JOSEPH Mary Ssali only went into tailoring because he was obedient to his parents.
He was not happy with the tailoring course his mother had advised him to take.
How could the late Alice Nandugga tell her son to do a course where there was nothing to reap? All the tailors Ssali saw in Masaka were poor.
Why couldnâ€™t she instead send him for a carpentry and joinery course like she did for Ssaliâ€™s elder brother? Explanations that the woman had no money were fruitless, as far as the young boy was concerned.
He had dropped out of school while in S.3 because his mother could no longer afford his fees. When Ssaliâ€™s brother also dropped out of the technical school, Ssali then concentrated on his studies without sulking. Ssali also dropped out of Masaka Technical School due to lack of fees.
He then joined Charles Nsubuga, a tailor in Masaka with whom he learnt skills of making menâ€™s wear. He can make any kind of menâ€™s garments save for the kanzu
Later in 1996, he joined a Senegalese woman, Fiona, in Lyantonde where he learnt how to go about womenâ€™s designs. In 1997, Ssali found his way to Kiyembe in Kampala and this became his base for the next three to four years. While there, he linked up with a Danish woman, Anna Bakman, who was to shape him into a modern designer.
Bakman had a workshop in Kololo. â€œI worked with her for two years until she left in March, this year,â€ says Ssali.
â€œI got more ideas about designing â€“â€“ cutting patterns. I also gained experience in developing my own designs,â€ says the 27-year-old father of two..
When Bakman left, Ssali had diplomatic clients at his disposal. Unfortuna-tely, he could not afford a workshop where he could offer diplomatic treatment. However, Karen Rea, of the International Womenâ€™s Organisation, gave him an idea of working in shifts, working at clients homes.
Ssali, Rea and her friends coined a name for his business â€“â€“ Joseph Ssali mobile domestic tailoring business. Susanne Willerup, a friend became Ssaliâ€™s business guide and today, he is so grateful.
Ssali has learnt to market his work. He gives business cards and posters to his clients to get him more customers.
Masakaâ€™s Mobile Tailor