Sima and her sewing class

Bringing Businesses to Life: Sima, freelance Sewing Tutor

Sima moved to the UK in 2021. A talented tailor, Sima left behind her business teaching tailoring to women in her home country.

Since arriving in the UK, we’ve been supporting Sima in her endeavor to set up as a freelance Sewing Tutor and forge a career built around her passion for sewing and teaching other women.

Keep reading to find out more about Sima’s story…

It looks like a full-time job! And I have very good life in Bristol now, and Shalini especially and ACH they helped me a lot with how to start my course and how to run that and thank you! - Sima

How Sima started her sewing journey…

Sima’s love of sewing was first sparked by her father when she was a child. Her father was eager for Sima to learn a skill and encouraged her to follow her passions, despite restrictions on women’s education enforced in her home country.

‘My father, he always want me to learn something, especially sewing, and then I started a sewing course. 

After one week when I came to my house, normally my father came to the house at lunchtime from his factory. He started [his business] newly and he was struggling with that business and I didn't have money to buy sewing machine, but he surprised me.

He brought me that day, a sewing machine!’ - Sima

How did Sima ignite her business idea?

Sima’s entrepreneurship journey started when she and her family were forced to flee their home country due to conflict in the 2000s.

‘We went to [host country] as a refugee. And in [host country] I was trying to do some little bit of sewing. And then, the situation was very difficult and because all of my brother, they had stopped working. There was no jobs and we were new there. I started sewing for our neighbours, they were bringing some dresses and my sister-in-law, she was helping me with that and little bit I started sewing for them.’ - Sima

Sima has a supportive husband, who encouraged her to pursue sewing and tailoring as a career. In 2009, Sima joined her husband in the UK, and started advancing her skills in alteration and repairing garments, learning from other women in London. This led to Sima starting her first business in 2011, renting a place and training other women to work alongside her.

In 2017, Sima and her family moved back to their home country, where Sima started a training institute for women.

‘I started a small institute, a learning institute just for women and girls.

And if someone had an old sewing machine, if they didn't need it, then I took it and fixed it and kept it for my students. I had some students, they could pay me some fees, but some students, they were really poor, they couldn't pay me anything. I took the money from the people who could pay me and I used it for the poor girls or ladies who couldn’t afford to buy, notebooks or things for their course.’ - Sima

Bringing Sima’s business to life…

Sima had to leave her home country again in 2021. She moved to Bristol, a city she knew little about.

‘Bristol was a new city for me, I didn't know how to do, what to do and how to start and from where to start.’

One day, Sima saw an advert for an ACH Careers and Enterprise event for people with refugee status in the city, and persuaded a group of other women to join her. At the event, Sima spoke to ACH Business Consultant Shalini and ACH’s CEO Fuad Mahamed, and told them all about her sewing experience.

‘Fuad came to us and said, ‘You didn't speak. What kind of job were you were doing in in your home country?’

Shalini, she also came and then I started talking with Shalini, and I told her that I’m a Sewing Tutor back in my country and I have experience of more than 20 years and I can teach the ladies.

And they said, ‘Wow, we need a Sewing Tutor as well.’ And then we had a meeting with the ACH Manager called Sheena and ACH and they helped me start my first eight week course for ladies, for refugee ladies.’ - Sima

From this encounter, Sima’s first Sewing Course for ACH was created. Aid Box Community partnered with us to donate sewing machines to women taking the course, so they could continue learning and developing skills once the course had finished. Her pilot course was held at Docklands Community Centre, where students could learn the skills needed to run an at-home tailoring business.

Sima’s second course was run with ACH and Refugee Women of Bristol, and expanded the service, to teach more women from a refugee background.

Now, Sima is also working for Bridges for Communities as a Sewing Coordinator and is working with ACH, Eastside Community Trust and Bridges for Communities to develop regular sewing courses for refugee women in Bristol. Sima is now able to work full time hours as a freelance Sewing Tutor, building her business whilst following her passion for sewing and women’s education and enterprise.

‘It looks like a full-time job! And I have very good life in Bristol now, and Shalini especially and ACH they helped me a lot with how to start my course and how to run that and thank you!’ - Sima


Thinking about setting up your own business?

ACH offers free personalised support with the launch or growth of your business. Contact us to find out more or visit our webpage.

MBS Logo


Related content

Business Spotlight: Friendship to Entrepreneurship, Meet Elita and Tiffany

Elita's Artful Journey

Elita has always been a creative and artistic individual from her childhood. Just a few months ago, she founded Eli Art Shop with the aim of showcasing and marketing her own products.

Business Spotlight: Meet Sevilay, Illustrator and Graphic Designer

Can you tell us about yourself and your business?

I'm Sevilay; I moved to the UK from Turkey about two years ago; I live and work in Bristol.

Bringing business ideas to life | Nessi Cuisine, Egyptian street food

About Nesrin and her business idea

Nesrin joined ACH’s business support in November 2021 working with one of our Business Consultants in Bristol with the hope of bringing her business idea to life.