I would like to share with you how Nevin Altmann went from being a single mother to the brand she has created today.
I’m going to introduce myself first, I am Tamara Altmann, Nevin’s daughter, and apart from her being an incredibly creative and inspiring person, it all really started with me :)
At about the age of three, she would take me to a friend's house for sleepovers and after the first night when she came to pick me up, I told her that I had missed “Nevin”. So before organizing another sleepover, she sat down and created her first ever doll called “Nevin” that looked just like her at the time: Ponytail, red lipstick and cute earrings.
When it was time to go again, she gave me the doll and told me: “There you go, this is Nevin, now you have me with you. Enjoy your time with your friends!" I had a fun day and night with my new doll, but when the time came to be with my mother again, I had another issue: “Nevin was a bit lonely!” I said. “She needs a friend!” So my wonderful mother created her second doll whom I named “Semsem” (Translation: Sesame). And from there, little Nevin started having more and more friends, until -25 years later- we had a huge group of dolls!
"Nevin" the first doll!
Not only is my mother incredibly creative, but she is also adventurous. So, when I was still very young, she drove us to Siwa (Oasis in the western desert of Egypt) in her Toyota pick up truck and we would stay there for months at a time. Some of my first friends were Siwi children and we spent a lot of time in the fields and running around, while Nevin got to know their lovely mothers.
The Siwi women showed her the hand embroidery their mothers used to make and told her that they were embroidering less and less. It was getting easier to buy ready made and decorated products from Marsa Matrouh (the closest city to Siwa). Nevin encouraged them to keep making the embroidery with the promise, that she would then buy their work. She asked the mothers and grandmothers to teach the younger generation how to keep their culture alive.
She bought many pieces of embroidered fabric from the women, and transformed them into desirable and unique products for the women of Cairo. She made cushions, bags and some of the embroidery was used to dress little Siwi dolls in traditional attire from Siwa.
Picture of my mother and I. Making tea in the desert on our way to Siwa.
This wonderful mother of mine didn’t just stop after she explored Siwa, but she travelled to upper Egypt, other Oasis along the way, north of Egypt and Sinai. She met women there who have their own traditional embroidery and got to know Bedouins and locals.
Today, I am a co-owner of Nevin Altmann (the company) and I feel very privileged to be part of this creative journey.
We work with about 300 women who do their crafts from the comfort of their home and at their own pace. We get to travel a lot around Egypt and thanks to the incredible people we work with, we feel at home everywhere.
Our products have become a blend of modern fashion and tradition. We hope you like it!