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Zahra's story

by Workshop Team |

This blog is written by Nisa's newest employee, Zahra ❤️

Hi, my name is Zahra. I’m from Afghanistan. My family and I moved to New Zealand when I was 14 years old.  I came here with my mum, my dad and five of my siblings (we’re a big family and I love it - it’s like living with your friends).

When I arrived I started at a high school called Onslow College.  I didn’t know ANY English, other than how to say ‘yes’. It took 6 months to properly talk to people around me because I was afraid of making mistakes.  But I had one lovely ESOL teacher who was super encouraging, reminding me that it was my second language and that I know a whole different language already (Farsi). 

One of the first things I noticed was how few people there are in this country! I asked my brother if everybody was on holiday 😆  I was used to seeing so many people on the streets and always having noise around me.

I finished high school and went into work.  One of my first jobs was working at a petrol station.  I had sole charge, and at times it was a bit scary.  It was really far away from the nearest suburb, and there was no shops around - just the service station.  I had to close up at 10pm, so it’s a long time by yourself.  

I was really proud of myself - it’s really important to me to be positive about everything I do. My mum always said if you want to move forward, forget the negative and focus on the positive.  

I worked as a beauty adviser at Farmers for a few years.  I loved that experience - every day was surrounded by make up and people who went on to become close friends.  You have to know about every product, and there are thousands of products! So you had to hold a lot of information in your mind.

About 2 months ago Lynne got in touch with me from Red Cross about a role at Nisa.  I’d never heard about them before, but when I started to research them I was amazed by their imagery.  Using normal women to model was so inspiring - it really felt like celebrating real women, rather than holding up an impossible beauty standard like most brands do.

My first few weeks on the job have been so great - I do dispatch and look after customer service.  In my experience in customer service, I’m used to dealing with grumpy customers, but at Nisa these customers seem magically to not exist.  It’s crazy that everyone is so nice!  Everyone in the team is also very supportive of each other.  It feels like a family as the team is small and everybody gets along really well.  

It’s different from other workplaces, even just in the knowledge that the lingerie is made right here by happy people, which I think somehow is extra important given that we wear lingerie so close to the skin.

I think Nisa is also special because of its focus on helping women from refugee backgrounds.  In the Afghan community a lot of people talk about how few job opportunities there are, and women (along with slightly older people) especially struggle.  I hope that Nisa will continue to grow and be able to take on more staff one day soon!



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