Why local is the new black.
My vision for Eemaan Handmade was to produce trendy clothing for kids that are versatile and unique in the market. I wanted to produce clothing that my own kids could wear and that other parents would love their kids to wear but often struggled to find trendy items in stores. It was equally important to me to empower our community which would inevitably help grow our economy, even if it was in the smallest way. I wanted to give back to our community and make a difference in their lives in one way or another.
Together with the Craft Centre at the Association for Persons with Physical Disabilities (APD), I have been able to make this vision a reality. Not only have I been able to create trendy, versatile and unique clothing for children, but I’ve also been able to make a difference in others’ lives, more than I ever could imagine, and for this I am so humbled and hold within me so much gratitude.
Supporting local all the way through
Each and every piece of Eemaan Handmade item, is a local piece of clothing in every sense of the word. From the fabric all the way to production.
It all starts with a vision board. I put together all the colours, textures and ideas of what I plan to achieve in a garment. I grasp onto various concepts, using a number of platforms and put them onto my vision board. Once I’ve gathered colours, ideas and textures, I then eliminate what doesn’t work together with the rest of the vision board. I often reach out to my audience on social media to get an idea of what they’d like to see in our upcoming ranges, and this has played a significant role because with their insights, I am able to add in some of the features/colours/looks that they would like to see in the range. Of course it is impossible to include everyone’s ideas so I try to stick to the most popular ideas and use them if they work well with my existing vision board.
I then source the fabrics. This is the fun part! Firstly, I always source fabrics from local fabric stores and manufactures in Port Elizabeth or elsewhere in South Africa. This is important to me because it all forms part of my vision to empower and give back to my community to deliver a local product.
Sourcing fabric for my designs is an experience on its own. This is when my creative juices really start to flow. Feeling the texture, matching up colours and aligning them all to my vision board, is such a boost to my creativity. It gets me all excited and pumped up for the rest of the design process. Walking into the local fabric stores and knowing all the ladies by name really makes the entire experience such a joy.
Once I’ve sourced the fabrics, I then meet with Bernadette at the APD craft centre. This is where the sampling process takes place. Bernadette manages the team and she is so amazing at what she does. The craft centre specializes in intricate pattern making and small projects. Working with Bernadette is like working with a visionary. She understands exactly what I’m hoping to achieve. Although I have a bit of self-taught pattern creation skills, Bernadette is my go-to person for this, especially because her grading skills are next level. I love that she always take the initiative. Infact, her drive and tenacity is exactly what contributes to herself and her team producing exactly what I envisioned and more. I am always blown away by the final product.
Once the pattern creation process is complete, it is then shared with the rest of the team in the APD craft center. Together we create the samples.
In the very beginning I created all my own samples and patterns. But with my new workload and 2 kids we needed the extra hands.. and what better hands I say!
Remember, the team of people in the craft center have a physical disability of some sort and despite this, they consistently produce high quality garments. Can you imagine how it warms my heart seeing the final product that is so much more than what I hoped for. I can certainly feel the love that goes into making each and every item.
This way I am giving back to my community and making a difference in lives while producing a product that is 100% local AND handmade.
More about APD
I have chosen to work with APD because of their amazing initiative and goal to empower people with disabilities. This is about empowering individuals that have been turned away. This is about giving those same people their independence and confidence back. These people are now my family and their work ethic and drive for perfection is amazing to witness.
Who are APD? In a nutshell, they are a long standing, non-profit organization, with the aim of empowering persons with physical disabilities.
“We are committed to social reformation in the area of disability. Our aim is to promote APD as a responsible organization doing essential work. We actively pursue mainstream business and fundraising opportunities for the purpose of changing the lives of persons with disabilities”
APD is a movement, and with a movement comes expansion. I love that APD shares the very same vision that The Little Closet (TLC) does and this is why it was important to me to give you abit of insight in the process of what it takes to make your kids clothes. Every time you buy from TLC, both you and I are supporting local in more than one way. We are giving someone with a disability hope, independence, encouragement and growth. Most importantly we are giving joy to someone, and in this case, more than one.