Many students have jobs and small businesses they run outside of their coursework, but one student is redefining what running a small business means to her.
Hendrika Masire originally came to the U.S. from Kenya for her studies, but found herself becoming more and more interested in fashion, eventually starting her own sewing business.
“In Kenya I modeled and made clothes for several local celebrities and was also featured in a couple local TV shows,” Masire said. “I am just taking that experience and trying to make a name for myself here in the U.S.”
Masire is a nursing student at Central New Mexico Community College, but also has an interest in fashion design.
“I have always loved fashion and been sewing pieces here and there since I could hold a needle,” Masire said.
When Masire moved to the U.S. she first settled down in Philadelphia, a place where she grew her first U.S. clientele. She then moved to Albuquerque, putting up flyers to advertise her growing business.
Masire said she first began making clothes during a difficult time in her life. Sewing clothes by hand became her release, something that she said could distract her.
“Creating things made me feel like I had a purpose in life,” Masire said. “At first I would hand sew everything until like five in the morning because I couldn't sleep and because I couldn't afford a sewing machine at the time.”
To save up enough money to buy her first sewing machine, Masire said she started delivering food to make the cash she needed to pursue her craft.
“In about three days I had made exactly $57.37 and had $20 in savings, which I put together to buy the machine that was $70,” Masire said.
Since then Masire has created many different looks, both from scratch and some being redesigned from old garments that her clients bring her, something she said helps keeps her clients within their budgets.
“I actually really like redesigning (making new clothes from old clothes) because most of the seams are already done, which means less work and the possibilities are endless so I can get creative,” Masire said. “I just love creating.”
When getting in her creative space, Masire said she always plays music while she sews. She said she listens to a lot of rap and R&B, with some of her favorites being Dave East, Kur, H.E.R, Sinead Harnett, Drake, Lil Baby, Lil Durk and Brent Faiyaz.
“I also will sometimes play motivational documentaries,” Masire said. ”My fave is Beyonce's ‘Life Is But a Dream,’ and I also (listen to) a lot of P Diddy's interviews if I need a pick me up.”
Masire’s creative process starts from first envisioning a design, that she then sketches, and brings to life by cutting raw fabric, or fabric that her clients bring in. Other times Masire said she just randomly starts cutting fabric to see where it takes her.
Masire is also a stylist, working with clients on wardrobe makeovers, personal shopping and styling photoshoots, where she gets to lend her hand in the creative direction.
Some of Masire’s designs have been hand sewn, something that she said can cause painful blisters from the friction, but she maintains her love for her craft by expressing her motto, “Anything for the dress.”
Masire plans on opening an online shop where she said her pieces will be up for purchase, with each being completely unique and limited. Her blog is fetu2.wordpress.com, a place where Masire said she can put up all of her creative work including her writing, clothing she has designed, and photoshoots that she has styled and directed.
“Only do fashion if you love it and just cannot imagine your life without it because it can get very tough,” Masire said. “Your love for your craft will keep you going.”
Shayla Cunico is the culture editor and music editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ShaylaCunico.