In January 2022, Ade and Christina were in Kenton-on-Sea where they met local entrepreneur, Tanya Fouché. The result? Khanya and Tanya are partnering in a new project to teach local ladies to sew and to train others. Here Tanya and talks about the project and tells her story
The Marselle Sewing Circle
I'm all about supporting local and my shop stocks only local products.
When I opened my shop, Silver Linings, in Kenton, I tracked down a sewing circle in Marselle Bushmansrivermouth, across the river. I met the ladies who had been gifted industrial sewing machines, probably by the Department of Rural Development, but they didn't have any materials, haberdashery, nor training, nor route to market. These ladies have no business skills either as they've only done domestic work.
I appealed to our local community to donate old materials that they didn't need and they generously donated items so the ladies could start sewing.
The germ of an idea
When I met Christina and Ade in 2022, I saw an opportunity because these ladies (and most of our community) do domestic work during the December season and for the rest of the year they live on grants. So why not use those eleven months to train them for more sustainable work?
Silver Linings will be a platform to market the goods produced by the ladies, when they reach a sufficient standard.
Khanya is sponsoring the ladies for six months to get them to a stage where they are able to train new, younger recruits next year. I am marketing the products into the game reserves and curio shops where we are offering to brand products. The game reserves are very interested in the products. I have spoken to a few and will be visiting them in September, just before the season starts. In this area winter is usually very quiet so we've used the opportunity to get some training done and get the sewing skills up to standard.
I trained in marketing and was in corporate for a decade. When I had my children I decided to become self-employed, which was 17 years ago. I started with a corporate gifts and clothing company in Mossel Bay. I was widowed when my kids were six months and four years old so moved to Port Elizabeth where my family lived. I started a guesthouse and ran that for over 10 years then moved to Bushmansrivermouth. After lockdown I saw a gap in the market for a little shop and wanted to support the local community.
At school I did some needlework, but not much. I really started sewing when I was 18 and ended up making all of my own suits in corporate. I would make five-piece suits: a lined blazer with a pair of trousers, bermuda shorts, a shift dress with a skirt to match and my clothes always looked fantastic. I was very fortunate I had a friend who taught me tailoring tricks so the clothing came out looking like it had been shop bought and not homemade
I believe in sharing knowledge so I’m delighted that now I can pass on my skills to the ladies at Marselle. When you share knowledge it can only expand.
Christina Thomas is a trustee of Khanya and serial volunteer at Amasango Career School.