Dressmaker Douglas keeping the faith
PORT MARIA, St Mary:
Seated at her sewing machine, Mazawee Douglas was relaxed and chatting with daughter Latish Dixon, whose son was sleeping on a table when the Rural Xpress team visited her shop located in a corner of the Port Maria Market in St Mary recently.
They were busy passing time with little likelihood of any customers disturbing the tranquility of the Wednesday afternoon; it was just like any other day.
"It's not bright," was the response to questions about the level of business and prospects for improvement.
"There is nothing to occupy my time, so I just go on with the one- one (sale),î Douglas explained.
From Monday to Saturday each week, the dressmaker travels from Sandside, some two miles away, to the shop erected on land leased from the St Mary Parish Council and where she has been doing business for some 10 years. Over this time, many customers have opted for imported garments which are usually much cheaper and, in many cases, of suspect quality, resulting in declining sales. Undeterred, however, the small business woman decided to diversify, investing in a deep freeze and adding a range of drink and snack offerings.
She explained the rationale for this business decision.
"Some of the persons that come for their clothes, while them sitting and waiting they might say, 'Sell me a bun' or 'sell me a drink'. So I do dressmaking and I sell drinks on the side."
Unfortunately, this decision proved very popular not only with customers, but thieves as well.
"They broke my shop once and I grilled it. Them came back and them break it right there - pry the ply, push away the zinc and empty the shelf," Douglas explained.
For this reason, she has cut back on the amount of drinks as well as snacks - buying only three or six biscuits at a time and no more that a dozen Red Stripe beers and a crate of the very fast-selling small Busta drinks.
From they broke me shop, I don't buy anything much put in...the born-again Christian who is a member of the Emmanuel Apostolic church explained. Her faith in God and independent spirit, though, remain unbroken. Having to pay $750 per week for leasing the land on which the shop is erected, as well as the monthly electricity and water bills, means that the business is going through hard times, but the mother of eight adult children remains steadfast in her bid to provide for her household.t5
Having suffered a heart attack, her electrician husband cannot work and, as such, stays at home and the children help out when they can, but Douglas will not allow life's hardships to get her down. She does sewing to order and has strategically positioned herself to be take full advantage whenever the Lord does provide.