We manoeuvred our moto through the gates of Outland’s sewing room and were greeted, as normal, by the sound of laughter floating down from the second story and filling the space with a warm and welcoming ambience; the kind of atmosphere that coffee shops covet.
Our workshop is normally a small hive of activity, yet this week, the murmur of machines has ceased in the afternoons and has been replaced by the hum of animated conversation and intermittent peals of laughter.
If you had climbed the steps with us, you would have seen our staff clustered in small groups on the floor, absorbed in creating patterns for a lady’s blouse, on large squares of paper.
These classes are part of Outland Denim's Development Hours, a project created to equip our team with essential life skills and foster professional proficiency based on an initial survey of staff seeking to understand their aspirations.
With workshops ranging from basic English to balancing budgets and the ins and outs of infant care, our team has been approaching lessons with tangible excitement and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Their notebooks and pens are always poised and a pause in production will often beget requests for an impromptu English lesson.
Our staff have shown great interest in developing their knowledge around owning a tailoring business. The skill set consistently sought after is sewing techniques for a diverse range of clothing: everything from shorts to evening gowns. Some of our staff are also keen learn fashion design.
Whether sewing clothing for their children or opening their own business, we could not be happier to enable professional development in this area. We would love to see our staff become innovators and leaders in the field of fashion. As we watch this room full of women cutting out their patterns with careful consideration, their eager concentration is uplifting. Come four o'clock, one small group triumphantly celebrates their completed pattern, the template 100 per cent accurate.A talented local tailor, Vanny, darted between each group, fixing measurements and resolving heated debates on calculations. She had come to present a course on designing different styles of clothing and tailoring patterns to different body types; the valuable skills of a successful tailor.
At its heart, empowerment is enabling an individual to acquire a quality of life that allows them to pursue their aspirations and to be ambitious. At Outland Denim, we want to be both a safe haven and a stepping stone for women coming through our doors; instilling them with self-worth, providing a safe work environment, a sustainable skill set, the ability to save for the future, and the chance to dream big.
Katie Bjorem is Outland Denim's International Operations Manager.