Suraya Williams, 41, from Westgate, is the founder of the Design26 Foundation and says she started her non-profit organisation in the hopes of empowering women, especially young mothers.
Young women, aged 15 to 21, can attend sewing classes for free and over six months they are taught the ins and outs of making clothes and other items.
“I started this foundation for women in Mitchells Plain and surrounds. The project is aimed at helping young mothers and young girls who completed school, but have no skills to empower themselves in the manufacturing industry,” Suraya explains.
The mom of three, who currently has 15 women attending her classes on Mondays, says her passion for dressmaking came from her own mother and her thriving business has shown her anything is possible.
“I started my business, Design26, after my mother passed on in 2006.
“She was a very popular dressmaker in the area and taught me all I know today. I have never worked in a factory. I have no tertiary qualifications in design; all the skills I have I got from my mother,” Suraya says with pride.
The women get a step-by-step theoretical and practical course, from how to pin a button to eventually making their own garments.
“At the end of the programme, each person will have to design and manufacture a full-blown garment by themselves.
“They will be learning on various machines. I will be teaching them fabric names and types, how to grade and make patterns, take measurements and cut patterns,” Suraya explains.
Each woman receives a certificate at the end of the programme and armed with their new skills, they can look for a job or start up their own business.
Suraya’s message to other young women is: “Living in Mitchells Plain is not bad, you can be the example. Life doesn’t have to end when you give life.”
If you would like to join the programme, contact Suraya on 072 459 4297, email her at [email protected] or visit their website www.design26foundation.org.za.