Maja Kotala started off as a model, and now she’s using her mastery of fashion design to change the lives of women in Kenya.
It all started in 2018 when the Polish model created an educational program she calls Sewing Together. Their mission is to give Kenyan women the tools they need to use fashion as a means of income.
The incredible project, which has a partnership with Salvation Army Kenya, offers free courses to women who are interested in starting their own fashion line. The three-month course covers everything their students need to know before selling their beautiful creations.
Some of what they learn includes drawing, pattern making, sewing, and designing. They focus on business skills, photography, and marketing, and they even offer yoga and meditation classes.
As wonderful as it is now, making this program a reality wasn’t easy. Between Maja’s father passing away, the pandemic, and her failed first attempt, there were many hurdles along the way.
“Uganda was the first trip and I have to admit I didn’t like it,” Maja said. “I came back home it was so hard. The culture difference was so big, I didn’t know if I wanted to continue with it.”
With time, Maja found that her desire to empower women around the world was too strong not to give this another shot. So she made her way to Nairobi and has since completed the program’s first course. Twenty of their graduates already have products available to purchase online.
“I have just finished with one group who are ready to fly,” she said. “The next group has started and they have amazing energy. They want to change their lives, they want to help me in changing the lives of other people, and I couldn’t be more thankful and grateful.”
On top of the fashion design course, Sewing Together is fighting period poverty by creating reusable pads.
“In Kenya, many girls use unsanitary forms of protection such as sand, feathers, and grass leaves,” their website reads. “Many young girls who do not have access to safe, hygienic products stay at home throughout the cycle, with huge consequences. … It is estimated that about 1 million women miss school per month.”
The Sewing Together team has been working hard to make the world a better place, and Maja couldn’t be prouder.
“Life is more than what you see,” their website says. “By giving and sharing dreams we are capable to do more and get stronger together.”
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