2018 SVP Startup Profile: Hope Sews
Maya Mutalik ‘21
Tell me a little bit about your company Hope Sews?
Hope Sews is social venture in the fashion industry. We sell modern clothing made of authentic Ghanaian fabric and prints, as well as donate electric sewing machines to seamstresses in local areas of Ghana.
What is the story behind Hope Sews?
I got the idea for Hope Sews about a year ago when I went to Ghana on a service trip. While there, I got the chance to meet a lovely seamstress named Vida in Anloga, Ghana. The clothing she made was absolutely beautiful and so I stopped to talk to her more in depth about her business. She mentioned how she didn’t have an electric sewing machine, so all of her clothes were hand sewn. Vida said that even having one machine would allow her to grow and scale her business exponentially. I looked into this issue and found out that many seamstresses in Ghana have this exact same problem—where they can create amazing clothing but are so under resourced. Vida made me a dress to take home that day. Once wearing it, I got an overwhelming amount of compliments and questions about where it was from and where they could purchase the same thing. That is when I decided to create Hope Sews.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve gained from the Summer Venture Program thus far?
Connections are so important. Almost every major step of progress I have made has been due to utilizing a connection. The Summer Venture Program (SVP) has a phenomenal network and it has been critical to the development of my business. You really never know who will help you and who you can assist in return.
What’s been a milestone/accomplishment you’ve made since the Summer Venture Program started?
Recently, I restructured my business model and laid out a plan for the upcoming months including developing a seamstress training program in Ghana. I was facing this issue of quality control with my clothing, so I decided to create a training program that would teach newer seamstresses how to sew as well as provide them with resources along the way.
What’s been an obstacle/surprise you’ve faced?
The hardest thing has been trying to find a balance between managing the social mission of Hope Sews and as a fashion brand. I have so many different types of tasks I must accomplish in order to maintain both aspects of the company. Sometimes these day-to-day tasks can be difficult to juggle. By talking to my advisors and peers, however, I am figuring out a way to do both.
What is your favorite memory or moment from the Summer Venture Program?
Every day, Mara Steiu, Georgia Gabriela, Larissa Moreira (ignitED), and I have been driving into the city together. During the first few weeks of the program, we really didn’t know where we were going. We would always get lost and end up at a different parking garage each day. Although hectic, it is a ton of fun driving with them into Boston. Also Shaymaa Gaafar (Shay Jaffar) always shares her food with me. I love it and look forward to it. She always says “Oh, I have food for you Maya.”
If you could run any company in the world, existing or not, what would it be and why?
I love social ventures. Besides fashion, another passion of mine is education. At some point in my life I plan to create a social venture focused on making education accessible in developing countries.
What is your go-to restaurant around Workbar?
I’ve gone to so many good places around Workbar, but my go-to place would have to be the sandwich spot in the corner. Al’s is so good, pretty much anyone in SVP could attest to that. I also love getting boba in Chinatown; a bunch of us will walk to get some together.
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs that you want to share?
Just keep going. This is a cliché but there will always be good and bad days in business. Personally, I have had many moments where I thought “I don’t know what I’m doing? Is it all worth it?” Having a startup is a lot of time and effort. You won’t always know what the next step is, but if you keep going and surround yourself with other entrepreneurs you will succeed.