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There can’t have been many worse times to start a new business in Iran. Even before officials in the Islamic Republic alerted the public to a major outbreak of the coronavirus, the country started the year in a tense standoff with the U.S. while its economy was being crippled by sanctions.

For a trio of design graduates, a captive market of tens of millions of consumers starved of imports made it worth the risk. Their fashion brand, Koi, has sold thousands of crop tops and striped jeans since July.

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