This new charitable initiative by migrant women gives your old clothes new life

With the same care and consideration used by seamstresses around the world, Kohna Zari Ko began as a venture with heart — founded with a vision to help migrant women develop meaningful, rewarding careers in New Zealand. Building on the skills of some and sharing them with many, this new endeavour focuses on sustainability by giving new life to old clothes and fabric.

The Philosophy
Translating to ‘turning old to gold’, Kohna Zari Ko seeks to provide valid work opportunities and new skills to migrant women in New Zealand. Using the reach of an online platform, the initiative brings together migrant women who have experience in sewing or an interest in tailoring, who are commissioned projects by individuals seeking some help with their clothes. This could be anything from basic mending and alterations (on pieces that would otherwise be discarded) to tailoring or bespoke works. In doing so, the collective helps to tackle issues of isolation and employment that migrant women face, alongside taking steps to combat fashion’s great sustainability problem.

Who Are They
Kohna Zari Ko is an initiative driven by the same women it serves. Led by the Migrant Women’s Group and the New Settlers Family and Community Trust (NFACT), Kohna Zari Ko is an endeavour that keeps migrant women at the heart of its values and business model. Dr Fahima Saeid established Kohna Zari Ko as a social enterprise project built on an already-existing circle of women who had spent several years crafting together. The group continuously welcomes new women into the fold to grow their impact while developing members’ skills and empowering women arriving in New Zealand to build friendships, connections and valuable careers in the community. 

What They Do
With a considered emphasis on renewable and sustainable fashion (as many of the women working have experienced the industry’s devastating effects in its current iteration), Kohna Zari Ko allows anyone to commission projects in the sewing and tailoring field. The streamlined online platform connects those seeking support with experienced tailors and seamstresses who can offer simple hemming, clothing repairs, and more adventurous projects. Additionally, as a way of safely interacting with the community, the collective has been hosting pop-up mending events — at which their skilled members will bring your beloved garments back to life in front of your eyes.

How To Get Involved
Kohna Zari Ko has made it as simple as possible to get involved and support the initiative while gaining something for yourself. Commissioning a project can be done by anyone via the website. Items can be dropped at any designated drop-off location, so your repair and refurbishing work can be completed with care. Not only will this extend the life of your favourite wardrobe pieces, but will support the wellbeing of those who have given up so much to be here and to make a better life for themselves. 

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