Former Mrs South Africa finalist creates jobs in Alexandria

Former Mrs South Africa finalist Michelle Sky Hayward, who used to reside in Alexandria, recently started a business called I Choose South Africa that makes African print clothing for children, in so doing creating job opportunities for women in Alexandria.

CREATING CLOTHES: Josephine Somerset, one of the seamstresses at a new clothing factory in Alexandria, at work on the ‘I Choose South Africa’ children’s clothing range

The clothing business started in December and has already provided work for two women in the area.

Hayward is based in Cape Town, but all the clothes and the sewing is done in Alexandria.

“So far I have only employed two women in Alexandria. One that helps me out with the designing and that also creates the patterns and helps with the sewing and then a seamstress who makes all the clothing,” Hayward said.

“The reason I created this business is so that I can give back to Alexandria by employing as many people as possible. There are so many talented women there who do not have jobs, and so many women who would benefit from being trained in the sewing industry. I am working as hard as I can to make sure this business is a success, so that I can employ more women and establish a bigger factory,” she said.

She named the business I Choose South Africa because she loves South Africa and everything it has to offer. She said she chooses to live here and to make any positive difference that she can. She also added that she loves the rich culture and history that South Africa has, as well as all the different landscapes, people and tribes.

“I had the most wonderful childhood growing up in Alexandria, so I really want to give back to that community. I am fortunate that my parents still live there, so they can help me out with the factory and my different projects when I can’t be there. And my mom runs the factory and helps out wherever she can with making the clothing. My big dream would be to have a huge factory there, so that there would be no unemployment in the town and surrounding areas,” Hayward said.

“Everyone should have access to a job that they love and I want to provide that for Alexandria. I also don’t want it to be a conventional factory. I want it to be a place where my employees love going. A place of inspiration, hope and colour!

“The chicory factory in the town is amazing, and it provides so much employment for the men in the area, but we need something like that for the women in the town. Once we grow, we can also buy more fabric and sewing machines that we desperately need. I also have plans to start training courses, where we would offer free sewing lessons to women and then provide them with employment within the business,” Hayward said.

BY NTOMBENTSHA MSUTU

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