Fatoumatta Sisay, 24, a Gambian designer, founded a tailoring and fashion shop YOUR BOUTIQUE. The brand name for Fatoumatta’s boutique came into existence nine months ago.
“When I first initiated the business, naming it was a bit challenging but my father was able to come up with the name ‘your boutique’ meaning it belongs to everyone and it is the right place for all fashionable materials.”
Starting one’s own business as an entrepreneur can be one of the most rewarding experiences that life offers.
Though it has challenges too, Fatoumatta was able to conquer all odds and used her fondness for fashion as an inspiration to ideally and creatively set up her boutique. On that path, she is making her dream of becoming a designer a reality.
In senior school, Fatoumatta was awesomely sketching design materials and through that her niche was revealed. “I was having a sketch book and during my free time in school, I’d be sketching anything that comes to my mind and that was amazing. Though I wasn’t very serious with it because I was only doing it for fun, but when my colleague saw it, she was amazed and told me how important it is and how I could set up a creative fashion boutique.”
‘YOUR BOUTIQUE’ is located in The heart of the country’s biggest chilling area, Senegambia, where Gambians and tourists get attracted to locally made clothes and other materials. The boutique is divided into three segments, tailoring, saloon and bags. The luxurious segment is tailoring, this is where more creativity is done.
As a youth born and raised in The Gambia from a family of seven, and being the only daughter, Fatoumatta understands the struggles her fellow youths in The Gambia encounter more especially in securing a job. With that in mind, she employed more than five staff and plans to increase the number to immensely reduce the dependency rate in the country. It is also part of her plans to create sub branches of ‘YOUR BOUTIQUE’ in all corners of the country, making fashion accessible and affordable to all.
Her love for fashion and creativity, and selflessness made her an icon in the eyes of many youths and in the entrepreneurship businesses even though it is a start-up. Fatoumatta Sisay also mentors young people who are enthusiastic about being fashion designers and want to make it a career. “I do not want them to go through the struggle of trying to find out what they can do. So I decided to be a mentor and guide them through the process of becoming better designers and entrepreneurs.”
In The Gambia, like any other country in Africa and beyond, entrepreneurial activities tend to significantly contribute to the country’s development. It enhances and raises the country’s economic growth level, but since COVID-19 pandemic begins, it has been a major challenge in every sector of life lately, and as the cases of the virus surged, more stringent measures were put forward by the authorities to limit the spread of the deadly virus. This has affected many entrepreneurs and Fatoumatta is not an exception.
She said business got delayed, customers did not show up as expected, but as Subroto Bagchi, co-founder of Mindtree who is a world leading entrepreneur rightly said, “Selling is not a pushy, winner-takes-all, macho act. It is an empathy-led, process-driven, and knowledge-intensive discipline. Because, in the end, people buy from people.”
The good side is, Fatoumatta never relents as it is her fascination that always enables her to envision lovely ideas and create more.
The country wholeheartedly creates a conducive environment for entrepreneurs. More than two thirds of the population are self-employed and conscious of the fact that working in an office is not the only way to make ends meet. Others have left their comfort zones to struggle and become their own bosses through entrepreneurship.
As December approaches and the country expects more tourists and a luxurious tourist season, Fatoumatta’s father, (Saikouba Sisay) who is the founder of Alkamba Travel and Tours, a well-known tour and travel operator in Gambia, would create a link for more tourists to get their culture and Gambian made outfits from ‘YOUR BOUTIQUE’.
“I will be employing a bigger team for this, and I will be working with people in the craft market to create an album sort of, where all my works would be displayed and tourists will find it easier to get what they want from YOUR BOUTIQUE”.
On a personal level, everyone at some point cares about something in life and love those things. Fatoumatta, an entrepreneur and a designer, is also a philanthropist who loves and cares for children but more especially orphans and underprivileged. She mostly donates to the SOS orphanages in Bakoteh. This has been her before the establishment of YOUR BOUTIQUE.
“Life is a gift from our creator. He gives us the opportunity and the leadership mandate to give something back to people. I might be privileged to afford all my wants and needs but someone out there might not. These children need our support, they are our own and we have to invest in them, develop and build them in a way that we would be proud to call them ours. They need us and we need them too, children are the future of every nation and ours is not an exception.”