Model Quits The Catwalk To Teach Sewing And Design To Underprivileged Women

August 25, 2021

A successful model from Poland has ditched the catwalk to go to Kenya and teach sewing and design to underprivileged women.

Maja Kotala Sewing Together
Credit: Maja Kotala / Sewing Together

In 2018, 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 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.

Maja Kotala Sewing Together
Credit: Maja Kotala / Sewing Together

The sewing training lasts about a month. The project's success is based on that fact that educated women train new ones.

"After six months they create and interpret drawings. At this time, I can create a workplace for them," Kotala said.

She does not like asking for donations, so the program is funded through partnerships with other businesses, as well as selling their own designs through the Charity Shop.

Maja Kotala Sewing Together
Credit: Maja Kotala / Sewing Together

Why Africa?

Kotala says after living in Australia and Paris, she found her place in Africa.

"Africa is beautiful, colorful and open. I've never come across such a good attitude," she said. "So I had the strength to fight for these talented girls."

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.

 

"One of my students comes from a Muslim family and she is not allowed to go to college," says Kotala.

"We had a single mother with a child who was kicked out by her family because she was pregnant before marriage and was banned for two years... We have girls who were forced by their parents to learn the so-called specific professions."

What does the future hold for Kotala?

"I am a nomad. For now, I'm here and I'm happy, but how long will I stay? Hard to say. I want the girls to take over what I'm doing as soon as possible so that I can develop the idea of ​​Sewing Together in another country."

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