Espersana Sewing Group at Albion Arcade

By James Arbuthnott

THE Albion arcade will have a new retailer from today — but just for a week, as Liza Curtis, Vicki Woodhouse and Chantelle Webb set up the Espersana pop-up shop.

They will be selling handcrafted sewing products made by women in Aileu, East Timor, with all profits going to the Espersana collective.

Bags, purses, cushion covers, soft toys and more will be available, providing thoughtful Christmas gifts for family and loved ones this festive season.

It all started five years ago when Liza travelled to Aileu with Vicki and Chantelle Bell as part of St Augustine College’s adult immersion visit.

They took some sewing machines to teach local women to enhance their skills and it has now turned into a self-sustaining business.

“We taught the ladies more about their machines and built on their skills and at the end of the trip they were asked what they would like out of their sewing,” Liza said.

“They replied that they would like to form an official group and get some ‘intensive training’.”

And in just five years, Espersana has come a long way.

“The Esperansa ladies now run their own books, pay wages and manage the business themselves,” Liza said.

“This is a huge accomplishment, as five years ago they had no idea what a balance sheet was nor had they ever heard of wages and we do not speak the same language.”

From today until Saturday Liza and the gang will be selling Espersana products to help source new materials and provide income for the Espersana ladies.

For more information call Liza Curtis on 0429 189 141 or Vicki Woodhouse on 0409 945 371.