January 20, 2022
“The “Sailor’s daughter” is my nickname. No one knows me as Suzan.” On a proud tone, Suzan Abdel-Gawad – 34 years old woman from Aswan – started talking about her businesss for handmade leather products.
Suzan began her career as a public servant in Aswan, a job she soon quit. “My family never approved of me working. They used to say, in Upper Egypt girls are not allowed to work, you stay at home and your wishes are our command”.
She then decided to work in a training and rehabilitation institution for people with special needs. There, Susan trained on recycling palm branches and agricultural waste and on producing environmentally friendly products. “There is no such thing as ‘I don’t know how’, you need to try first and then (if you fail) say ‘I don’t know”, Susan remembers the words of her coach, Muhammad Gad whose words became her career motto. “The first product I ever made was sold for 150 pounds. I felt proud that someone purchased it”.
Suzan decided to continue experimenting. She headed to Cairo and Alexandria to meet and deal with suppliers and traders, gaining confidence along the way. “I started learning design, received training and produced designs for other companies, I mastered the craft.”
After years of experimenting and studying came the decision to launch her own brand. “I contacted a designer, and we came up with “S-anchor” as a logo for my company, the anchor that helps the sailor dock his boat and move goods to his island”. October 2021 was the launch of her business after 3 years of preparation and experimentation. “I did not want to start weak, I wanted my work to speak of me,” Susan continues. And the outcome was worth the wait, as the market welcomed her distinctive high quality designs inspired by Aswan’s local environment. “We are producing handbags and wallets from natural leather and we are able to do embroideries on it, this is very difficult and it increases the product value.”
Suzan’s participation in the “Turathna” exhibition for traditional and handicraft products through the MASAAR Aswan Business Incubator for startups was an important step in her company’s journey. Her business expanded and she was able to sell her products on social media. But expanding was not Suzan’s only goal as, for her, quality remains the most important aim: “I want the customer to feel that he’s acquiring a high-quality product… a brand.”
Economically empowering women remains a primary goal for Suzan too. She takes part in capacity building trainings on several crafts through associations and official bodies. “I trained around 400 women in Aswan, Qena, Sohag and Fayoum. The most needed factor in training is that women learn to cooperate among themselves, help each other and increase the products’ quality”.
Suzan remembers her journey with a smile, “My father used to tell me that I will never accomplish anything and my brother always smiled at my efforts sarcastically. Now they are all proud of my success and happy that their daughter was able to establish her own company… and multiplied its capital by 4 in 3 years.”
Visit her page here: https://www.facebook.com/Sanchor.co
***If you liked this story, don’t forget to subscribe to our newsletter and receive our articles and stories by email