Our clothes tell a story…. from the disadvantaged women who take pride in producing beautiful garments as a means of providing for their families. To the unique fabrics which have been thoughtfully sourced in Africa. To the statement you make when you wear oh so shika. To the vulnerable young people who are given a real chance to change their lives through education thanks to profits generated by oh so Shika garments. Passionate about Africa!
The oh so Shika story
Who are we?
We are a collaboration of hard working and talented women from two continents who have come together to make beautiful sustainable fashion. Our clothing is mostly designed in the UK by designers who know Africa well, are passionate about the the continent and its potential as a destination for trade and fashion. We love spending time there sourcing the best African prints and trims to make our garments. The fabric stays in Africa where a group of talented but disadvantaged women transform it into stunning African print dresses, skirts and jackets.
While we are passionate about our clothing, we are also passionate about some of the issues causing the biggest problems in Africa. Poverty, lack of education, lack of trade opportunities. We want to use our clothing to not only to reflect the promise, passion and ability available in the continent but also how trade with Africa can work and can pose a viable business option to those looking for manufacturing opportunities there.
Did you know?
“Africa will have the world’s fastest-growing economy during the next five years of any continent”
According to the International Monetary Fund, 7 out of 10 of the world’s fastest growing economies will be African.
Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria expected to expand by more than 6 per cent a year until 2015.
While we want to shout about the economic potential of Africa, we also want to promote sustainable, economic development and wise investment in the future of Tanzania through education. And this is exactly what we do with oh so Shika.
Why are our clothes so special? They look special because we source the best fabrics from Africa ourselves. We use small quantities of each print fabric so every garment is a limited edition. It is highly unlikely that you will ever meet somebody wearing the same garment. Each piece feels special because it has been produced by a great group of talented but happy people whose work enables them to earn a fair wage, doing something they love. Our garments are not churned out on a production line in their thousands every day. Each garment is laboured over by individual seamstresses who add their personal touches. These women are poor by western standards but their jobs with oh so Shika enables them to support their families and provide them with best chance they will get to work their way out of poverty. In addition, all profits generated by oh so Shika support Shika’s educational programmes to wisely invest in Tanzania’s future generations
Who benefits from the dress you buy? Everyone from the small scale fabric sellers that we purchase our fabric from to the women who earn a good wage producing our clothing. Ultimately the vulnerable children and young people we support through our educational programmes benefit as all the profits go to help finance our other activities.
How is our clothing made?
Our clothing is made in a small workshop in the deprived area of Sinone in Arusha. Located in the heart of the community, it is easily accessible for the women in the oh so Shika producer group. It is very small scale. We don’t use big factories with hundreds of machinists. We have just four at the moment. We use limited electricity. Electricity isn’t always readily available in the community. Our sturdy old singer machines are powered by good old pedal power – literally. Our irons are mostly powered by charcoal – not electricity. Our workshop isn’t hi-tech which means much of the clothing production is by hand. Our tailors are skilled but such is the quality demanded, every day each tailor will produce between 1- 2 finished garments. We are all about quality not quantity. Fair not fast fashion.
All our tailors are happy. They work for a very good wage in good conditions with good benefits. We think this makes are garments feel special as well as look special. You should feel proud to wear oh so shika, knowing that you have invested in a garment which helps women living in poverty earn a living wage. One which helps them pay for their children’s education, the home they live in and the food they eat. Why should these women work for anything less than a living wage?
Who makes oh so Shika clothing?
We want you to connect to the women who make your clothing. That’s why when you buy an oh so Shika garment, our swing tag will tell you who made it.
We currently have four seamtresses making our clothing in Arusha.
Let’s meet the ladies:
Mama Sonia – The linchpin is Mama Sonia. Mama Sonia is a skilled tailor who has been making clothing for the local community for years. She is clever, hard working, eager to learn and highly regarded among her community. She is the perfect person to run the workshop in Tanzania.
Is oh so Shika different to Shika?
Yes, Shika is a UK registered charity that practices social enterprise providing quality education opportunities to orphaned and young people in Tanzania. While also registered as a charity, oh so Shika is a self sustainable social enterprise which runs as a business. We work with disadvantaged women to provide them training, equipment and jobs producing oh so Shika clothing. We use a business model to run oh so Shika to ensure that we can be profitable and generate fair trade income and jobs for all concerned.
Sustainability | Passion | Awareness | Innovation