A successful model from Poland has abandoned the catwalk to teach sewing and design to women in Kenya.
Three years ago, Maja Kotala decided to change her life and go to Africa to help others. She established the Sewing Together project which educates women on how to sew and make a self-sustainable business.
Based on the coast in Mombasa, the free courses teach students not only how to create clothes but also start their own fashion line. "I teach them how to create collections. I teach the basics of business, marketing, sales, bargaining skills and how to behave towards a client," Kotala said.
Most of the students at school are between 19 and 25 years old. Although they come from different tribes, they get along well and support each other. "I have 15 years of experience in the fashion industry and I would like to share this experience with others," she told Zwierciadlo.
Apart from modeling, Kotala lived for 5 years lived in Sydney, where she graduated from fashion design. She spent the next 6 years in Paris working for the fashion industry (she represented fashion brands on the world market).
The sewing training at her school in Mombassa lasts about a month. The project's success is based on that fact that educated women train new ones. Furthermore, the school gives women an opportunity to cut themselves off from the strong stereotype that a woman's role is to stay at home and look after children.
Kotala does not like asking for donations, so the program is funded through partnerships with other businesses, as well as selling their own designs through a local Charity Shop.