Charlotte, African Dressmaker
When Charlotte, a refugee from the Congo, arrived in Tucson with her husband and four children in 2008, she wasted little time in finding ways to support herself and her family. A skilled tailor with more than twenty years’ experience in the sewing business, Charlotte wanted to put her passion for sewing and dressmaking to work in her new home.
Photo Credit: Yasmin Badri/IRC
With her background as a business owner in the Congo and as a teacher for a United Nations (UN) Sewing Project for Women, she knew she was a great candidate for a loan through the International Rescue Committee’s Microenterprise Development Program. With the $2,000 loan she received from the IRC, she was able to invest in an embroidery machine and pay for other business start-up costs incurred when she launched Charlotte, African Dressmaker.
To help market her home-based business, Charlotte has continued to work with the IRC’s Microenterprise Development Program to create business cards, participate in and sell clothing at cultural festivals such as Tucson Meet Yourself and RefugeeFEST. Her promotional and networking efforts have paid off – she recently completed an order for 24 members of an African church here in Tucson. She has paid off her first loan in full, and is now working with the IRC to expand her business.
“My dream is to maintain my business in the U.S. and serve the refugee community,” Charlotte said. “Also, I would like to teach other refugee women how to tailor like I did for the UN Women’s Center in Ethiopia.”
To place an order for a custom-made dress from Charlotte, African Dressmaker, contact Charlotte Nsabaka at 520-790-5376.