The tailoring business relies heavily on creativity as well as having great sewing skills. A tailor needs to be able to come up with fashion designs that they can then recommend to their clients depending on the shape of their body and the type of fabric they want. Therefore training and passion are key if one is to succeed in this industry. It’s even better if one realizes that this is what they want to do from an early age so that they can nurture and improve their skill overtime.
This is the story of Mercy Salama a tailor in Nairobi who is passionate about what she does and is very happy that she is living her dream,
“Growing up I always knew that I wanted to be a tailor. My aunt was kind enough to take me through a tailoring college where the journey to my dream began. My family was not well off so taking me to school was the best they could do for me and the rest I had to figure out on my own.”
Salama’s story is like something out of a Nigerian movie where she came from selling flavored ice to becoming a successful tailor, a business that currently sustains her and her family. Getting the starting capital was a challenge but that did not discourage her. She thought about her options and decided she would open a flavored ice business which did not need much money to start and from there she could save enough to buy what she would need to open a tailor shop,
“I sold the ice for a while until I had enough money to buy my own sewing machine and other things that I needed to start my tailoring business.”
A visit to stall number 460 at Nairobi Textiles which is where her shop is located gives one a feeling of how Salama’s sacrifices along the way have paid off.
The business has also had a big impact on her family. She’s been able to successfully take her three siblings through school and comfortably pay her bills. As a way of giving back to the community, she offers tailoring lessons to a couple of students at a small fee.
Despite all this benefits, Salama’s tailor shop business has not been without challenges,
“One of the challenges I face is that I’ll finish sewing an outfit and when the owner comes to pick it up they promise to pay later but then fail to do so. This is a setback that I have decided to address by being strict and not releasing clothes until the full payment is made.”
Salama is happy with how far she has come and regards her clients as family so she tries to be honest with them as much as possible,
“In this industry tailors are known to be liars. They tell you to come for your clothes on a certain day and when that day comes, they know they are not done yet and even worse, they lie about it and some even hide to avoid confrontation. It’s better to have a good reputation since a good name is better than wealth”
The young entrepreneur urges youth to use their brains, hands and feet to make a living since different people were meant to do different things in this world.
“Just because your neighbor is a lawyer, doctor, engineer doesn’t mean that you also need to be one!” she concluded.