“When I came to ithinkasia I could not talk in English, I could listen and understand some but not reply back. Justin put Tou and me in school and I had never went to English school before...I start from zero and now it’s going up- it’s going up and I want them to know about my future that I really, really want to do this.” Naome
Small in stature, big in talent, strong in conviction- that’s Naome in a nutshell.
When I sat down with Naome over green tea and chicken sandwiches, I had the chance to get to know Naome on a more personal level; she was no longer just a girl sitting behind the glow of a Mac clicking away with focus and dedication on some unknown doodle I could see from over her shoulder.
She began to explain the story of how she became part of the ithinkasia team, starting the dialogue quietly then beginning to rise in excitement as our conversation continued. She was first introduced to ithinkasia through her older brother, Honglee, as he saw her talent as an artist when drawing cartoon characters and her avid interest in art, beautiful things, and striking images in general. Wanting to improve her skills and begin a career that actually excited and engaged her, Naome enrolled as a trainee with ithinkasia and is now a full time member of the staff. She had always hoped that one day she would be able to have drawing as part of her career, but didn’t believe that it would be possible or that the opportunity would arise. She was clearly wrong about that! After gaining the skills that she would require to move forward into the industry, she went through an intensive year of training, along with her daily schooling, to become someone with a vision, a goal, a passion.
At twenty years old I had expected someone much like me at her age: unaware, awkwardly figuring myself out and what my future would be like, and finding out who I was while dealing with plenty of stumbling blocks. Naome, on the other hand, stood strong as a pillar. Although with a warm disposition and the occasional sneak peek into her still young world (she loves Taylor Swift!), her gaze held strong and her answers were confident and her thoughts original; not something I generally have encountered when interviewing women in Cambodia, many of who are expected to fit into a form of what is lady-like or acceptable in society.
Naome is part of a movement in the outlet of creativity in a new generation; changing the face of what individuality and an eye for style means in The Kingdom of Wonder. Her quiet confidence radiates even as she sits with her back facing to me while I speak with her colleagues, the determination to perfect a project looming. I can tell that Naome definitely has a strong inclination towards the sartorial side of the industry and with her finger on the pulse of fashion, she injects her energy and sunny disposition into her work whether it be educational or entertainment. Initially what sparked this interest in fashion was a fashion styling course that opened her eyes to a world she feels exceptionally vivacious about. While it’s a difficult industry, I sense that her dedication will help her push through in ways that other girls and women in Cambodia simply haven’t been able to do yet. Naome has the drive, the vision, and is willing to work- creating the perfect canvas for her to rise up and make a splash.
What compels me most when chatting with Naome is that she is most interested in utilizing her skills to improve social awareness through campaigns that she has the opportunity to work on. She hopes to move forward with these types of projects specifically; she likes creating stories that educate and help people in Cambodia learn new things in interesting and dynamic ways. Her most rewarding experiences since she started working with ithinkasia is “bringing to life” ideas that are initially just that- ideas- and seeing them come into form and with each step finished, moving towards the end goal.
Naome is a star on this team, not only because of her push to move forward and improve herself and those around her but because of her love of meeting new people, building relationships, and reaching out to the community. She understands the importance of giving back and integrating social awareness into business, by sharing her own experience and the ways that it has influenced her personally. With her presence, a blend of understated power and humility, Naome has the means to move mountains; just as she moved me during our short time corresponding.