The Team


Helka Mäki – MA, Dress Maker, Teacher, Vocational Trainer – has been part of Social Fabric since its very beginning and has helped form the project from the ground up. She is originally from Finland where she completed her Master of Arts at the University of Helsinki and became a textile handicraft and computer skills teacher. Furthermore, Helka studied dressmaking for two years. At Social Fabric, she manages the integration projects and is responsible for vocational training and the planning and coordination of the production. She has been Managing Director of Social Fabric since 2018. 



In her studies, Justine Portenier – MA Public Management & Policy – focused on the societal and sustainable aspects of economic sciences. She studied at the University of Basel, the University of Lausanne and the University of Hamburg, where she gained her knowledge of public and NGO management. At Social Fabric, she is responsible for strategy and fundraising as well as external communications.



From the first day at Social Fabric in 2018, Javid Atai has been a dedicated part of the team and is very actively engaged in  the production of the Social Fabric products. Before starting his apprenticeship at Social Fabric, Javid had the chance to gain several years of experience as a tailor in Iran. He particularly enjoys sewing elegant women’s dresses. In the first year of his apprenticeship, Javid participated in the talent and startup incubator for refugees and migrants by Capacity Zurich, which he successfully mastered. 



Kouassi Amoussou-Doh came to Switzerland in 1997 from his home country of Togo. Since the end of 2018, Kouassi has been working as a tailor for Social Fabric as part of the AOZ’s GEP (Gemeinnützige Einsatzplätze) program. Kouassi already brought a lot of experience in tailoring to Social Fabric. After completing his studies, he completed a three-year apprenticeship in the textile trade in Togo, followed by a six-month internship with a master tailor. Afterwards he worked as a freelance tailor for eight years. Kouassi has big plans for the future and wants to return to Togo after working for Social Fabric and open his own studio. Just as at Social Fabric, he also wants to offer sewing courses there.



Pablo Reiniger has been working as a tailor for more than 10 years. He currently works at Prada and Salvatore Schito’s couture boutique in Zürich. Pablo is a course instructor at Social Fabric.


My name is Maryan. I’m from Somalia and I grew up in Mogadishu. I have a 6-year-old son named Mohamed. I have been in Switzerland since 2012 and live here in Zurich. Since I arrived in Switzerland I have attended German courses as well as a motivational semester. At the moment I’m doing an apprenticeship as a clothing designer (EBA). My hobbies are drawing flowers, beautiful clothes and visiting my family.


Dr. Heather Kirk, Researcher, Founder 

Advisory Board Member


Heather Kirk did her PhD in microbiology and was a researcher in her home country, Canada, before coming to Switzerland to take on a research position at ETH. She wanted to increase the impact of her day-to-day work, and so she developed the idea of Social Fabric as a vehicle to bring people together to create new ideas. She is especially interested in innovation and social impact. As its founder, Heather knows Social Fabric like the back of her hand and, therefore, is the perfect person to support the association as advisory board member.

Dr. Dominique Bourqui, BFCC Coaching and Consulting 



Dominique Bourqui is a lawyer and has more than ten years of experience as a consultant and coach with a focus on entrepreneurship and business. She works with her clients and helps them to develop their entrepreneurial spirit and business thinking. Furthermore she provides clarification and enables her clients to plan their professional future and translate plans into action. She shares Social Fabric’s values and energy and sees great potential in the people who lead it.

Megan McGill, Senior Program Manager Laudes Foundation 

Executive Board Member

Megan McGill is an expert in the circular economy of textiles. She completed her Master of Business Administration at HSG, the University of  St.Gallen. Currently, she is a program manager at the C&A foundation, which manages 5 M. dollars yearly. From the beginning, she has believed in the potential of our community and supports Social Fabric as a Member of the Board with her valuable know-how and expertise in non-profit management and strategy.

Ruth Knipping, Graduate Engineer Textile and Clothing Technology, Project Management Mitloedi, Textile Printing 

Executive Board Member

Ruth Knipping has 20 years of experience in the globally operating textile industry. In her past positions as material manager, Ruth placed a strong focus on the sustainable production and procurement of fabrics, always respecting aspects of team-oriented and socially inclusive standards. Ruth appreciates Social Fabric as a place that promotes integration, respect, social justice and a sense of community. She is close to the people that she has met while being engaged at Social Fabric and describes her time here as enriching. With her longstanding and diverse expertise in the textile industry, she is a valuable addition to the Social Fabric Board.

Véronique Riccio-Derksen, Expert Protection of Human Rights


Véronique Riccio-Derksen is an expert in the protection of human rights and program management in the humanitarian field. She has more than ten years of professional experience with field work in Africa and Southeast Asia for NGOs, the UN and the humanitarian aid of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Véronique advocates for the basic human rights of displaced persons. Her work is still Véronique’s greatest passion and she is oftentimes astonished at people’s resilience. Her experience with NGOs and humanitarian work is highly valuable for our board.