Cecilia doing her own designs

“Finger-pointing On Swelling Unemployment Levels Won’t Give You A Job; Create One!”

  • A discourse into Cecilia Bamusi’s CIAR fashion designs 

By Thecla Thando

Going through my social media pages, starting with WhatsApp, Twitter and Facebook and I see posts of how angry most Malawian youths are because of the shocking unemployment levels in the country and the tragic death of some people as a result of all this recently.

The big question is as youths, what are we doing to change the status quo? Are we just going to continue making noise on social media and see change come on its own? Anyway, that is story for another day.

However, I’m glad that amidst of all this there are still some young people out there that are making their ends meet by employing themselves using the talents given to them by the creator.

Sure, we can’t all be entrepreneurs but maybe we can learn a few things from a 22-year-old Cecilia Bamusi, a 22 year old starlet and the engine behind CIAR designs – one of the blossoming fashion designing lines down town Blantyre.

Her handworks are a testimony of the prowess that is in Cecilia’s hands.

Listening to her narration, it is clear the youngster had dreams and now she is on the path to fully living her childhood passion.

A holder of a Certificate in Financial Accounting, Cecilia’s story is a journey of a youngster who defied her mother’s career expectations in pursuit of her ideas.

Early days

Professionally, Cecilia ventured into this industry at the age of 16.

That’s when I truly realized this (tailoring and fashion designing) could be my lifetime career.” She recalls. 

Having ran up and down, 2016 got Cecilia into the world of self-employment as she purchased a hand sewing machine.

I started with a little hand sewing and posted the little things that I’d made online and that helped me get a new job outlet in Lilongwe and so I moved from being a front office person to being a designer because of the little things that I was making,” she said.

Despite the resistance she got from her parents, her passion for fashion and designing outweighed everything else and pushed her to move on and be where she is today.

“I remember when I told my mom I wanted to start designing she said no, claiming she couldn’t bear seeing any of her children becoming a tailor. Apparently, to her, tailoring was for low class citizens. I was to prove her wrong later on,” she narrated.’’

The first step

In 2018, Cecelia bought her first sewing machine after she’d moved from Lilongwe to Blantyre. She started working from home, had customers visiting her at home but because she was making a lot of litter at home because of her work, she was supposed to find a shop and move. Moving she did. That’s how she got her first shop.

In June 2018, I found a shop and I moved with one machine and it was just me by that time working by myself.” she said.

There’s power in Self-belief

Fashion designing and tailoring has been one of the trending businesses in the country so far with a couple of technical colleges offering designing and tailoring courses. Though the market is flooded, Cecilia had confidence in her craft.

“I believe we’re all different. Yes, there are a lot of designers out there but we are all different and I believe that it’s not a competition. We’re here and we all have our clients and elements that makes us unique and different from each other,” Cecilia narrated.

Cecilia says she also likes working with young women of her age so that they should be inspired by her. She said this because just 2 years down the line Cecelia has 4 employees and an intern and two of those are women of her age.

“I’m a fan of working with ladies of my age group. That’s why I decided putting the young women at my shop on my pay scheme so that they should continue being inspired as we work together as a team,” she said.

So, from a small shop with one sewing machine, Cecilia now has a big shop with a total of 5 employees and these are her fellow youths.

The dreams

Cecilia is the definition of a young girl with big dreams…And she has colorful dreams!

It really hurts when I see people going to other countries to get clothes and sell them here when we can make those things here in Malawi and people can order from here. We can export. I want CIAR designs to be a label, to be a brand.” Explains she.

A word or two

To all young ladies and gents out there wanting to venture into this business, Cecilia said asking other people for help helps.

I share my knowledge with other people and I’m willing to help. As women, it’s very important to empower each other in any business and get rid of the feeling that I help someone that means that person is going to be my competitor, no!” She highlights.

The thorny side of self-employment

“It’s not that easy,” says Cecilia. The youngster advices that entrepreneurial activities are not for the faint-hearted.

 “Most people start but most people give up. Most people do not expect losses and that’s where the challenge is. You should expect anything from a business and have solutions lined up in case of eventualities,” she explains.

The secret to success

The formula to any successful entrepreneurial endeavor is having passion towards whatever you are doing, so says Cecilia. It is that passion, in her world, that makes an entrepreneur.

There is always a possibility that something might fail when starting a business, and the fear of failing should not stop you from starting. Make your business your number one passion, and that shall keep you moving,” she advises.



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