Sasa Designs by the Deaf: fashion fighting for change
We love fashion that fights to create a better life for others. Sasa Designs does just that.
We got the chance to chat with Megan, Sasa’s Director of Global Enterprise, and we loved hearing her heart for the women behind Sasa!
Tell us about the history of your organization
Sasa Designs by the Deaf was started in late 2011 when our first handful of artisans were trained. DOOR International, a ministry that works to create video bibles in local sign languages, had recognized a tremendous need for employment for Deaf women. DOOR mobilized training resources and in early 2012 Sasa Designs began selling its first pieces. Since then we have built an international brand, with partners in 6 countries! In 2014, Sasa Designs by the Deaf began the process of becoming its own 501c3, hoping to expand and serve many more Deaf women.
What are some of the trials and triumphs you have faced in bringing your organization to where it is today?
The biggest challenge facing organizations like ours is always related to scale and finances. Keeping 14 women working full time means we need consistent orders and sales. We face a lot of administrative challenges related to supply chain and sourcing, so growing big enough to sustain our work force is not an easy task. At the same time – we don’t want to get too big too soon – we want to make sure we can preserve the quality and care that goes into each piece. We have tried to grow organically and patiently – but we are always in need of new customers and partners to keep our team at work.
How have you seen God provide for your organization?
The most profound impact we have seen is in the total change in our artisans’ lives. These are women with enormous faith, despite spending a lifetime being set aside by families and communities as a result of their deafness. I honestly cannot express the joy of seeing an artisan like Susan, two years after coming to Sasa, welcoming us to her home and describing in her own way how different she was when she joined the team. Everything about her reflects her newfound sense of value: how she signs (talks), how she dresses, and her general spirit. She is also able to afford a much safer and securer room near our workshop than the original hut she lived in – and she now sends money to her extended family. What a transformation for a woman who was considered a burden – to now be in a role of provider to her parents and siblings!
As an organization, what are you most excited about right now?
We are always learning to be faithful! There are many months when we know we aren’t quite meeting the numbers we need to or getting the word out effectively enough. Then, a new opportunity comes up with a big organization or an individual with a certain skill set shows up and wants to help. We are excited about a couple of these new partnerships helping us take Sasa to the next level!
What are some of your hopes and goals for the future of Sasa?
In 2015 we want to establish a 5 year strategic plan that includes building our own workshop, hiring more Deaf artisans (including some men – we currently only work with women) and increasing the skill set of our artisans so we can create a broader product range. Our dream in 3-5 years is to set up Sasa in 1-3 additional countries where Deaf people face employment challenges and can help us create new product lines to keep them employed long term. We’d love to build more of a lifestyle brand to support livelihoods of Deaf people around the world.
Please do not ever doubt the impact you as an individual have to make. Every dollar you spend has the opportunity to lift an individual up. For organizations like ours – literally every single purchase helps us serve these incredible women by giving them the opportunity to work and support themselves. Thank you!
I just love Megan’s final words, such a great reminder that every purchase matters! You can find Sasa Design’s amazing products here.
CHANGE THE WORLD, SHOP BEAUTIFULLY!
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