Sewing facemasks for a living – a look at Ellen’s journey
When Ellen Ebora stitched the first pair of facemasks for a friend who requested for the fashionable protective gear as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) emerged in Qatar, she hadn’t imagined how far her talent would take her.
The 40-year-old Filipino expat simply stitched it out of compassion and gifted the pair to her friend.
But, the masks gained popularity beyond her imagination. From family to friends, acquaintances and even random strangers noticed the masks’ uniqueness in beauty and style.
“One day I was in Lulu hypermarket and a lady approached me and asked me about the mask I had on,” Ellen recalls. This lady became a client and recommended Ellen’s masks to many others.
Soon, Ellen found herself filling orders for customers working at some well-known organizations in the country, including Qatar Foundation and Hamad Medical Corporation.
A mother of two teenagers, Ellen was working as a full-time employee in an established holding company in Qatar since long.
But with the pandemic tightening its grip on the world and businesses feeling its negative impact, Ellen eventually found herself unemployed at home.
In times of uncertainty and adversity, Ellen found hope with her passion for sewing.
“Before this, I used to only sew as a hobby,” Ellen said. “I would stitch for personal use – things like curtains, dresses, bedsheets, and use my skills to repair my husband’s uniform,” she said.
But when she realized her work was being appreciated she decided to give it her all to support her family.
“I keep on sewing as long as my body permits me to,” Ellen says.
Sometimes she would handle orders of 100 pieces all by herself.
Time management is key to make sure everything is done within the promised time to the customer.
“I manage my time for just cutting and time for just sewing continuously. Then time for doing the elastics as I sow them by hand to make them finer. When you do it by machine, sometimes, it may be misaligned,” she mentions.
Ellen’s hard work and persistence shines through each piece she works on. There is a wide range of designs she has created so far, which she says she customizes as per clients' liking and preferences.
“I am not a professional,” Ellen admits modestly. “I learned sewing in elementary school.”
However, while it is a business venture now, sewing holds emotional value for Ellen.
“I always saw my mother sew a lot when she was still alive,” Ellen mentioned. “We have this old manual sewing machine that she would use.”
“Maybe I got it from my mom,” she says.
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