Case Studies

The Sewing Cafe

The Sewing Cafe, founded by Francia Boakye, exists to eradicate loneliness by bringing people together through the love of sewing. For the betterment of every individual no matter their background.

We caught up with What If… North Edinburgh participant Francia, to chat about her sewing cafe social enterprise, and her lockdown project: re-usable face coverings! You can read more about these facecoverings and how to buy them on our news page.

What was your inspiration for setting up a social enterprise?

There is an African proverb which says, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.’ I believe this statement to be true. When individuals come together with a solid goal in mind, achieving greatness is inevitable. It all started with an idea to help others in my community who were trying to make some sense of their life (I’ve been there before). See, it is not always easy to find something that you are passionate about. It is not as easy as some make it sound. I realised that a lot of people had great ideas but lack the ability to connect, or the confidence to implement it.

When I see people, I see potential. I strongly believe that every person has a talent that the world is dying to see! I love sewing, I love crafting, I love to design. It took me a while to get here, but I know that I didn’t get here alone. All I am simply trying to do is to help others get to their place of fulfilment faster than I did. For this reason, I decided to create this opportunity to teach what I know. With the hope that I might just provoke a hidden talent that is lying dormant in one of these individuals.

What was the most challenging part of setting your idea up?

Nothing comes easy. Plans always looks good on paper until you have to implement it. The initial stage was a little strange. I live in Muirhouse, where this project was birthed. Following a well embraced research, it was evident that this was something the community needed. This was going to be a place where individuals could learn how to sew, upcycle their old clothing, and also a place that offered alterations and repairs services at a discounted rate. I went ahead and drafted the module for The Sewing Café- beginners and advance classes (which wasn’t the most enjoyable thing to do). At this point the budget was ready, machines purchased and premises sorted. Now, we were opened for business!

The only problem was that the people were nowhere to be found. What just happened? I did not have a clue. To be honest, it was a little disheartening, but then things begun to pick up following further advertisement and social involvement. It’s about dedication and determination.

What are your plans for the future?

I am also a qualified kiltmaker and will therefore hope to introduce kiltmaking in the foreseeable future here at The Sewing Café. Traditional Kiltmaking is very technical but the end product is worth the work. As this is an essential part of the Scottish heritage, what better place to continue this tradition than right here. It sure will be an exciting time here at The Sewing Café! I will also like for The Sewing Café to have its own premises where we can permanently operate from without any restrictions on time, day and space.

I would also like to collaborate with other businesses in other to diversify my clientele and offer more services. It’s all about seeking out talent and harnessing it, I’m only teaching what I know, so an expansion will be great! Teaching online classes has most recently been my ‘new normal’, and so I would like to further explore this prospect post-quarantine.

Any tips for other social entrepreneurs?

See every setback as a comeback to a better position. Try and stay positive even in the face of challenges. And when you ever feel like giving up, remember why you started.

Check out Francia’s latest customizable face-covering project on our news page, and visit her instagram to place an order!