2018 was a successful year for Mazuri Designs and our giving back component of our business, the Sewing Our Futures Project. Together, our team, was able to impact the lives of disadvantaged young women while also producing beautiful unique products for our growing client base.
One of our big achievements was holding our very first Sewing Our Futures (SoF) project fashion show on the August 24th! On this day, we celebrated 15 graduates through awarding them with certificates for having completed the 6 month vocational training course of tailoring, sewing, and fashion design.
This was also the first year for the SoF project that we introduced additional trainings in entrepreneurship development and mentorship; and personal skills training. Topics covered included: introduction to business skills and management, business etiquette and marketing, business planning and strategy, communication skills, self-esteem and body image, teamwork, sexual and reproductive health, violence against women, and women’s rights. With this information, the young women were equipped with the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence to find gainful employment or start up their own businesses.
Thanks to our monitoring and evaluation of the project, we found that the program had a measurable impact on the income of the 15 participants. 58% of the respondents reported that their income had increased due to the skills that they learnt from the training. Out of this number, 83% of the participants increased their income due to the selling of sewing products. In addition, whereas only 15% of respondents were working before the training, 41% are now employed, part-time (33%) and full-time (8%). After the training, all 100% of young women were able to make products for personal use, for family, and/or for sale. 67% of respondents produce clothing for both family and income, with 25% producing for only income and 8% for only family.
Jovia told us how the business skills and personal development skills trainings impacted her life:
“Many changes have occurred since I joined the Sewing Our Futures Program. My self-esteem has been boosted. Previously, I was not a really shy girl, but I was unable to freely interact with people. During the program, we had a training with Coach Joan that was about being an assertive and confident girl and this helped me a lot because we got to learn about the various ways in which we can relate with people and how important it is for one to be confident.”
Another 10 young women joined us in the Sewing Our Future Project and will complete the training program in 2019.
In addition to our work to economically empower out-of-school young women, Mazuri Designs widened its client base throughout the world. Through our social media platforms, we have been able to connect with both international and domestic clients. International clients from the USA, Australia, Chile, Mexico, and Norway have supported us by purchasing our products.
We have also created products for businesses and organizations within Uganda like Angels Children Centre, Housing Finance Bank, Go Culture Africa, and Heifer International. These clients have continuously supported Mazuri Designs through purchasing our products and recommending our services to other clients. Our clients from Angels Children Centre explained why Mazuri Designs is their preferred designer:
“Of all the places we have been to, Mazuri Designs makes the nicest things and besides that your fabric and touch is super.”
This year, Mazuri Designs also received orders for bridal attires, which boasted our experience with different bridal accessories and designs. One woman ordered for a bridal jumpsuit that matched with the clothing of her bridal entourage. Another woman ordered for a changing dress for her traditional marriage and another ordered for two dresses for a friend’s wedding. We received feedback from all these clients that they were very satisfied with their orders. Catherine Nabanoba appreciated us in her own words:
“Thanks for the wonderful service, we will be sure to come back!”
Mazuri Designs, together with Girl Up Initiative Uganda, held an event in New York where we sold our beautiful Mazuri products to new clients.
In October, we were visited by Rachael Knapp Richards, Executive Director of Arthur B Schultz Foundation, which has been a key donor for the Sewing Our Futures project. She visited the Mazuri Designs workshop with her young children.
WHAT WE LOOK FORWARD TO IN 2019
As we look forward to 2019, we are excited to continue to provide excellent service to our clients through offering delivery services to our clients, recognizing our clients every end of the month, giving back to our clients through promotions and gifts and offering discounts to high purchases. Our team also aims to create more sophisticated, elegant, trendy, and classy designs. We have also invested in the business through hiring two more seamstresses, including one who is a graduate of the Sewing Our Futures Project. Our workshop spaces has also expanding and we now have more space to showcase our clothing, accessories and bags for a quick pick as clients pass by to make orders.