This past year at the Sseko workshop, things have been busy with the introduction of the new t-strap sandals and a lot of growth. Instead of colorful ribbon straps, these sandals come with carefully hand-beaded accessories, and a whole lot more steps in assembly. This has dramatically changed the way we work, and most days we’re less focused on individual teams and more on Sseko as a whole. The women have learned to be flexible because some days our talented seamstresses find themselves assembling leather sandal straps, or our most expert beaders head over to the other side of the workshop to help iron sandal ribbons. While everyone has amazed us with their positive attitudes and a willingness to learn new things, they each definitely have their favorite workstation.
Florence loves to use the finishing machine. This big, intimidating machine sits at the corner of the workshop near a door and a ventilator, and is one of the last stops for ribbon sandals and t-straps. It’s used to sand the edges of the sandals, to remove any excess glue and make sure the edges are smooth and even. Florence says that machine was scary at first, but she learned in a month. Now she’s the resident expert.
Stella enjoys beading at the accessories station. When asked why, she shakes her head and sighs happily. She’s always beading- even at home, she’s surrounded by beads, as she makes and sells paper jewelry in her free time.
Susan also loves beading, and has been working with the accessories team for over two years now. Her favorite piece to make is the mojave accent. We had a long-standing record of beading twelve pairs in a day, but last year, Susan bumped that record up to seventeen!
Khamiat enjoys “turning,” which is the station where the fabric ribbons are turned right-side-out after sewing. She likes the station because she’s good at it, even though she thinks Stella Jr. is the best of the new class. She’s planning to keep working hard, though, and her goal is to beat Stella Jr.’s record.
Robinah’s favorite job is sewing which, fortunately, is the station where she is most frequently assigned. She prefers the cotton solid straps because they are easy to sew, but she learned to stitch chiffons very quickly.
Aunt Jennifer is easily one of the most hard-working and cheerful women at Sseko. She’s always willing to lend a hand at any task, and perhaps that’s why she couldn’t pick a favorite. She likes gluing the sandals, looping and sewing the cord for the ribbon sandals, and using the new bench grinders to sand the edges of the straps for t-strap sandals.
We’re proud of their accomplishments and expertise in each of these stations, and happy to see such a variety of interests and favorites.