhi had barely gotten time to mourn her one-year-old toddler's sudden and unexplained death when Afghanistan fell to the Taliban in August of 2021. Having worked as an ally to the United State's mission in Afghanistan and already having received threats by the Taliban, Zarlasht knew her life was in danger. After braving tear gas, being assaulted by the Taliban, witnessing two men be shot execution style outside the airports, and standing for hours on her feet while she was pregnant, she bravely convinced the armed men outside the airport gates to let her through. With the help of her family and a U.S. Marine, she was evacuated on the very last plane out of Kabul. Zarlasht is now a single mom of a six month year old boy living in Los Angeles. Being the fighter that she is, she is working hard to pick up the pieces and build a new life here in the U.S. for her and her son.