Self-starter launches dream career in dressmaking

Some people may give up their plans to become a dressmaker as they cannot afford the fees for courses, but not Ms Anouson, who paid 30,000 kip for a dressmaking book and learnt everything by herself.
Making a beautiful dress may seem like a difficult proposition to most people, who usually buy or hire a dress from shops for special occasions. But Ms Anouson, better known to her family and friends as Aon, has never faced such difficulties.
Aon, 33, was born and brought up in Thongpong village, Sikhottabong district, Vientiane. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree from the Faculty of Letters under the Department of Foreign Languages at the National University of Laos, majoring in English in 2010.

Aon takes a customer’s measurements before making a silk blouse for her.

But her job today bears no relation to her university studies. She has become a well-known dressmaker and her skills in making clothes for women are appreciated by many people.
Her customers may think she learnt her skills from a professional dressmaker or that she took classes at a famous design school but they would be surprised to find out that she taught herself to make clothes.
“I started learning how to sew clothes when I was in my first year at university. At first, I just wanted to help my parents by earning money for my educational fees,” said Ms Aon.
Her employer at the time made silk outfits for shops in Vientiane, and she cut the silk into suitable pieces and sewed them.
“Actually, she was my teacher because she taught me how to sew,” she said.
“I sewed clothes every morning and went to classes in the afternoon. After returning home, I sewed clothes again after dinner. After sewing clothes every day, I found that I really loved this work.”
She continued with this routine until she was in Year Four, when she stopped making clothes because she wanted to focus on her studies.
Ms Aon then bought a dressmaking book for 30,000 kip and tried to learn more whenever she had free time after her studies. She knew the basic techniques of sewing but hadn’t mastered the art of cutting fabric for different body sizes.
She learnt this from the book but it wasn’t easy and she tried very hard to understand the different techniques involved.
Ms Aon then decided to buy a small sewing machine with her savings so that she could try to make her first dress after months of studying the lessons in the book.
“The first dress could be worn but it was not as beautiful as I had hoped. But I didn’t give up developing my skills,” she said.
“After learning from my many mistakes, I felt confident with my experience. I told a woman who owned a silk shop in a Vientiane market that I could make silk dresses for her but she wasn’t sure if I could do it. She let me make an outfit for one of her customers,” Aon said.
When she delivered the dress, the shop owner liked it a lot and gave her lots of silk to make more dresses.
Aon sometimes had to refuse orders as she did not have enough time to complete them all. She enjoyed making clothes but stopped when she graduated from the National University of Laos.
“I wanted to improve my English after studying for five years at university,” she said, adding that she got a job as an English teacher and then joined a firm’s marketing staff.
But she realised that deep down these jobs did not appeal to her.
“After about three years, I wasn’t working because I didn’t enjoy these jobs and I came back home to continue working as a dressmaker,” she said.
In 2013, she opened her own dressmaking shop at her home in Thongpong village, Sikhottabong district, and hired an assistant to sew clothes. “I could look after my two little daughters at home and work at the same time. I really enjoyed my work,” she said.
The prices of her dresses range from 100,000 kip to 250,000 kip, depending on the style and pattern, while the prices of her traditional skirts (sinh) range from 30,000 kip to 50,000 kip.
Ms Aon doesn’t sell fabrics and customers have to supply their own.
Currently, she makes a living not only from dress making but also from teaching others how to make clothes.
She teaches up to four people a month until they can do it themselves.
Her shop is open daily from 7am to 7pm and she can also be contacted on Facebook account AnousonePhoukham.
“Lots of my friends are working for the government, and some are with NGOs or big companies, but they admire my business even though it is just a small shop,” said Ms Aon.
“And I earn enough money to support my family members really well,” she added.

By Times Reporters
(Latest Update June 15, 2018)

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