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50,000 dresses and counting

Authentic stories, about the lives of quintessential Maldivians across the Maldives, exclusively brought to readers by The Edition.

Fathmath Shaahunaz
11 June 2019, MVT 09:03
Haseena Yoonus, a renowned tailor in L.Gan who, throughout the span of 30 years, has tailored over 50,000 garments (by our calculations). PHOTO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA / THE EDITION
Fathmath Shaahunaz
11 June 2019, MVT 09:03

Seated on the ‘joalifathi’ inside the quaint compound of her house, Haseena Yoonus emits a quiet sense of pride as she gestures at her tailor shop - a small vibrant corner that stands out from the rest of her home, with splashes of bright colour in the form of school uniform badges and other garments that hang in the display window.

She is a renowned name not only throughout her home island of Gan, but across Laamu Atoll as well, celebrated for her exquisite sewing skills.

50,000 Dresses and Counting... VIDEO: HAWWA AMAANY ABDULLA / THE EDITION

For Haseena, the start of her career dated back to childhood.

“My father was also a tailor and I learnt from him”, she shares with a smile.

With the encouragement and support from her parents, Haseena’s love for the craft spurred her to apply for a sewing course in the capital city of Male’, after which she returned to Gan and would go on to carve a name for herself over the next 30 years. Opening a small shop in her own house, as her creations spread word of her skills, so grew the number of people flocking to her door with eager orders.

“And the more I took on projects, the more I improved and learned even new things”, she says.

It is a testament to Haseena’s prowess that, in addition to her work, she was also requested earlier on by some island associations to host special classes in Gan to pass on her expertise.

While Haseena’s versatile repertoire ranges from casual everyday clothes to stylish evening wear, of particular prominence is her tailoring of school uniforms - and the demand is not limited to the schools in Gan, either. Her clientele hail from across the atoll, and even beyond in some cases.

“People visit Gan from across Laamu and even Meemu Atoll, during the school break”, she says, referring to the 2-month year-end holidays, “and they leave in time for the new academic year. Many of them get uniforms tailored from me”.

With a modest smile lighting up her kindly face, Haseena adds, “A lot of people compliment me on the uniforms; maybe word gets around”, with regards to the popularity of her work. In response to such high demand, Haseena now sells all materials related to school uniforms, from cloth to the badges and ties of various schools in the region.

A proud mother of three daughters, Haseena has also passed down the craft to her children, two of whom took up sewing. However, their own careers and families do not leave much time for them to pursue tailoring as a business, she noted, though her daughters are always on hand to support their mother in her endeavours.

“My parents have passed on, but they helped me the most with this career. And my children and husband support me a lot in this work; I’m very grateful to them”.

Looking to the future, Haseena shares her dream of expanding her business by opening a textile store to accompany her proud tailoring establishment.

She gives a bashful laugh when asked if she could estimate how many garments she has tailored to date. “It’s hard to say … I sew around 100 - 150 in a month…”

With an accomplished career spanning more than 30 years, by our calculations, Haseena Yoonus has tailored over 50,000 beautiful pieces, all adorned with layers of skill and passion, and surely, many more masterpieces are yet to come!

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