Clothing label launch helps women in crisis

GARMENTS crafted from generous donations were snapped up at a pop-up shop in Chichester this week.

Launching My Sisters Makers, from left, apprentice Hollyann Tullett, 18, creative designer Clare Tyler and apprentice Jade Sherwill, 21 
Launching My Sisters Makers, from left, apprentice Hollyann Tullett, 18, creative designer Clare Tyler and apprentice Jade Sherwill, 21 LP1502739

The two-day shop in Southgate on Monday and Tuesday saw the launch of a new eco fashion label, My Sisters’ Makers. It is the trading arm of My Sisters’ House (MSH), the Arun and Chichester women’s centre based in London Road, Bognor Regis.

Hollyann Tullett, digital marketing apprentice, said: “Our customers, volunteers and models were fantastic and really supported us with the launch and pop-up shop. Everyone has been able to walk away from the shop with bespoke, upcycled garments, crafted from generous donations, with a smile on their face.

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“It has been a exhilarating few days, though exhausted we are delighted with the final result. This is just the beginning and we will only improve and expand with the continuation of all this support.”

The My Sisters' Makers eco friendly clothing label LP1502737

The women’s centre, a community interest company which helps hundreds of women from the area, was launched earlier this year.

The all-female team successfully secured £18,500 from The Roddick Foundation in June, 2014, to fund a development manager post to oversee, raise awareness and cultivate a vibrant, women centred social enterprise in West Sussex.

Director Joanne Webb said: “Bognor Regis is our hometown and has serious areas of deprivation. We therefore launched an intermediary drop-in office in the heart of the town centre so that our community could begin to access us.

“Our board of directors is made up entirely of women. We are committed to this ambitious project and help to build our campaign through our voices, strengths, capabilities and skills, alongside an expanding team of volunteers.”

The aim is to create a fresh kind of pioneering women’s centre, a one-stop shop of services for women of all ages and circumstances, with an upcycling trading arm running alongside.

The first collection was launched at an exclusive VIP event at Slanemiller – Nails By Design, on Sunday, including a fashion show and auction of the first coat made from donated clothing.

Joanne said: “We aim to create a new, recognised and a well-loved eco clothing label. We know it’s hard – but we are different.

“Our enterprise strives to build conscious consumerism, redefining women’s issues through an innovative grassroots scheme. We want to help women with a number of issues, such as debt, mental health and domestic violence, create jobs and opportunities in our community.”

In order to ensure the long-term sustainability of My Sister’s House Makers, two creative designers have been employed to lead the project into the future.

Georgina Bruton, the talented fashion designer, and Clare Tyler, a highly-qualified seamstress, will be getting support from Chichester College. Two young women will be given first-hand experience in sewing and fashion design through apprenticeships.

Joanne said: “The response from the community has been extraordinary and this has provided our grassroots venture with much-needed evidence that there are gaps in local provision that MSH can fill.

“We want to address the range of social problems which a woman might face rather than focusing on single issues and the scheme will Improve the lives of women facing a combination of the following – unemployment, extreme poverty, violence and abuse, loneliness, social isolation, homelessness, substance misuse, mental illness and disadvantage, along with any other personal crisis that might unbalance their world.”

Since June, MSH has offered a drop-in service, Monday to Friday, 9am to 3pm, and a domestic abuse surgery, Tuesday 5pm to 8pm, and Saturday morning 9am to 11am. It also runs SHINE confidence courses.

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