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CityPress - - Careers - THARIEN HATTINGH projects@city­press.co.za What is Doreen’s Al­ter­ations? Where does your love of sewing come from? How has Doreen’s Al­ter­ations grown over the years? You are pas­sion­ate about job cre­ation. Where does this pas­sion come from? What are your

f you have lived in Stel­len­bosch, chances are you’ve heard of Doreen Wil­liams. Many a stu­dent has taken clothes to her for al­ter­ing. A master of a nee­dle and a sewing ma­chine, Wil­liams is a whiz when it comes to mak­ing gar­ments fit, and her rep­u­ta­tion ex­tends be­yond South Africa’s borders. Build­ing a suc­cess­ful busi­ness wasn’t easy, but Wil­liams says she has learnt a lot.

It’s my shop in Stel­len­bosch, where I do gen­eral sewing and al­ter­ations to cloth­ing.

My un­cle was a tai­lor and he took me un­der his wing when I was very young and taught me the art of sewing.

He also taught me how to take great care of my eyes and hands. Through hard work, with those parts of the body, you put food on the ta­ble for your fam­ily. And that’s how it went for me.

I worked for many years un­der the man­age­ment of other tailors. It was al­ways clear to me that I had a great pas­sion for the work and was good at it. Cus­tomers liked me be­cause I lis­tened to their needs and helped them un­til they were sat­is­fied. In 2000, I opened my small shop. It was very hard work and I had to stay fo­cused ev­ery month to cover all my ex­penses and pay my­self a salary.

My busi­ness grew quickly and soon I could em­ploy some­one. I rented a larger place, where I am to­day. There hasn’t been a sin­gle day when Doreen’s Al­ter­ations has been with­out work. I am very grate­ful for that.

It has al­ways been the main goal of my busi­ness to cre­ate jobs and to put food on the ta­ble for oth­ers. I am pas­sion­ate about my com­mu­nity. What bet­ter way to con­trib­ute to the com­mu­nity than with job cre­ation?

It is dif­fi­cult for me to find em­ploy­ees to do the work with as much pas­sion and ethics as I have. If my em­ploy­ees are not fo­cused and make mis­takes, my name is dragged through the mud. I have of­ten had to redo work and, in the end, suf­fered a loss be­cause of poor work ethic.

I grew up poor and learnt in my child­hood to turn over ev­ery penny 10 times.

My mother taught me not to buy for the fun of it. You must only buy if you can­not man­age with­out some­thing.

I be­lieve in liv­ing spar­ingly and only buy­ing with cash. I do not want to get into debt at the bank. I used taxis un­til I could buy my­self a car with cash. All the ma­chines and the fur­ni­ture in my shop were bought with hard cash, through hard work.

Work hard. I still work hard and my busi­ness is 14 years old. I’ve slept in the shop many nights; that’s how hard I work.

But you have to stay pos­i­tive. There is no quick way to riches. It is also im­por­tant to be hum­ble and to start small. I started very small and never dreamt I would be where I am to­day.

I want to ex­pand. My door is open for work.

Who can af­ford to re­tire these days? I will keep on work­ing un­til I can’t carry on. Be­sides, I en­joy the profit from my busi­ness and spoil­ing my­self. I regularly run the Com­rades Marathon and have been over­seas a few times – all paid for with hard cash.

My ser­vice to the com­mu­nity and to see a sat­is­fied cus­tomer. That makes me very happy. Stu­dents’ par­ents have phoned me from as far as Namibia and Switzer­land to say thank you, or to give me more work. That is a huge com­pli­ment. And then, of course, I work for my own money. What I put in, I get out.

Dis­sat­is­fied cus­tomers. It makes me sick to my stom­ach.

PHOTO: THARIEN HATTINGH

WOMAN OF THE CLOTH

Doreen Wil­liams, the owner of Doreen’s Al­ter­ations

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