Vote CRWatch 2015 Young Entrepreneurs Summit/Awards Entry 2 – Sash Fashion

In Akwa-Cross Entertainment, Breaking News, Business & Economy, National News, Reports

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First, I’d like to use this medium to thank God Almighty for the gift of life, as well as to the organizers of this event, for the opportunity for me to tell my story to the world, which I‘ve longed to tell and prayed for a day like this to come, thanks be to God for this day.

My name is Anwakang, Charity Emmanuel, A.K.A “Sash” as fondly called by my family and friends. Am a native of Ono¬Ito in Ito clan of Odukpani L.G.A, Cross River State, Nigeria. Am 30yrs old and speaks English, Efik, and Ikom language fluently, the 5th in a family of 7 children.

After my secondary education, I gained admission into the then Calabar Polytechnic to study business administration in 2003 but could not achieve this due to financial restrain. All this while I had lived with my mom all my life since my parents were divorced. Sadly, in 2005 my mom died after a brief illness which made my siblings to spend all they had in a bid to save her. Yet untimely, we lost her.

I was the only one living with my mom at the time since my other siblings were already independent, so I had to go stay with my father in the village after her death. I stayed in the village from 2005 to 2009. I sat down one day and thought my life ¬over, what I was living for, what was becoming of me, and what the future should be like for me, then I realized that if I don’t do something I will be a liability even to my own self.

So, out of the gifts and talents God has blessed me with, I decided to go and learn the tailoring profession. I was determined to succeed, I have had great challenges with not just about the quality but the number of clothes I had. There were times I couldn’t go anywhere until the cloth I washed gets dry, because it was all I had.

There was also a time I had just two (2) fairly good clothes to wear, and there were given to me by two of my elder sisters. There was a time too, when I wanted to become a fashion model (runway model), I didn’t have clothes to wear for rehearsals and auditions, I always felt bad and inferior when am walking on the street amongst my peers, especially when people look at me in a kind of disgusting manner, this made me lose confidence in myself and I thought I had lost my self esteem then.

There was this experience I will never forget, when one of my elder sisters tore her blouse off my body because I wore it out. Taking the decision to learn sewing was very exciting for me, remembering all my experiences a few of which I stated earlier. I knew I had to go to the city (Calabar) to acquire this skill because I wanted the best, so I contacted my childhood friend, she was in University of Calabar at that time.

I told her to help me find a good place I can learn tailoring. Fortunately for me, she was also learning the trade while going to school too, so it was just easy for me to find a place to have my training. Then, I needed a place to stay and go for my training, take care of myself and my bills, so I thought of getting a paid job while am learning the trade.

I then contacted another friend who informed me about a supposed vacant room in the compound where she lived. So, I travelled to Calabar with my little savings from menial jobs I rendered to people {like hair braiding}, I met with the landlord and he accepted part payment on the condition that I balance up in 6months time.

Then I left for a cousin’s place to stay for some days. Since I needed to work and also enroll for a tailoring school, I thought of where I could work that will help me have the time for my sewing classes. So I made up my mind to work with any hospitality outfit (hotel).

The next morning, I got dressed, walked through the street where my new residence is, I wrote down all the names and addresses of all the hotels around the area. They were about fifteen in number, and then suddenly it started raining heavily, before I could get under a shade I was already soaked, it was useless standing under the shade since I was already cold. I walked home in the rain, thinking about my life, my condition at the time, I couldn’t help crying.

I stayed up all night, wrote application letters for all the addresses, added a passport to each of them, went back the next day submitted the letters same way I had gone round writing the addresses out. I actually applied to work as a receptionist. Few days later, I got a call from one of the hospitality outfits (hotel) to come for interview, which I did and passed and so was asked to start work in three days time.

On 25th August of that same year, 2009 I got enrolled to start my sewing classes. I started working first week of September and by second week of same month resumed at my fashion school. It was actually a shift job. So, one week I will attend my sewing class while I go to work at night, and another one week I will miss my class since I have to be on morning duty.

This was very devastating and stressful for me because I had to try to catch up with what my colleagues were taught while I was away, with or without a guide. In spite of my little setback, I took my sewing lessons very seriously and I must say that God gave me a good understanding in that in any little explanation my mistress gives, I just understood easily. My father was happy for the new development, he started saving up money to buy me a sewing machine.

At about 4¬ to 5 months of my training I was able to buy my first sewing machine with the money my father gave me and the little I could save from my #7,000 naira salary as a receptionist. Working and attending my sewing classes was really time choking for me, I never had the time to have any good rest since I was working Sunday to Sunday, and we were just two(2) of us as receptionists.

