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About Us

Our mission

Our aim is to preserve traditions, create heirlooms and enjoy all the colour and fun of festivities but without the waste. We do this through the creation of reusables to take the place of single-use items.

We manufacture in Afghanistan with the sole purpose of helping women who have no other options for employment or income. Our product is merely the vehicle we use to assist women in dire circumstances.

Our customers want sustainable and ethical options for day-to-day living and make conscious buying choices that consider who made the item and how they were treated.

Our history

Waste Free Celebrations started as a small craft stand in a small craft market in a very small town in New Zealand. With accidental success during covid 2020 when we had to hire 12 women in the space of two weeks to meet demand, we knew we were onto something. The business moved to Auckland in 2021 where we employed all Afghan refugee women who had many barriers to entering the workforce in New Zealand.  I had lived in Kabul from 2004 – 2006 as a humanitarian aid worker so I had very deep connections with the country and the people.

Unfortunately textile manufacturing in New Zealand is financially unfeasible with very little scope to scale. We decided to take production offshore but keep our souls intact by going to Afghanistan, rather than China, where we would employ women who had no other source of income, were vulnerable to violence or child marriage, or still awaiting SIV status for relocation to another country.

Our wonderful Head of Production and former refugee Rahila Sayed, wanted to return to help women who are suffering immeasurable hardships under the Taliban. Whilst we are called Waste Free Celebrations here, we are trading as Hope Sewing over there :-) 

Business in Afghanistan comes with huge risk so approximately 30% of our products will be manufactured in Pakistan as a risk mitigation strategy.

Reusable, gift bags and crackers may be a simple product and a simple concept, but they provide a lifeline to women who can feed their children simply because you purchased a bag.


Come join us!




Our team

Emma Conyngham

Director Waste Free Celebrations

Emma Conyngham is a former humanitarian aid worker who worked for UNDP and UNIFEM Afghanistan from 2004 - 2006. She also worked for World Vision NZ and TEAR Fund as Head of Communications and Advocacy. After having children and moving to Wānaka she started a small craft project making reusable gift bags to take the waste out of Christmas which exploded into a thriving business employing Afghan refugees in Auckland.

+6421 810 166

Rahila Sayed

Director Hope Sewing

Rahila grew up as a refugee in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan as a toddler during the early Taliban years. She arrived in New Zealand in 2014 as a widow with 6 children. With her children now grown, Rahila wanted to return to Afghanistan to help women like her to earn an income and provide for their children. She has worked for WFC since 2021.

Tim Brown

Marketing manager

Timmy manages our direct-to-consumer e-commerce operations, as well as lending his experience and strategy to other key business decisions. In the past he has worked on the agency side, client side, and run his own company.

Anna Sutcliffe

Admin Manager

Anna is a paediatric nurse by trade and a mum to three boys. She has been volunteering with the Afghan refugee community for many years and assisting with resettlement for women and children in Auckland. She has her own fabric importing business but is now working on systems and admin management for WFC.

Watch the tour of our Kabul Christmas factory