Own Your (Refugee Led) Business Story: Khoyoot
Our “Own Your Story” series continues!
Beginning September 1st, Sitti is featuring nine incredible refugee-focused brands through our on-going blog series. (You can find previous articles in this series, including nine amazing Women-Owned Business stories, here!) The “Own Your Story” series elevates the stories of partner brands featured in the Sitti Subscription Box.
Each quarter, we get to know the brands in our box, while gleaning priceless lessons and advice from their shared experiences. We talk about where the idea for their brand came from, and what’s made their journey unique. Our second box is all about refugee-led brands, as well as those making a direct impact within the refugee community. To learn more about our Subscription Box, click here.
Baqa’a Refugee Camp is the largest refugee camp in Jordan. Ranked second of the ten camps in unemployment, and third in overall poverty, the need for social change became the driving force behind the launch of Khoyoot.
Founded in 2016 by Basma Nazer, Khoyoot sells embroidery products handmade by women in Baqa’a Refugee Camp. This unique business provides social, economic, and cultural empowerment to women through employment opportunities. With longstanding social issues of poverty, early marriage, lack of education, and the stigma around women in the workforce, Basma wanted to rewrite the narrative and give women and girls a more promising future.
With their beautifully crafted tote bags, Khoyoot preserves the Palestinian culture of embroidery and art. In addition to tote bags, they also offer introductory embroidery kits for children to learn the basics and encourage them to develop new skills to help them enter the workforce in the future. Recently, they launched a threading initiative that distributes school bags for children at the camp with the purchase of every embroidered tote bag. We spoke to Basma to learn about her journey and how working directly with refugees on the ground has been an incredibly rewarding experience.
Where are you based and what do you sell?
We are based in Jordan and we sell embroidery products done by women in Baqa'a Refugee Camp
What is your brand's purpose/mission?
- We aim to enhance economic empowerment for women
- Improve the well-being of women by making them work from the comfort of the camp
- Postpone marriage age in the camp
- Help the women economically, socially, and culturally
- Create a dialogue between children from different classes and backgrounds
- Enable an environment for tolerance and acceptance and cohabitation in healthy livelihoods
What makes your brand unique?
All our products are made with love and passion by the women in Baqa'a Refugee Camp. We not only provide economic, social, and cultural empowerment for the women but we also help solve major issues in the camp like early marriage, limited mobility, education, poverty, and more. Every product line we sell helps to solve a major issue in the camp
When did this organization start? How was this organization started?
- I started after many years of working with refugee women and always believing that there is more that can be done. We need the women and community in the camp to help solve their own problems and empower women and girls to do more for their communities.
Tell us a story in your own words that speaks the truth about the experience of being a refugee-focused or refugee-owned business.
For us, the hardest so far is the mind of the male figure in the house. We usually set courses for 30 women and end up with 4 to 5 coming only. It has been so hard to change the ways they think. After seeing some girls working from home and some women getting income to help their families many of these changes. We are not changing the whole community but we are doing change in many neighborhoods and many dads are sending their girls for the course and work. The change the girls are going through is amazing.
In a 2-3 sentences explain how your company impacts the refugee community.
When we started Khoyoot our first collection was Kashkashet Biladi. Almost 80% of the women and girls were homebound girls and women with limited mobility. It was extremely hard to go around homes and collect the items. We were happy in the end as we were able to turn the women and girls from a financial burden to their families into a financial source of income. More than one girl was also able to find a job outside the camp and this was a great achievement as many were home for more than 5 years.
What is a recent exciting success?
The ABC of Embroidery has been the best product last year.
What inspired the brand? Is there a story behind it?
I started Khoyoot after working with women in the camp for a couple of years on an embroidery project. I also volunteered for many years with donation groups. I always thought that there is more that we can give. Empowering women and girls to work is always better than offering donations a couple of times a year. We want to keep on producing product lines that will always give back to the community.
What other refugee-focused brands do you admire? Why?
Sunbula from Palestine as they have high-quality embroidery
What is the best advice you have for someone who is trying to start their own business? Or what is one piece of advice that YOU were given and that still holds true today?
It has been so hard and it is always hard but the happiness you see from the women and from the customer will always brighten your day and give you a boost to keep on going
Write down anything else you would like us to mention about your brand!
We are now working on the back-to-school campaign
Thank you Khoyoot for sharing your story!
To show your support for Khoyoot, follow them on Instagram or khoyoot.org
The Sitti Box is a quarterly box packed with value and impact, delivered directly to your door. Each quarterly box highlights the stories and impact of the products inside.
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