Meet The Makers: Mona
Mona is a pillar of the local community in Bow, East London, a talented teacher and seamstress. She machine embroiders all of our best selling slogan t-shirts. She's also now employing local women to help her.
Mona teaches sewing to women and adults with learning disabilities from her community workshop, Bow Sewing Centre on the Gayton Estate in Tower Hamlets. Many are out of work, and survivors of domestic abuse. The sewing centre offers a safe and therapeutic space for her students to learn, come together, and find support.
The work provided by Birdsong accounts for up to 80% of Mona's total revenue. She uses this to reinvest in machinery and employ students, with some going on to start businesses of their own.
On her work.
"I’ve been running sewing classes for the local community for the past twenty years, here in Bow. They are mostly for women from different backgrounds: young mothers, young children, and people who don’t speak much English, or English as their second language.
I teach them sewing, dress making and to make soft furnishings for their homes. They learn a lot over a one year course. The following year is advanced sewing. All of these activities are creating jobs for the community. Some parents were working here with me after completing the course. With the new t-shirt printer Birdsong are in investing in for us, we’ll be able to hire more local women.
I am proud to be one of the Birdsong makers (providing embroidery services). I have never felt that I am displaced as a migrant, feeling lost or I can’t fit in, but working with them has always made me feel at home, comfortable, accepted, safe, and understood. As a migrant myself, they support migrants and create job opportunities.
"Birdsong have a strong impact, they help me grow my business because they know how to sell and can help me market my business in ways I couldn't. There is harmony between our ways of working, we understand each other."
They also support our learning and the running of classes. I admire their commitment and vision of enabling women from different background (my students and myself) to become independent, with no limitations such as who we are or where we come from or where we live, as they provide job opportunities to many of my students. By providing work they give more opportunities to students to gain work experience."
On the power of community.
"Through the classes, we got some suggestions from parents in the local area with complaints about school uniforms. They found them too expensive and not locally available. My group of students, some mums, got together and decided to solve this problem. They bought the uniforms wholesale which is cheaper, and got an agreement to get the school logos. They now work with 3 schools in the local area, and I embroider the logos on the uniforms."