The first time I met Atia, I would have described her as quiet, shy. She relied almost entirely on her teenage daughter to translate for her, uncomfortable with the limited English skills she had acquired. I did what I learned to do a long time ago when I am not able to connect with a woman due to language barriers: I doted on her children. That is a love language every mother understands. I cooed over her newborn, chatted with her teenager, and told Atia over and over what a beautiful family she had. It would be two years before I would see her again.
Atia works for Threads on a contracting basis from home, so that she can have a second job at Pizza Hut and take care of her growing family. She stops by the studio from time to time to bring Mom her finished embroidered labels and the projects we assign her, but I am not often in Houston and when I have been Atia and I have not been able to connect in person.
So, it came as quite a wonderful surprise this past March when we got to hang out at the studio and Atia was not the shy, reserved person I remembered. She embraced me immediately upon walking into the studio, with exclamations of how happy she was to see me...all in English! In fact, she refused to have her daughter speak for her, no matter how many tries it took for her to get her point across. She was funny, talkative, eager to catch up, and LOVED being on camera for the first time during the filming of our brand video. In fact, I found myself with little time to dote on her children, because Atia and I were enjoying each other's company so thoroughly.
Later that week, at a networking meeting, we were asked to share what we were most proud of having accomplished through our businesses. I told the women at my table about the incredible difference between the Atia I met two years ago and the Atia I know now. Now, let me be clear: I did not accomplish Atia's transformation. Threads by Nomad cannot take credit for Atia's progress. Atia has worked hard to learn English, and she has put herself out there regardless of the inevitable challenges. But it was important to Atia to earn a living wage, to have the opportunity to be creative and share her talents, and to engage with Americans who value and love her. It was an absolute joy, honor, and gift to witness her come into her own.
Here's Mom's interview with Atia, catching up on what has changed since she started working at Threads.
Nell: How long have you worked for Threads by Nomad?
Atia: For three years.
N: What do you like best about your work?
A: I like to embroidery.
N: Where are your children now?
A: Yahya is 23 and works at an office downtown as a receptionist. Mahla is 20 and is working in Katy with a dentist. Shahla is 16 and is on summer break from school. She is going to 11th grade. Mastureh is 14 and is going to 10th grade. Omid is 11 and is going to 6th grade. Aida is 2! I had her after we moved here.
N: Do you live in the same place?
A: I have moved to a bigger apartment after Hurricane Harvey.
N: What dreams do you have for your future?
A: I want my sons to become engineers. I want my daughters to become doctors.
N: What new things are you doing?
A: I am working in the Pizza Hut. I can drive now. I have my own car now. And I am learning English.
N: Anything else you want to say?
A: I really like my life here. I am happy because my children are studying. My husband is working. This has been a very good place for us.