Her Story

Meet the team

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Amrita Thadani

Born and raised in India, family hardships required me to spend my childhood in boarding school since the age of 6, ironically the best years of my life. We all came from different backgrounds and religions. Facing our adversities together bonded us and made us stronger. Even today these women are my pillars of strength.

At 18, I started work as a fashion stylist at Elle-India. Over the years I continued working independently styling commercials, fashion features as well as films where I had the opportunity to work with the best textile designers, embroiderers and factories throughout the country.

In 2011, I graduated from Parson-The New School in NYC with a degree in Fashion Studies and an internship at EDUN. My background as a stylist allowed me to work in Los Angeles with artists such as Tracee Ellis Ross, Paula Patton, Norah Jones and Kylie Jenner. During this time, I was struck by the magnitude of the refugee crisis in the Middle East. I started working with organizations for refugees and homeless women trying to create opportunities for training and employment and started NEOCOCO in the fall of 2017.

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Jakllin Sakayan

Jakllin was born in Syria and grew up in a very tight knit community. Growing up she married within the community and lived in Syria with her husband and her sons. She owned her own restaurant and did very well for herself. She loved to bake cakes and breads and was known for the delicious cakes she made for friends and family during celebrations. On vacations they visited the United States and travelled extensively.

Things changed when the war hit Syria. After escaping the carnage, she moved to the United States and has moved from church to church. Soon she was introduced to The Armenian Church in DTLA which stabilized her life. She was given a room in a low income housing where she currently lives and is learning how to speak English. In January of 2018 Jakllin started working with NEOCOCO and we are proud of her efforts to better her life.

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Tae Saeki

Born and raised in Osaka, Tae Saeki led a sheltered childhood. Growing up sewing and home keeping was an integral part of her school curriculum. At 16 she started working as a  fitness trainer and nutritionist and soon realized that she was being paid 40% less than her male peers even after working longer hours and having more work experience. She moved to America to study Exercise Science and in the following years worked as a server and in management at a restaurant in West LA.

Today, a mother of a 6 yr old with high functioning autism, and a 3 yr old, Tae finds herself spending 12-15 hr’s per week shuffling between speech therapy, occupational therapy and school. Tae Saeki joined our team with the hope of having a flexible work schedule and she wants to support women who have led a sheltered life break barriers and stay true to their passion. 

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Talin Yaghoobian

Talin is an Iranian refugee living in Los Angeles, California with her 2 year old son, Dvin and husband. In Tehran she worked as an art teacher and chose to flee because of political and social unrest. She says, “Women in Iran are not free and are not treated as equal. I feel trapped in a country that treats men as demi gods and women as objects. I want my son to grow up learning that men and women are equal.“

In Los Angeles life is expensive and her husband is struggling between odd jobs. However she’s optimistic and eager to work.

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Magdelena was introduced to Neococo by the Downtown Women's Center. She spent 3 years living on the streets before she was provided permanent supportive housing at the Women's Center.

Crocheting keeps her out of trouble and she sells the products for a small fee at the Downtown Women’s Center cafe. She is determined to better her life and we love having her as part of our team.

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Sandra Arias

 Sandra was introduced to us through the DTWC-Los Angeles. Born and raised in Mexico Sandra says it was never easy for her growing up as transgender. She lived on the streets of LA for 2 years before being an active participant at the DTWC.

She is appreciative of the help through the center and the housing that they provide her. She wants to be financially independent and working with us allows her to take care of herself.

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Ibtisam Alshaty

Intisam was born and raised in Iraq. She fled Iraq in 2014 with her three teenage boys to Turkey. The United Nations considered their case and they were allowed admission into the US in 2016. For the 2 years in Turkey her sons had no education and since their move to the US she has had no job and we are happy to be able to help. She talks about leading a simple life without living in fear of losing her son and providing them with a well deserved education and future.