From Refugee to Fashion! Meet IFD Marketing Manager Sophin Khamvongsa

Updated: Apr 22

Hello Dear Reader,

I am so happy to introduce to you our newest team member, Sophin Khamvongsa! What a wonderful connection we made when introduced by a mutual friend who knew we would click...I love it when that happens! Sophin has an amazing story, incredible drive and energy, along with passion and a I couldn't be more thrilled to share her story. AND a big welcome to her as the newest member of the IFD team as our Marketing Manager. We are lucky to have her so without further ado, here, in her own words, is her story.

(SK): In the late 1970s, my mother bravely taught young girls how to make scarves in the midst of the Khmer Rouge war. She saw fashion and beautiful fabrics as a way of bringing beauty to an otherwise ugly surrounding, and she passed this love on to me as a child. I inherited this love from Cambodia and brought it all the way to New Orleans where we landed as a refugee family. New Orleans was the beginning of a new life for our family, but freedom and opportunity were concepts that were hard for us to grasp at first. I struggled with feeling like we didn’t belong in this new place. Two years later though, an elementary school teacher bought me the most beautiful white dress with embroidered red flowers to help welcome me to her class. I remembered feeling so beautiful and confident in that dress, like I could accomplish anything I wanted. Fashion has the power to bring beauty to ugliness, confidence to insecurity, and a home to the refugee.

As an adult, I have never completely fallen in love with a clothing piece unless I am able to make my own modifications to it, from my own vision. I knew as a young child I wanted to have the freedom to express myself creatively, but life took me towards another interesting path in high-tech. With a career in Global Program Management and Marketing spanning over twenty years in big corporations such as Intel, I now have the real-world experience and newfound courage to pursue my childhood dream in fashion.

It can be an intimidating world and I’m sure there will be challenges but to quote the great fashion icon Iris Apfel,
“You’ve got to try it. You’ve only got one trip, you have to remember that.”

My goal is to one day have my own organic clothing line that represents not only my timeless artistic style, but my values. I want my line to make consumers look good and feel good about their purchases, knowing that they’re wearing sustainably and consciously made fashion. It’s been over two decades since I’ve designed a clothing piece so as you can imagine I’m thrilled and honored to have been connected to the talented designer, Britta Cabanos at IFD, to further pursue my design aspirations. Under the wings of Britta and as a tribute to my late fearless mother, I look forward to growing tremendously, contributing to the causes of the IFD community, and having lots of creative fun. And in the near future, I hope to make my loved ones proud and be lucky enough to see you at the launch of my clothing line!

Thank you Sophin for sharing your story....and flattering me...and joining the IFD team! So lucky to have you.

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