Artisan business offers opportunities for ABQ refugees and immigrants

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March is Women’s History Month and, all month long, we’re sharing stories of New Mexico women who have made and continue to make an impact on our state.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Since starting Kei and Molly Textiles in 2010, Kei Tsuzuki and Molly Luethi have been successful at creating and designing unique artisan products.

However, they say it isn’t the profits they make that matter. It’s the work they do for a specific group of women.

Kei and Molly’s team carefully screen prints each design, not a machine. The team is also working toward an important mission.

“We’re a social enterprise. We created our business to help create good jobs for immigrants and refugees in our community,” said Kei Tsuzuki, a co-owner of Kei and Molly Textiles.

Most of the women who work here are immigrants or refugees from all over the world who speak different languages. They screen print unique designs on items such as bags, bandanas and more.

Aside from pay, these women also gain other skills.

“They are learning what it’s like to be in an American workforce, what’s expected, being on time, you know all that stuff. Then they also learn friendship here and I think that’s been really important. We support each other through thick and thin,” Tsuzuki explained.

Kei and Molly have worked with immigrants and refugees long before they opened their business. They have seen the struggles that these women often face day to day.

“In some cases, women have been through trauma and I think, for them, it’s nice to be in a safe space where they feel supported,” said Molly Luethi, a co-owner of Kei and Molly Textiles.

Kei and Molly say they hope to keep providing a safe space for women now and in the future.

Their products are sold at their Nob Hill store and at more than 500 retailers across the country.

Kei and Molly also offer a scholarship to graduating Highland High School seniors whose families recently immigrated to the U.S.

They also work with many organizations to keep their mission going. If you’d like to learn more about what Kei and Molly do, click here.