Monday, May 4, 2009

Bea has a Business Plan and Original Designs

Our first day in Liberia we met Bea who arrived at our guest house armed with her portfolios and seamstress tools. She measured each of us and we selected a design from her huge portfolio of styles. Liberian custom is no pattern- just pick out a picture of the style you like and within 48 hours a beautiful, custom fitted garment is yours.

Bea's immaculate, well-organized home/business is a single room that functions as sewing studio, fitting room for clients and her personal sleeping/living quarters. We spent such a fun afternoon there thumbing through fashion magazines (to pick out styles for ourselves), having head ties and shoulder pieces styled and oohing and aahing over the beautiful fabrics and sample garments and designs she was preparing for an upcoming fashion show.

Our gracious host, Rev. Sam-Peal, was well-prepared to take care of his three women guests and anticipated our every need. Based on his experience with other female foreign guests, he made arrangements for us to acquire African dresses before we even arrived on Liberian soil. Our host, as it turns out, is quite the fashion consultant! Emile's suggestions for what we should have Bea make for us had us howling with laughter!

Bea is a full-time undergraduate student at University of Liberia studying for her Bachelor's degree in Business Administration. Despite the challenges of unreliable electricity (she often finishes garments by candlelight in order to meet the Liberian standard 48-hour deadline for custom-tailored clothing), tuition payments, and unsteady income, she has developed a viable business plan for her stunning custom styles and designs.

Bea designs exquisite decorative stitch work very popular on African clothing. She has limited access (late nights, other odd times) to a rented machine for the intricate, original stitchery work and rental costs seriously erode her very slim profit margin.

There is a group of professional women working with LOEP to develop options such as micro loans to assist this talented, hard-working woman with her business plan. Contact me for more information on how to become involved.

1 comment:

  1. While I am by no means an authority on fashion, I can certainly appreciate the beautiful garments that this woman turns out. She even made a stunning shirt for me based solely on measurements delivered via email without ever seeing me! It fit too!