Enkeshi El-Amin, a sociologist who is also a professional seamstress, has launched a free sewing camp to teach kids not only how to sew but also how to run their own businesses. With the support of her local community in Knoxville, Tennessee, she was able to pull off the Sew It, Sell It program and is already producing young entrepreneurs.
Enkeshi was preparing to be a professor when she was featured in a news article about her side job as a designer and seamstress. During the interview, she casually mentioned her ideas of opening a summer camp for kids someday. After it was published, support from the community immediately came rushing into her surprise.
“The support from the community was overwhelming. It came from everywhere,” El-Amin told WBIR. “It was really an idea that was able to come to fruition through support from the community.”
People from the community donated sewing machines, furniture, and food. Marcus Hall, the owner of March Nelson Denim, provided the studio space. Because of the donations, the camp called Sew It, Sell It has been offered to kids for free since mid-July.
Enkeshi proudly said that in just two days, the kids learned to sew. Aside from sewing, a large part of the camp included learning how to run a business. The kids would have to create a product to sell during the camp’s market day.
“When I say I was impressed, I’m not just saying that. I was super impressed by how well they presented, how well they knew their products, how well they were able to talk about it. The judges were so impressed, they said, ‘we can’t just have three winners.’ So, they went out and got gift cards for everyone,” El-Amin said.
Tiara Hill, one of the participants, created Bonnets by T that “would protect braids” especially for African Americans. She said, “I got this idea because I wear braids, and African Americans spend a lot of money on hair care. It’s a big investment, so I created something to protect that investment. I have a waterproof one too.”
Tiara must have learned a lot from the camp as she already has a plan for her profits. She said, “I’m going to take most of the money and reinvest it back into the business, and I’m going to open a bank account.”
Ja’Shonna Bryant, another camper, started her business called Bow Wow Doggie Boutique selling her creations of “dog vest that’s comfortable for your dog. I made it out of cotton fabrics and silk fabrics, so it’s soft,” she said. She added that her clients can also purchase a vest for donation to Young Williams Animal Shelter.
Enkeshi was happy with how her ideas turn out. She plans on expanding the camp to an after-school program and a program for refugees.