In Zimbabwe there are very few locals skilled in design of traditional costumes apart from a few specialist outlets in the capital city. Taking advantage of the continental trend, a group of skilled women in Gweru have set up a thriving textiles project known as Temash Exclusive Centre, that specializes in the design and production of African attire as it is an instant hit business enterprise for many West African countries, where the clothes are made with colours representing various tribes and considered essential at traditional events.
The ladies import the fabric from countries like Zambia, Malawi, Tanzania, Egypt, Nigeria and Ghana and use their professional skills to design top class outfits for children and adults of both sexes.
Temash Exclusive Centre, the premises on sixth street have become the single largest point where individuals, institutions and safari companies throng for supplies of the outfits. Their project is the only one where designs of special foreign fabrics like Mama Africa, Egypt Batik, Diamond Wax and Polytop can be found. Local makes like Poly-cotton, Fleece and Mandy are also available.
The ladies have acquired heavy industrial machinery after having just started with small-holder machines. Scattered sewing notions like threads, pieces of cloths, fasteners such as zippers, buttons, and snaps, needles and pins and seam rippers confirm to any visitor that the place is a hive of activity.
The interior appearance of the project may surely be mistaken for the now defunct lint-processor and textile manufacturer David Whitehead, which used to have thriving branches in Gweru, Kadoma and Chegutu. The project, which has been going for five years, is the brainchild of Tenderai Marusho, 50. Their main specialty has been the cutting and designing of African attire. That is what they are famous for. However, schools and churches have also approached them to make uniforms for them.
They have also produced the finest wedding gowns and clothing for such events, while some local colleges have also roped them in for the designing of graduation suits. This has all been because of the confidence people have in them due to their skills and professionalism.
Margaret Ndawana, 52, tasked with managing imports of materials. Mazda Pfunde, 25, only had theoretical knowledge about textiles but when she joined the venture after graduating in 2005 from the Great Zimbabwe College, where she trained in cutting and designing, she amassed great experience. She has been groomed and given hands-on experience. Elizabeth Mumanyiri, 33, holder of a Tailoring, Cutting and Designing certificate from Makoni Community college, has invested some proceeds from the venture into a separate business of buying and selling finished casual wear from South Africa. She has opened a flea-market stall that has become popular with casual wear for all age groups in the city. While, Prisca Nyamayaro is the marketing point-person of the venture.
At present they have been centralized in Gweru. However, they have a very big ambition of reaching out to other cities because at present some of their clients travel all the way from places like Bulawayo, Harare, Kadoma, Kwekwe and Mutare. In future, the ladies expect to fulfil their ambition of opening other branches in the countryâ€™s major cities and open up employment opportunities for other women. The venture is now equally owned by the ladies.
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