Two sisters are launching a fashion company in Edmonton this Friday — and their wares will help women affected by poverty in Uganda.
The clothes are designed in Edmonton by Lorna Mutegyeki and made in Uganda using fabrics sourced from across Africa.
But Msichana is more than a clothing company; it’s a program that gives women workplace, financial and literacy training.
Lorna Mutegyeki moved to Edmonton 13 years ago and says she wants to use fashion to help women break their dependence on charity.
“Oftentimes, they have challenges to get into the workforce or they are stuck working lower-paying jobs,” says Lorna of women in her native Uganda.
Lorna’s sister Suzanne Mutegyeki is visiting Edmonton for the fashion line’s launch.
“They are not just getting jobs; they are getting skills and they’re getting confidence,” she says of Msichana’s seamstresses.
“We also equip them with financial skills and other ways in which they can go out and be successful business people.”
It can be hard for women with dependents or other responsibilities to also juggle a job. To combat that, Msichana allows flexible hours. The seamstresses get health care and two meals a day at work.
The fabrics are chosen from other ethical businesses in Africa, including women’s organizations and cooperatives.
“We want it to be a way for people here to experience the African culture through their clothing,” says Lorna, sporting a jacket made with fabric from Tanzania.
It’s a family affair for the Mutegyekis. Their mom Rosebell is also a fashion designer and is back home sharing her knowledge with program participants.
“They have skills and they are brainy and smart, they just need the opportunity to realize those and put them to use and get paid for it,” Lorna says.
Msichana launches to the public at NAIT Friday, Dec. 15. There is a fashion show at 5 p.m., with shows Saturday and Sunday afternoon as well.