Meet Sabina Ansari.
How a seamstress used newfound smartphone skills to learn her craft, build a business, and teach others to do the same.
5 Minute read
Sabina takes inventory of her long list of orders: satin blouses in gold and cream, skirts and dresses with gathered waists and ribbon details.
Her packed work days are a change from just a few years ago, when Sabina was looking for work only to be told that no one would hire a stay-at-home mother with a long gap on her professional resume. But today, Sabina is her own boss, a businesswoman crafting beautiful garments for clients of all ages.
After numerous employers turned her down because she had been out of the workforce caring for her children, Sabina’s career shift finally began when she saw an advertisement for Teach People Digital Empowerment. The NGO gives volunteers smartphones so that they can learn to use them and then educate others in their communities about the internet and technology. Sabina was accepted into the six-month program and began learning to navigate her new Android (Go edition) smartphone, then demonstrating its use to others.
As she was exploring her new device, she began to research sewing videos on YouTube. Sabina had always enjoyed sewing, but she had never had the resources to learn to make patterns or clothing. As she watched various YouTube tutorials, Sabina imagined all the clothes she could make for her young daughter. And so, she decided to give it a shot, quickly producing bright, detailed dresses for her two-year-old to wear.
“Although I live in a small village, the women like to dress fashionably. So, my neighbors noticed my daughter’s clothing, and asked if I could make them blouses to wear under their sarees.”
What happened next was unexpected. “Although I live in a small village, the women like to dress fashionably,” Sabina says. “So, my neighbors noticed my daughter’s clothing, and asked if I could make them blouses to wear under their sarees.”
Sabina agreed. “When I presented what I made, they loved it,” she remembers. Soon, more and more customers came to her, and she was able to make 3,000 to 4,000 Rupees a month. She turned to YouTube on her Android phone to learn how to refit and reshape clothing, and soon expanded her business to include tailoring. She also downloaded YouTube videos that showed how to make everything from box pleated skirts to draped dhoti salwar pants, allowing her to expand her offerings. Sabina began to emulate fashion designers she saw in videos and experimented with different styles of women’s wear and Kharta, a loose collarless shirt worn by men and women. YouTube tutorials also helped her learn about different fabrics—cotton, polyester, and silk—and how to work with them.
“Now I am independent, and my reputation as a seamstress has grown. Today, people call me the Bollywood Tailor.”
What’s more, Sabina was able to expand her clientele with the help of Maps Go. Before she had an Android phone, Sabina used to rely on her husband to take her where she needed to go. But now, with Maps Go, she was able to look up her clients’ addresses and directions to their homes. With the help of the application, she was also able to travel to different villages on her own and offer her services to a greater number of people. “Now, I am independent, and my reputation as a seamstress has grown,” Sabina says. “Today, people call me the Bollywood Tailor”—her most popular styles influenced by fashion seen in the film industry.
Though the coronavirus pandemic has slowed business, Sabina is still working towards her ultimate goal: opening her own store, where she can offer classes to other young women who want to learn to sew. For now, she is focused on using her savings to launch a line of school uniforms and to create a trademark logo for herself. Sabina also continues to educate other women in her community about the internet, showing them her Android (Go edition) smartphone and explaining how it allowed her to carve out her own opportunities.
“It’s wild for me to think that just a year ago, I had nothing. I was jobless,” Sabina says. “But today, I am a businesswoman and an entrepreneur with big dreams and the confidence to achieve them.
How Sabina does it.
Sabina originally used YouTube to learn the basics of pattern making, but as demand for her designs increased, she turned to the application to learn about tailoring, working with various materials, and how to create a trademark logo.
Sabina downloads YouTube tutorials on various designs and studies them offline, so that she can turn to them whenever she needs help with a project to save data.
Sabina uses Maps Go to look up new clients’ locations and figure out how to get there, allowing her to travel independently and to expand her radius of clientele.Learn more
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