We are still productive irrespective of age until we choose to let go and for Anne Asiimwe who retired in 1995, from then Nile Bank, sitting at home to wait for pension was not an option.
“After retirement, I looked for something to do. Although I had several ideas, after considering the challenges that came with the various businesses, I decided to go with tailoring and crafts.”
That decision was also inspired by visits to women in the neighbourhood, who were operating similar businesses. “Inasmuch as I had never tailored before, I got interested and started my journey.”
Capital and starting
Lacking in skill, Asiimwe went to Tina International School of Beauty for two years for professional training which cost her Shs3m.
Thereafter, she was ready to set the sails moving. “The training and starting of the business cost her Shs10m, of which Shs5m came from her savings and the other Shs5m from her husband.”
Unlike many perceptions, Asiimwe’s company, ATA Collections, is registered as a sole proprietorship business.
“The process to get my business registered was not that cumbersome because on going to the registrar’s office, I was given a list of requirements and information that I needed in order to complete the registration process. Among the requirements was a letter from the LC1, two passport photos and registration fee of Shs125,000. The process took me two days to complete.”
Asiimwe ensures that her products get off the shelf through hawking which she does alongside the girls that work with her, giving out business cards to friends, at events and the like.
“I also take my products to various craft shops and make use of social media platforms such as Facebook and WhatsApp.”
Using these marketing platforms has brought in more clients for Asiimwe who deals in men’s shirts which are priced between Shs50,000 and Shs100,000 and various bags types that go for between Shs20,000 and Shs50,000.
“This has led to increased sales and in turn profits. Using these, I have bought more machines such as embroidery machines and an overlock machine,” she says. Asiimwe is also able to do what she is passionate about, without regrets or getting tired of working hard.
More to that, Asiimwe has ably contributed to her children’s education, contributed to starting a farm in Mbarara and can also support her mother in the village.
There is no business without hurdles and Asiimwe has had a fair share of these as well.
Some of these are clients who do not pay promptly which affects her plans. More to that, seeing that crafts are almost everywhere, competition is high.
“I continue to sail through by improving the current designs and making advanced unique designs.”
Besides that, Asiimwe talks about the high KCCA tariffs that eat into her profits as well as unskilled labour she has encountered who are unable to produce some products.
Apart from the training that launched her into her tailoring business, Asiimwe attended the Women in Business mentorship programme and she says it was if great help. “It has helped me to identify and became aware of current designs, trends and costing,” Asiimwe shares.
More to that, networking has also been a huge benefit from this programme as she has met people that she believes will help her on this business journey not to mention sharing of information.
“I want to have a big workshop supplying a large customer base. I also want patent rights for my products,” Asiimwe smiles.
Advice on material
Before beginning a sewing project, you will need several basic tools. In addition to fabric, two of the most important are a needle and thread.
Sewing needles are long, thin objects with a small eye, or hole, at one end and a sharp point on the other for piercing the fabric.
They are typically made of metal. The process of inserting the thread through the eye is where the phrase ‘’threading the needle’’ originated.
Needles come in many sizes and types. A regular sewing needle, sometimes called a sharp, is typically used for general hand sewing.
Other types of needles include embroidery needles. These have large eyes to accommodate thicker threads and rather blunt ends so they don’t pull on the heavy fabric backings used for embroidery projects.
Threads are thin strands of fibre used to sew pieces of fabric together or to create decorative work on fabric surfaces.
Examples include polyester thread, an all-purpose, commonly used material used for hand and machine sewing. Embroidery thread consists of multiple strands twisted together for a thick, soft feel.