Tailoring for Self Employment

Jane Kenyi

Kampala, Uganda - Feb 2008

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Many Ugandans regard tailoring as a role for school drop outs and illiterates, but for 42 year old Roselyn Adiya it is a means of earning a living and creating jobs for others.

She started training and making clothes several years ago on her veranda with two students and one sewing machine, later she moved to a garage, taking on eight students with two sewing machines and one table.

After a year she acquired a bigger space so as to establish a fully equipped tailoring school on Kampala road. She now has twenty students for the day session and ten for the evening session. In addition, she has three teachers, three class rooms, one machine room, a staff room, six manual sewing machines, five electric machines, one over-locking machine and twenty tables.

The training school runs a two year course that covers both the practical and theoretical aspects of the trade. Each student pays 300,000 Uganda shillings per term, and their training is spread over six terms. At the end of the course, each student is able to obtain a diploma and certificates in tailoring and fashion design.

J.K: What inspired you to start a tailoring school for the under privileged?

R.A: I didn’t start the school just for people who are not well to do. My drive was and continues to stem from the desire to teach people who are interested in tailoring and fashion design. I also needed to provide myself with a means to earn a living.

J.K: When did you start the school and who supported you?

R.A: I started the school in 2004 with my own savings. I tried to lobby for support but couldn’t find anyone who was interested.

J.K: What tailoring and business skills do you have?

R.A: I trained for two years in Nairobi, Kenya and obtained a diploma in tailoring and fashion design. I learnt many things e.g. flower arrangement, interior decoration, tie & dye and making clothes with different themes.

J.K: What has been the most challenging experience in this business?

R.A: I had no capital to start this business, that was a major challenge. There have been other difficulties, many students defaulted on their fees because their parents preferred to pay school fees for secondary and university education. There was a general view amongst parents that tailoring is for failures.

J.K: Do you focus on any particular style of tailoring e.g. African, Western etc?

R.A: No, we teach 15 different themes; Oriental, African, Creative wear, Bridal, Casual, Office and Party wear etc. We also teach the history of costume making so as not to limit the students to one type of style or another e.g. African or Western etc.

J.K: What attracts pupils to your school?

R.A: The professional skills, good teaching and the good reputation of the school.

J.K: How does your school benefit the students?

R.A: Our students are able to acquire knowledge and skills that enable them to produce unique and good quality designs. Some of them have opened their own schools, one is making clothes for many of the musicians around Kampala and another is now training women in the Southern Sudan town of Juba.

J.K: Where are your students from?

R.A: Our students come from many parts of Uganda, especially the districts of the Central and Western Regions, some come from as far as Southern Sudan.

J.K: What are your future plans for the school?

R.A: I want to develop my own infrastructure instead of renting, open similar training schools in other parts of the Country and develop a division that deals with business modeling and interior design.

J.K: Is there anything else you would like to add?

R.A: I would like to advertise my school in the media (TV and Radio) so as to attract more students and customers for the designs we create.