A few years ago, my family and I returned to the small village in Togo, West Africa, where I met my husband. The trip was quite an adventure for all of us, but especially my 11 year old daughter and my 8 year old son. We flew into Accra, the capital of Ghana, and since our village is right on the Togo/Ghana border, we decided to borrow a car and drive to Togo.
But before we could hit the road for the village, we needed to get some proper clothes. Few people in Ghana or Togo wear ready-made clothes for special occasions. Instead, they go the market, pick out beautiful cloth and take it to a tailor or seamstress. Every tailor has lots of designs to choose from, but they can also work from a drawing, or copy a picture.
To get our clothes, we headed over to meet Sharon at Eunice’s sewing shop. Her team makes sundresses and bags for Unique Batik. My husband, children and I all picked out gorgeous batik cloth made by Ester, one of Unique Batik’s master artisans. Then we selected clothing patterns. My husband and son got shirts with collars using my husband’s favorite shirt as a model. My daughter and I selected outfits with short sleeve blouses and skirts based on a Unique Batik standard pattern. Then one of the women carefully took all of our measurements. We could hardly wait to see the finished result.
Three days later we went back to the shop to pick up our new clothes. We had a great time trying on everything. The fit was perfect!! However, I still felt like something was missing. The clothes we had selected were very American in style. I realized that I wanted something more African to wear home to the village. I saw a kelly green skirt and top with orange Kente panels and ruffles. I was in LOVE!. It was a one of a kind piece that a seamstress made as a sample. I asked to try it on, and after a couple of quick alterations, I was dressed to party. My husband also picked up a traditional outfit with long tunic and baggy pants called a boubou. When we got to our villages, everyone was really excited to welcome us. There were several parties, and our African clothes got a lot of nods and smiles.
I am delighted that Unique Batik supports the important tradition of small sewing workshops in Ghana. These shops have nothing in common with factories. The workers listen to music, sing, stop to chat with customers and radiate a sense of pride in their work. Although Unique Batik can’t send your measurements to Ghana, we can offering handmade products sewn in a safe, happy workplace.