Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about yourself and your background
My name is Danny Sekibo. I’m from WEPT, Women Empowerment Project and Training. We support the Fauzia group, which is a sewing group at The Curve where we are teaching them how to construct garments. WEPT stepped in to support them after we heard that Fauzia who founded the sewing group had perished in the Grenfell disaster. So, in honour of her, we stepped in to help the group, and bring them to a level where they will be able to sustain themselves and learn new skills.
In terms of my own background, I have my own fashion menswear brand. It’s called Zobia. I’ve been in retail for over 25 years with multiple shops, and then I did creative industries post-graduate degree at the London Met.
Why did you apply to the Westway Trust Festival & Events Fund?
Because we felt that the people should hear about this wonderful story about this group of women. And to also hear the story of what they’ve been through, and how they’ve moved from where they were, having been involved in this unfortunate, sad situation, to where they are now. In a place that they’re happy, they’re proud and they’re showing off the new skills they’ve learned. And also make garments for themselves and be able to parade it in the presence of their community, friends and family.
Apart from the Westway Trust, we are also working with KCC, the Kensington and Chelsea College to see how they can help us to get them to do a certificate completion. It’s so important that they have something to show for the time they’ve spent. And we’re also talking with Westway about selling some of the garments in a popup shop.
How did the fashion show and exhibition idea com about?
We started teaching the women how to use commercial patterns to make garments, how to grade them to their sizes. And we saw the need and the desire to learn. And they were making beautiful stuff. I thought, fantastic, how do we share this with the rest of the community? That’s how we started talking about doing a fashion show. And the exhibition was to show people, see how far these women have come. They’ve been coming every Tuesday and learning new skills, and look at what they’ve done.
What was your favourite moment from the show?
Just to see the faces of these women change. You know, in the morning, they panicked. Some said no, they will not do it. They will not do it. They can’t do it. We said, look, you’ve come this far. When they first went on stage they rushed and then suddenly realized that, wow, everyone is clapping, and then, they came alive. And at the end… such joy!
What are your future ambitions?
We want more people to get involved. We want more people to take advantage of this program. So what we are going to do is have two groups, the drop-in group and the structured group, where the ones that have gone through the first stage can now move on to do bigger and better stuff.
And then the new ones can also come in to do the initial beginners class or the drop-in and that would be their conduit. So you move from beginner into structured, move from drop-in into structured. And then we are looking to get accreditation for them to do pattern cutting or garment making in KCC as a pathway.
Has the fashion show helped your project?
Yes, it has really stirred interest. Because a lot of people now realize that this program is running and this is the outcome of it.
And now we have also attracted people who have a certain level of competence and who want to further improve their skills. That fashion show has really created more interest within the community, and we’re very proud that we could do that.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
We have big ideas for these groups and we will need support locally to help us move them forward.
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