At some time I lost so much weight considering my tiny frame to the point I was scared of my own reflection in a mirror. Since I had to wait for 3¬-4 weeks before I was paid, I had little or nothing to eat most times. Sometimes I’ll eat N50 bread and N10 groundnut as a day meal and wait till I get to work so I can drink water from the tap since I couldn’t afford N10 sachet water.

Most times I’ll eat Mee mee noodles since it was the only affordable noodles for me; then it was sold at N30.00. Other times when it’s like I’m rich I will eat extra plate of food at N50.00 in a restaurant just by my sewing school from a lady who just choose to sell her extra plate of food at N50.00 only to the students in the sewing school, but to other customers she sold at N70.00, though she was my mistress’s customer.

There were times when I had to go on only water all day without food. In all these I never relented in my sewing classes or my work because I knew I really needed them both. God helped me, after one year at the fashion school I graduated without any celebration party because I couldn’t afford it.

At this time I was already on the average since I had a machine at home, it really helped me learn faster. After graduating from my tailoring school, I got less expensive materials, I started making clothes for myself and people started admiring my clothes. At this point I don’t hesitate to tell them I made them myself.

That was how people started giving me materials to make clothes for them and gradually I was having customers. They kept increasing by the day. At this time I was using my one room apartment as my shop as well. I thought of getting a shop so I could employ 2 to 3 persons to work with me, since the work load was becoming too much for me alone. And also to teach young people who are looking for the opportunity to learn.

From my little savings between 2011 to 2013, support from one of my siblings and also from a good spirited friend, who saw my handwork and believed in me, I was able to get a shop in January 2014. I started working from the shop with my first machine, and within 6months I got two (2) apprentice and two more machines. My clients increased and so was my work load and also the need to employ desperately.

One month later, I got my first employee, though she was not a perfect hand to work with but I just had to take her since I have been working alone for almost 6 months and jobs kept coming. While we were working together, I noticed she does not like to take corrections, she wasn’t ready to learn new things, like patterns and styles, this was affecting the business as customers were beginning to show dissatisfaction, so I had to relief her off duty after 4months.

All the people who came to work after her were not good enough. Then I realized that no good tailor or fashion designer who knows his\her quality and worth will work for anyone, except the salary is “over rewarding” or he\she can’t afford a sewing machine. So I continued working alone and a month later I had my third apprentice while the first two were about leaving, they had come to learn for 6months since they already had some little experience, they had come to acquire more knowledge.

Permit me to state here that I had resigned my job as a receptionist the same period I graduated from fashion school. I needed to concentrate on my new experience as a fashion designer. I never gave up hope of going to school, so in March 2015 I wrote JAMB, seeking for admission into the Cross River University of Technology.

Considering the fact that I was hoping to go back to school, I decided to move and continue to work from the house, since I will have more bills to pay, and I wasn’t making much profit from the business as I couldn’t find good hands to employ.

Moreover the rent for the shop was already a hundred thousand Naira(N100,000.00) and the house rent at seventy thousand naira(N70,000), I had light bills to pay both at my living house and shop, taxes to pay, adding school fees to it will be like breaking down, so I moved the business home on 1st April 2015.

I’ve been working from the house since then, though it has been slow due to the shift and the economy situation of the country. By God’s grace, I was able to pay for a spacious apartment where I currently do my work from, and I’ve been given admission into the Cross River University of Technology to study Mass Communication.

I believe I will learn more about life generally, if I go to the University. I will also have more opportunities for my business to grow. Presently I have two (2) contract signed apprentice and a young girl I am teaching for free. I had made it clear to them that once I start school, I will let them know my time table and that classes will be very intensive for them since I have to be sharing my time.

I am ready to teach anyone who is ready to learn, even though he\she can’t afford the fees, so long as the person is willing, that’s all that matters to me. Especially people who in a way have suffered or are suffering what i suffered when “I had no clothes”.

I choose Sash Fashion {SF} for my brand name, I see her growing to become a household name, I see her growing big beyond my imaginations, I believe that the sky is her breaking point. I believe and trust in God, and I know with Him, there are no limits!

Note: For me, I worked my opportunities out for myself, through the help of God. I have learnt that no condition is permanent, if you take a decision and work towards it, you will definitely change your story.

With this four Great D’s (Determination, Discipline, Dedication and Diligence), you will sure have Great DS (Distinct Success), and nothing, can stop you!

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

Awakang, Charity.

click here to vote for SashFashion

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Vote Entry 5- Topglass Wardrobe

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Vote Entry 3 – Agum Cocoa

Vote Entry 1 – NovaRosta

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