OAK Creative Designs currently works with 53 exceptional women who are the backbone of our company. Not only do these women create our beautiful designs, but they also exemplify the qualities that our company values.
Here are a few stories of the inspiring artisans of OAK Creative Designs
When refugee families leave their homes, they are unable to bring most of their physically possessions. What they do bring, however, are skills and talents that enrich the society in which they settle.
Nour grew up on a beautiful farm in Aleppo which consisted of over 500 olive trees and many crops and animals. When the war in Syria began, her family’s farm was destroyed, and they were forced to move to another village. When the situation got even worse, they were forced to leave Syria and come to Turkey.
When Nour and her family arrived in Turkey in 2014, they moved to the city of Kayseri. She and her family moved to the Osmanli neighbourhood in Kayseri where the Oak Studio is located. Over the years, our team has had the opportunity to build a beautiful relationship with her and her family.
Nour comes from a family of very talented seamstresses. Nour herself has this skill, which she wanted to further improve by sewing professionally. This past year, Nour took part in a training program organized by the Kayseri Public Training Centre. She successfully completed this course and obtained an internationally recognized certificate in sewing issued by UNHCR. Coincidently, this is also the time that our company received a grant to purchase sewing machines for our Studio. When the opportunity to expand into sewing came up for us, we all knew right away that Nour would be the person whom we would ask to help us develop our sewing program.
Over the past few months, Nour has been busy experimenting with some exciting new sewing projects that we cannot wait to share with you.
We are honoured to have Nour as part of our team and look forward to growing with her.
Raising children and helping them become successful academically is a challenging task for any family. Refugee families, however, face many additional social, financial and language barriers while trying to navigate the education system in their new homes. Helping their children not only succeed in school, but also enter university, is a true testament of resilience and hard work.
An example of a woman who exemplifies these traits is one of our group leaders, Amal. Originally from Aleppo, her family had to escape to Kayseri, Turkey in 2015 due to the war in Syria. Amal is a mother of 5 children – 3 of whom are studying at University. One of her daughters is also currently studying medicine in Gaziantep, Turkey.
Amal has been part of the OAK Creative Designs team for the past 4 years. She teaches and manages 13 women in our team. Amal is also one of our most skilled artisans. She has been the creative force behind designing some of our unique playsets and dolls.
Leaving one’s homeland is not an easy decision for anyone. When a family decides to leave everything that they are familiar with and enter a foreign land, it requires sacrifice and determination.
In 2016, Sana was forced to flee Aleppo, Syria and come to Turkey.
She chose the city of Kayseri in hopes of finding employment and educational opportunities for her family.
It is in Kayseri that Sana learned about crochet courses being offered by OAK Creative Designs. She not only learned how to crochet, but also became part of a community that values and supports her.
Being part of the OAK Creative Designs team has not only improved her family's quality of life, but has also given her a way to express her creativity. Sana is a mother of 6 children – 3 of whom are currently studying in university. She is an inspiration not only for her children, but for our entire team.
Refugee families face many barriers when it comes to gaining employment in their new homes. Along with managing their households, many dedicated mothers often become the sole breadwinners of their families.
Before coming to Turkey, Gaysa lived in the suburbs of Damascus in Northern Ghouta. It is here that her family lived a normal and comfortable life. Her husband was a manager at a company and Gaysa was a stay-at-home mother. When the war started, her husband received serious leg injuries after a bomb explosion at his work. This resulted in him having to stay in the hospital for one month and received therapy for 3 months. Soon afterwards, in the 2015, Gaysa family sold everything and came to Turkey. Unfortunately, weeks after arriving in Turkey, they were robbed and lost all the life savings that they had come with. Her husband has not been able to find work due to the scarce job market and health problems. As a result, Gaysa has become the sole breadwinner of her family.
Four years ago, she joined the OAK Creative Designs team and currently works as a team leader where she manages and teaches a group of 12 women. In Syria, Gaysa had learnt very basic crocheting. Through self-teaching and with the help of courses offered by OAK Creative Designs, Gaysa not only learned how to make advanced crochet dolls and toys but has excelled in her craft. She has perfected the designs of many of our products and works with other team leaders to develop new products such as our new Ertugrul doll and horse set.
She is described by her co-workers as a creative and hard-working person who shows excellence in everything that she does.
For many refugee families, acquiring a safe and supportive community is an immense challenge. Oak Creative Designs strives to provide this much needed community support to our artisans and their families.
Ayah grew up in Aleppo, Syria where she was a primary school teacher and her husband was a truck driver.
In 2013, Ayah and her family had to leave everything behind and come to Turkey due to the war. The initial neighborhood that her family moved into was not very safe or welcoming to them. One day, Ayah's husband was attacked by local men. In this attack, his hand was severed. Until this day, he has not regained proper function in his hand from that attack. Ayah's family reported this incident to the police and were threatened by their attackers. Out of fear of retaliation, they had to leave their neighbourhood and move somewhere else.
Fortunately, the neighbourhood that they chose to move to is the Osmanli neighbourhood in Kayseri – the neighbourhood where the Oak Creative Designs Studio is located. Through word-of-mouth, Ayah found out about our company and has been part of our family since 2017. Over the years, she has grown her skills together with our team and crafted some truly unique crochet products such as the newly released Sitti’s Olive Trees dolls.
Ayah also recently had a baby. Being able to work from home allows Ayah to create beautiful products in the comfort of her home while still being present to care for her 6 children. Ayah is an integral part of our Oak Creative Designs family. Her warm nature and creativity bring true strength to our team.
Here is the inspiring story of Hanan, one of the extraordinary artisans who has become an integral part of our team
Hanan's journey is a testament to the strength and resilience that refugee women embody. Overcoming significant challenges, she has harnessed her artistic talent to not only express her unique cultural heritage but also find solace and connection in her craft.
Success is amazing, especially in the most difficult times.
My name is Hanan. When I was a child, one of my hobbies was crochet. The war started when I was in my third year of university. I was studying and going for exams under the sound of bullets.
Alhamdulillah, I graduated and got a degree in accounting. I registered for a master's degree but I couldn't finish it because I moved to another city where there was no university.
I worked as a teacher and then I got married. My husband has a degree in business administration. He was working as a math teacher. The war got worse so we decided to go to Türkiye in 2014. It was difficult to find a job with our certificates because we didn't speak Turkish. That's why I decided to look for another job to help my husband.
My friend told me that there was a company that sells crochet items. Fortunately for me, I had been working on my hobby since 2016 and worked on many products. With the help of my wonderful group leader and teacher Amal, I have become one of the most skilled artisans in the company. It gives me great pride to be a successful mother of three children.
I am very grateful to the OAK team because they have created work for women to help their families and show their handicrafts products at international conventions. In addition to this, this company provides a family atmosphere that we missed by being away from our families. I will always be proud to be part of the OAK family.
More stories coming soon...