Today we’d like to introduce you to Amrita Thadani.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Growing up in India, hand embroidery was an art I saw daily at home in my mum’s beautiful saris. Learning hand embroidery from my mum is one of my oldest memories of my time with her. Also, having worked in Costume Design for films and commercials for a long time, I had a lot of opportunities to work with many local artists from different regions and with a wide variety of embroidery techniques.
After graduating from Parsons, The New School of Design, NY I continued working as an assistant stylist in Los Angeles. During the weekends I volunteered as part of a resettlement program working with women refugees. Over time, through their stories and interacting with these women, I realized that they all needed a job. Not only were they displaced but almost all of them were between the age of 45 and 65 with kids and grandkids wading through life depending on food stamps and government support.
I decided to use my experience as an entrepreneur to figure out a way to make a difference. Culturally they were all familiar with hand embroidery so within a few months of training them we developed the artwork and some samples to share amongst friends. The reaction we got was positive and, people loved the artwork and the message we carried.
Today we work with eight women, 6 of whom work with us full time. Our mission is to help our team assimilate into society and gain financial independence working with us or use us as a platform to further achieve their aspirations.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I would be lying if I said it had been smooth sailing. Like any new start-up, we have hit many speed bumps. As a company that works predominantly with women refugees who do not speak the language nor have a means for transport, managing the logistics hasn’t been the easiest.We work out the logistics for each individual to overcome challenges like transportation, hours, skill level, language, and inhibitions.
In today’s world where there are so many brands, we need to be more conscious of the way we shop, and we are seeing a gradual shift. Neococo has been fortunate to collaborate with pop-up platforms that create a conscious retail experience.
More sales for us means more employment opportunities for women in need. As a mission first company we do not ask for donations nor do we use charity as a marketing ploy. 100% of our revenue is directed back into the company to hire and assist more refugees. Creating awareness is the third hurdle we are working to overcome.
Being a 100% mission-driven brand, we have to be very careful about the marketing investments we make. Hence getting the word out has been a daily struggle. Instagram has been an awesome tool and we are working at making our content stronger. We have also recently revamped our website and are in the process of getting our blog up with regular content flow.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about NEOCOCO – what should we know?
100% of our revenue is directed back into the company to hire and assist more refugees. We work in a small team because it’s important for us to help families assimilate and meet their personal and financial goals by allowing them to use us as a platform.
We go beyond just giving these women employment or a way to earn money. We want to be a part of the solution, and hence we work hard at building relationships with each and every Neococo woman. 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, the artwork on every t-shirt is symbolic of women expressing freedom-transcending issues of conflict, abuse and women’s rights. Hand embroidery is an art that is therapeutic which helps them heal so its the perfect tool.
We collaborate with different companies to create workshops so that the Neococo women can be introduced to different businesses giving them the opportunity to explore and maybe find that career they desire. We help them save for an opportunity they are passionate about as well. Sometimes they want to save up to take part-time classes to learn English and others could be saving to get something for their homes. This Christmas we are working with one such Neococo woman who has been saving up to meet her children after three years. We are proud of her efforts and are looking forward to this special moment.
For us at Neococo we are building a community of phoenixes rising from the ashes and our T-shirts are like messengers carrying our mission forward.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Hard work and keeping it real. I started NEOCOCO with an intention to help create jobs for women refugees entering the United States overwhelmed with circumstances and an unpredictable future. As an immigrant myself, I feel that the success of a community is reflected by the success of the people living in it.
- T-shirts – $75 to $95
- Sweatshirts – $95-$110
- Address: 3854 Beethoven street. Los Angeles. CA 90066
- Website: www.neococo.com
- Phone: 316-737-7585
- Email: MAIL@NEOCOCO.COM
- Instagram: @neococo_tribe
- Facebook: neococo
Photographer : Sophie Kuller/Instagram : @sophkuller
Model : River Johnson/Instagram : @river.magick
Model : Jasmine Candias /Instagram : @jasminecandiass