OUR FEATURED ARTISANS
As a young girl, Khadija began learning how to sew from her mother at the age of six. Khadija says, “When I started sewing for the first time, I tried making different colorful clothes for my dolls because I loved playing with them.”
Khadija’s mother was a renowned tailor in her village. Khadija recalls “She had lots of customers. Even during holidays, customers would come visit our home.” Inspired by her mother’s artistry, Khadija practiced every day and gradually learned to sew dresses, crafts and pillow covers with colorful fabrics and threads. She began assisting her mother and finally became a famous artisan in her own right, sewing professionally on her own.
Now, although Khadija has a busy life in the U.S., she still pursues her sewing. Her signature is using colorful threads; she often combines different colors, which enhances the artistry and beauty of the product. You can see this in many of her pillow covers, tablecloths and dresses.
Najib & Halima
Najibullah and Halima live together as husband and wife with their five children in Maryland. Together, they make a dynamic duo with Halima having the artistic vision that Najib is able to bring to life with his tailor skills.
Before coming to the United States, Najib and Halima lived in Turkey for 10 years where they both picked up new skills from learning a new language to explore their artistic side. Najib recalls, “In the beginning I was a student with no sewing skills at all, but my father was always saying that I have artisan talents. His encouragement motivated me a lot and was the key success of my sewing skills. I have been fond of sewing clothes such as men’s suits and ties, since childhood.”
He retells his first interest in sewing as a child, “I was six when my parents bought me a suit that I liked a lot. Once, my brother (who is my age) took my suit to wear. When I saw that I started fighting with him because I didn’t want to share my suit with anyone! Now whenever I remember that I smile about how much I liked suits even when I was a child. My interest in my childhood suit grew my interest in being a good tailor and led me to becoming a professional.”
In Turkey, Halima worked as a translator and photographer. Halima remembered “I was getting calls from a company in Turkey whenever they needed a lady photographer. In ladies’ ceremonies there was a vital need of lady photographers, so for that reason I was getting more chances of work.”
She was particularly inspired by the beauty of Turkey. “When I was visiting historical places, different provinces or any beautiful scene which was attracting me, I had my camera with me, and I was taking shots of those beautiful views and sceneries.”
After immigrating to the United States, Halima began assisting her husband with sewing, bringing her photographer’s eye for composition to the pieces she creates. Now Najibullah has lots of customers in the United States for his suits and dresses, in addition to his very popular aprons and bags.
When Suhaila was a young girl, her family discouraged her sewing. “My mother did not allow me to sew, because my family wanted me to complete my high school first.” Suhaila recalled, “But due to my interest I was allowed to make some dresses for my little dolls.”
After graduation Suhaila started a formal sewing course when she was 17. “My teacher’s name was Ferishta,” she recalled. “She was amazing, kind, and calm.” Suhaila learned the basics by using papers to study professional cutting and sewing. “I was practicing on cards and papers at home every day, that’s how gradually my technique improved.” Suhaila’s skill grew over time and expanded the artistry, patterns, and items she could make.
After coming to the United States, Suhaila moved to Maryland with her husband and three daughters. Suhaila started work at a cosmetic company but needed to leave her job to take care of her children. She then turned to her natural talent as a seamstress and started her own business. Now Suhaila makes and sells beautiful tablecloths, pillow covers and curtains.
Mesri was motivated to become a professional seamstress after seeing her sisters’ sewing artistry. She said, “I was six years old watching my sisters sew different traditional ladies’ dresses and cover pillows for
our neighbors and relatives. My sisters were making those dresses with colorful threads and fabrics which attracted me, even during my childhood. I was so inspired by their artistry that I didn’t want to focus on my school studies.”
Mesri’s sisters were professional tailors in their community. As their reputation grew, their artwork inspired not only their family and friends, but many people around their community and other businesses in their city.
After coming to the United States, Mesri graduated from school and now is pursuing higher education. She reports, “Not only do I pursue my education and sewing artistry, but I also take care of my three daughters, their education and all other housework responsibilities.”
Mesri’s customers appreciate her sewing style in her pillow covers, hand crafts and dresses.