Up Close … with young seamstress Sharon Asba-‘My dream has always been to design my own clothing line’


02-July-2013

Sharon at workSharon Asba is one of those young women who, in spite of her humbleness, dares to dream big and is determined to realise her dreams. 

A young  seamstress who aspires to be a big name in the local fashion and design world one day, Sharon is fighting to overcome all challenges and obstacles that come her way so as to realise her dream of one day owning her own clothing line, workshop and boutique selling her own brand of clothes.

Catching up with her recently, Sharon was eager to share some of her dreams with me.
It was at Josianne Gerry’s workshop at Huteau Lane where she is currently gaining more experience and skills that I met her.

An inhabitant of Union Vale, 20-year-old Sharon has from a very young age been nurturing this great desire to be a seamstress.
Sharon’s interest in sewing developed after she spent time and holidays at her aunt’s who is a seamstress.

“I used to enjoy watching her cut and sew all types of clothes and I often imitated her in my own way sewing small dresses for my dolls,” she said laughing.

Her interest in sewing increased and developed as she grew older and coincidentally young Sharon has great artistic talents and with her pencil she started to draw and create her own designs and pattern.

“I like drawing and my dream is to one day design and sew my clothes, have my brand name on them and put them on display in my own shop,” Sharon told me pensively.
So excited and full of enthusiasm, Sharon said her idea is to have all these projects close together.

“In my dream plans I just visualise everything well organised and mapped out,” Sharon said.

Studies, training and work experience
Sharon went to school at English River and after her secondary education she pursued a two-year course – from 2010 to 2011 -- in fashion design at the polytechnic. But after her course, she worked for six months as a front office administrator at Life Style. Fresh from school and even though she knew what she wanted to do, young Sharon thought she did not have enough experience and the necessary skills and support to launch herself in business.

It was in her quest for experience that she took the job at Life Style and followed a 10-month training for young people who aspire to start a small business initiated by Waso (Women in Action and Solidarity Organisation). This was followed by an exhibition to showcase their products.

“It was great to be able to display some of the products I made myself,” said Sharon, who noted that she has her own small sewing machine at home and is already sewing on a small scale mainly for family, friends and neighbours who bring mostly their children’s school uniforms, bed sheets and ready-made garments to adjust so they fit better.

Sharon said she enjoys sewing and would like to really develop and learn new sewing skills and techniques but she admitted that it is really tough to make a living from it at the beginning.

“It is very difficult for beginners like me and this is why I want to gain as much skills and experience before I launch myself fully in the business. I really need to get myself well organised first,” she stressed.

“I am really grateful to have had the opportunity to follow the training because it helped me understand how to go about preparing a business plan and how to go about avoiding unpleasant situations where ungrateful clients do not pay for work done.

“I have been through such a situation and I definitely want to avoid such unpleasantness in the future,” Sharon added.

Sharon said she feels that as time goes by and she gradually ventures deeper in the world of business, she is becoming more mature and confident as she acquires more knowledge of the intricacies of running a small business and how to overcome the different hurdles and challenges in her way.

Sharon dreams of one day owning her own clothing line

A little more confident, but still eager to learn more and encouraged by her boyfriend, Sharon enrolled on another job training at Josianne Gerry’s sewing workshop at Huteau Lane in Victoria. The owner of different shops and businesses, Mrs Gerry is a well known businesswoman who started very small and has expanded her business over the years.

“She (Mrs Gerry) has a lot of experience and I am really learning a lot in the workshop here,” Sharon said.

Besides sewing, Sharon’s work include attending to clients and taking their orders.
At Mrs Gerry’s, Sharon said she has learnt to allocate time to finish each client’s order and how to ensure everything is ready on the given date and time to spare clients’ any disappointment.

“I have learnt among many business matters how to manage time, to meet deadlines, to avoid pressure building up and to keep clients satisfied and happy,” she said.

Competition with imported ready-made garments
Very much aware of tough competition and the fact that the market is being inundated with ready-made and cheap garments which are in vogue these days, Sharon does not feel intimidated in anyway.

She admitted that competition from imported ready-made garments is tough. But she noted there is a large market for uniform of all types -- from school to office uniforms and other heavier garments like overalls, bed sheet sets, table cloths, curtains, among others.

“Competition is tough as more and more Seychellois opt for imported garments but it is high time they realise that local designers and seamstresses can produce these same garments which would fit better and with better finishings as well,” she said.

Sharon said with a lot of new machines now available, the finishings of locally produced garments are as good as those done on imported ones.

“In spite of everything I never feel disappointed and defeated, on the contrary I feel that I need to look for what those seamstresses are not offering their clients. For instance, no one is tapping into the possibility of making all those garments fit better,” she noted.

Sharon said at present she is doing a lot of such adjustments and she showed me a couple of dresses which she had just fixed to fit better.
Designing for obese people is also another area which she plans to tap into.

“There is potential in this area of business waiting to be explored and I am determined to leave no stone unturned,” she said.

Plans and projects
With her dream always at the forefront of her mind, Sharon plans to remain in the attachment training for a few more weeks before she goes back to sewing full time at home.

She noted that being just at the start of her sewing career she does not plan to take a loan yet.

“I really cannot afford to repay a loan just yet; I need to get my feet firmly on the ground, establish a name for myself, let people know me and what I do well, build their confidence and trust in me and the quality of work I produce before I decide to make any future moves,” she stressed.

Living in a flat does not leave one with much space to run a business, let alone expanding, but Sharon is very lucky as her mother’s house borders a plot of vacant government property which she is in the process of looking into the possibility of buying a small parcel with the aim of helping her daughter expand her trade.

“Fashion is my dream and my dream has always been to design my own clothing line with the possibility of holding a fashion show at the end of each year,” she said.

“I know this must sound a little far-fetched but this is what I want and dare to dream of and make it come true one day. Nothing is impossible and I aim to work towards achieving that,” said the determined young lady.

For Sharon the many seamstresses are each focusing on whatever their areas of specialisation and few if any are holding fashion shows aimed at letting the public know what they do.

“I believe there should be more publicity to let clients know more about what are being produced locally and that local designers and seamstresses are as good as foreign ones,” Sharon pointed out.

Sharon, who has some experience with fashion shows -- having taken part in a past Fon Lanmal event with a collection of her own --  believes the reason for that is people are not innovative enough and they prefer to stick to the old fashion way of doing things. Also, they do not have the means and the support to venture in new areas.

But she firmly believes that support will come if one looks for it by knocking on the right doors, something she plans to do when the time comes and she is ready to put her plans into action.

By Marie-Anne Lepathy

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