Meet Malikah from Afghanistan
As many of you know I was able to pay my mom and dad a visit in Houston this past weekend. In fact, as I write this I am sitting at the airport waiting on my very delayed flight. There were many wonderful things about this weekend. First and foremost, I was infinitely grateful to my parents for making it possible for me to come visit Mom while she is still recovering from surgery. We hung out, cooked, shopped, and indulged in Mom's very first official spa day. Two of my four days in Houston, however, we did spend the afternoon at the Threads by Nomad headquarters. There was a lot of work to do in a short period of time. In addition to solidifying our summer collection coming out in a couple of weeks and starting on our third collection in earnest, making connections and building relationships was my most important objective.
I finally met Hayder in person. (If you don't know, he is our head tailor and works every day in the studio with Mom.) I met Atia, our embroiderer, as well as her oldest and youngest daughters, the latter of whom I snuggled for the better part of an afternoon. I also met Malikah when she paid our studio a visit to "try out" for doll-making. To say I was enamored is an understatement. She is lovely in spirit and in style. A master at mixing prints (just check out these photos!), she finished her first project quickly and well and I suspect if I lived in Houston we would be fast friends.
Malikah was born in Herat, Afghanistan. Her mom taught her to sew at the age of fifteen but she also picked up knitting and embroidery from friends. Malikah moved to the United States in November of 2016. She told us she had to move to the U.S. because her life was in danger as a result of her husband's professional affiliations with the American government--a story we hear often in working with refugees from Afghanistan. We asked for approval to tell our customers and she agreed, saying that that was reality and she wants people to know what really happens. Malikah now lives in Houston with her three children--two girls and one boy--and her husband. They moved to Houston because it was more affordable than other parts of the country and this is where Malikah's sister-in-law had moved her family three years earlier. Malikah is going to start out by helping us make our dolls, which have become a steady source of income for Threads and for which the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
We hope, however, that with a background in business administration and strong English skills Threads by Nomad will be able to one day hire her full-time to help Mom manage the day-to-day responsibilities of our small business. In fact, Malikah earned a certificate from the American University of Afghanistan's business administration program for women, a program she explains that was started by First Lady Barbara Bush. When asked what she wants Threads by Nomad customers to know about her, she responds, "I want them to know that I want to become a good businesswoman. Not a businessman, a businesswoman!"
Malikah is not yet sure what she thinks about living in the United States. It has been a big change, but she is happy she and her family are safe and her children will grow up in a stable and safe environment. She misses Afghanistan though. In fact, she specified that she misses these things in this order--her family, her country, and her friends.
Refugees like Malikah have so much to bring to the table. Many of them are well educated and eager to contribute to their new community and country in a meaningful way. This is part of our mission. To not only celebrate women like Malikah, but to give them a job and to recognize publicly that we support them and believe in them. Now, when you buy a doll or any other product we make, you are contributing to Malikah's livelihood as well as helping her reach her goal of becoming a good businesswoman! And you can do that right here.