So I haven’t mentioned it before, but I’m in the process of starting my own social upliftment/job creation project. I’ve wanted to start a sewing project for a few years, and truthfully never knew where to begin. It’s weird that when the idea is in your head, and you really want to do something, it all just falls into place. A friend of mine taught art classes to kids in Nekkies, an area of the Knysna townships, and mentioned that a sewing group met next door. She took me up there to meet the ladies last October and I’ve been hanging out with them ever since.
The great thing about the Women of Vision, that’s what they call themselves, is that they’ve already got a little business running. So they know the basics of sewing, they just don’t have the marketing and sales knowledge that they need to become a success. Foreign passers-by, the kind of people who want to take home a guinea-fowl placemat, or zebra-print oven gloves, have been buying bits and pieces from them. This just isn’t sustainable though. They’ve got homes to run and children to feed, and the sale of a couple of pairs of oven gloves a month just isn’t enough. I’ve got access to what’s in fashion, a million ideas in my head and the online shop to reach an unlimited number of customers. So, altogether, we make quite a team.
What I made sure that I didn’t do, was walk in and promise the ladies a new life on Day One. And I didn’t try to take over the operation of things either. As I said earlier, I’ve just been hanging out. We chat, we sew and I’ve sorted out two suitcases of buttons into glass jars (so excited to get my hands on the buttons!). I wanted for us to get to know each other, and to develop trust. A woman who started a project in George warned me that a lot of black people in South Africa have had a lot of white people promise them things, and then not follow through. I don’t want to be like that.
In the last month or so, we’ve started to work on some bags. We’ve got a long long way to go, but we have so much potential to succeed. I’m feeling very excited about it all. I’ll take pictures of our progress and post them up soon.__
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