Sophie makes products for Save the Rain. She has built a business training at-risk women to sew. By purchasing Sophie’s creations, you not only help her and the women and girls in her sewing school, but you are also providing clean water and food security to people in Tanzania.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays, Tengeru Market is a chaotic cacophony of life – loud, brash, colorful sass spills over stalls and into the road. Sophie’s shop is just off the main drag. It’s a small room walled with brightly colored cloth. Her sewing machine is halfway through a pretty frill, and a stack of finished dresses is piled behind it. Luckily, we’re here on a Tuesday, which makes it easier to hear her – she’s soft-spoken and gentle in her manner.
Two things are unusual about her story.
First, she is unmarried and has no children in a culture that is unquestioningly the norm. Second, her father highly valued the importance of education in a culture where schooling is often considered wasted on girls.
Sophie could have studied as much as she wanted, but she had other ideas. When she was a child, one of their neighbors was a seamstress. Sophie loved to watch her work after class. As customers came and went, she also saw what a good business it was. So, as soon as she finished high school, she went to a vocational training college to learn how to sew.
Perhaps the two things are connected.
Sophie is quietly emphatic when she states the importance of independence, not relying on anyone. She has always wanted a good life – and when you answer only to yourself, you have a much better chance of ensuring that.
She started by making children’s clothes, taking them to church to sell. Each sale allowed her to buy more fabric, make more clothes and sell more. Soon, customers were placing orders. She began sewing women’s dresses. She explains that men get their clothes made by male tailors – perhaps because they think women aren’t good enough.
Save the Rain meets Sophie
Then one day, Save the Rain commissioned a bag. She laughs as she tells us how long it took her to figure out how to replicate the sample. Now, she makes all the Save the Rain’s yoga and grocery bags. They are bright, beautiful creations that fill the online store with textures of Tanzania.
Not only has it expanded her repertoire, but it boosted business too. With her profits, she bought a piece of land and built herself a house. She’s the epitome of an independent woman.
Finding Success and Fulfillment
And just as she idolized her seamstress neighbor, she’s inspired other women and young girls with her success. Sophie opened a sewing school for girls who couldn’t continue their education and at-risk women. She teaches them to sew and to have their own trade and agency in their lives. If you don’t have skills that you can sell – she shakes her head. She’s seen too many girls having to sell themselves instead.
And knowing her creations are being worn and used by people in America – she smiles. Now that feels like success.
You can support Sophie and Save the Rain by shopping at our online store.