Kitenge’s founder, Sian, first met Hassan when he was working in a shared workshop with Abdallah, Kitenge’s main tailor in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. She wondered why Hassan was the only tailor who Abdallah trusted in the workshop to help him with our orders.
Hassan working in the shared workshop in Dar es Salaam (2015)
After Sian helped Abdallah to buy an overlocker machine, so he could start working from home, she went to visit him to see his progress and was pleasantly surprised to find Hassan working alongside him!
Hassan explained that after Abdallah started to work from home he also left the shared workshop and moved back to his home town of Arusha (a city in the north of Tanzania). He was currently visiting Abdallah and was working on a large order for a wedding.
It was great to see them at work and watch how they skillfully produce the clothing. Working with similar beautiful fabric as they use to create Kitenge’s African wax print clothing, they were busy producing a stunning range of clothing for the whole bridal party.
This was where Sian discovered that Abdallah had taught Hassan to sew when he was younger when they lived in Arusha together. Sian stayed in touch with Hassan and during her first trip to Arusha arranged to visit him at his workshop that he impressively built from scratch by himself!
Hassan and Sian outside his workshop in Arusha, Tanzania (2016)
There is no power at the workshop so it is convenient that Hassan uses a treadle sewing machine and a battery light when it gets dark early in the evenings. There is enough space for two people to work in his workshop and he has hired an apprentice to work with him. The workshop is conveniently located close to a university on the outskirts of the city so he often receives orders from the students as they walk to and from class.
While Sian was there she treated Hassan to lunch at a local restaurant. She was surprised and amused that when they later returned to the workshop. Hassan had not bothered to lock the door, as he wasn’t worried about anybody coming to steal anything!
Hassan’s sewing machines at his workshop in Arusha, Tanzania
The sewing machine Hassan’s apprentice uses
The battery light Hassan uses when it gets dark early
Since Sian visited Hassan in Arusha, Abdallah opened his very own workshop for the first time in Dar es Salaam using the profits from our orders. He has since hired Hassan to help him work on our orders during peak times. It was brilliant to hear this news, Abdallah and Hassan are such talented tailors that we’re really excited to have them both working on Kitenge’s modern African clothing. Hassan still owns and works at his own workshop in Arusha and travels back and forth by bus to Dar es Salaam when Abdallah needs his support. He is very loyal to Abdallah and they have a great working relationship.
Watch an interview with Hassan in Abdallah’s new workshop where he talks about the challenges he faces in business in Tanzania as well as his plans for the future.
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