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Workshopers: Cairo’s Courses in Art, Industry & Initiative

Workshopers: Cairo’s Courses in Art, Industry & Initiative
    written by
    Tanya El Kashef

    Business partners and what seem like comfortable old
    friends, Sandra Abdallah and May Tawakol, had an idea and stemming from that
    idea came endless possibilities. There is an obvious void in the Egyptian
    market as a whole, they explained; it lacks in competition, something that
    undoubtedly pushes local standards up; and the concept to continually learn is
    almost non-existent though, as Abdallah reminds us,
    knowledge is power. Seeing an opportunity to promote
    focused, applicable-to-real-life learning, in a short period of time, the duo
    launched
    Workshopers.

    Handling the PR and Marketing is Soraya Shawky and her
    on going challenge would be to convince the ever stubborn and unchanging
    Egyptian that evolving is healthy; learning something new is always possible
    and that stepping outside of your comfort zone is usually rewarding. At least
    this is what the project hopes to suggest.

    Spelled with a single P on purpose, the choice of spelling
    signifies actively doing something, in this case a workshop; it is meant to
    express craftsmanship and not inaccurately associate itself with the word
    shopper. The purpose behind these
    workshops is to take an industry, or a specific profession, and offer
    participants the chance to be educated on it
    and be able to carry it out in a
    limited time. The two to three day workshops are hosted by a carefully selected
    professional from within the field and are comprehensive. 

    The courses, which are certified, teach using the real
    world and reference the industry
    s
    actual workings. This means that the content is not simply out of a textbook or
    study guide, but drawn from direct work experiences and cover what truly
    matters
    the information presented is what
    the industry actually offers, both the  good and the bad.

    The first workshop, Starting Your Own Fashion Label took
    place the weekend of the 2
    3rd of February 2012 at the JW Marriot and
    cost 4500LE; it ran for three days from 9am-5pm. The lecture, or comprehensive
    course, was available to anyone
    no prior education or experience
    needed
    and covered all the basics of
    starting up your own fashion line; the advantages and disadvantages of being
    your own boss, business structure and plan, the process of designing and
    sampling a collection, sourcing fabrics, marketing, promotion and all else the indistry
    entails. More importantly, however, is the manner in which these basics were
    conveyed.

    The speaker of this workshop was Toby Meadows; author
    of the bestselling book
    How to Set Up and Run a Fashion
    Label
    expect the second edition out later this year. Meadows, a young
    Englishman, shabby chic in style, slowly found his passion for fashion
    consultancy and eventual love for speaking to a room full of people from his
    years of working at the London College of Fashion.

    Having helped establish Belle & Bunty and other
    small fashion businesses, Meadows seems to have an affiliation for the underdog
    detecting potential for growth.
    His interest in the Middle East as emerging economies is no different; he sees
    these markets as
    starved of local brands yet globally influential, and are therefore full of opportunity.

    Meadows describes his professional development course as
    something malleable and changeable, depending on its students. He acknowledges
    each attendee
    s differences in thought and
    practicality, it is in those unique instances that his class develops and is
    directed; as he says
    every student brings something”
    and by engaging his students, the class takes on its form.

    An ideal location for these workshops, the JW Marriot
    is peaceful and well equipped. The class was a cosy size of seven students, each
    with their own chair and table space complete with a bottle of water, notepad
    and pen and a plate of sweets. At first glance, seven seemed like a small
    number, but in fact the intimacy of the class only added to the atmosphere. The
    all-girls group was eager and interested; and that is the beauty of classes
    like these
    everyone is there because they
    truly want to be.

    The class time flowed nicely with constant discussions
    going back and forth between everyone in the room; Meadows
    teaching was charming and friendly and his case-studies were enjoyably
    relatable. Spending three full eight-hour working days in this context, the
    group seemed to have come out rejuvenated and inspired.

    Speaking to a few of the participants afterwards, the
    feedback was promising with words like
    amazing and perfect going around. The general
    consensus seemed to be that the course highlighted what is fundamentally required
    in order to succeed in the fashion business and that Toby Meadows was a hit.

    After pulling off their first attempt at hosting a
    workshop, would either of the
    Workshopers creators do anything different? The answer is no. Abdalla described it
    as
    flawless” and on another
    positive note, Tawakol mentioned how pleasantly surprised she was to find that
    there are still Egyptians out there who are interested in acquiring a skill and
    would take the initiative to do so. This is ultimately what their project is about
    facilitating knowledge and as a
    result, inspiration. It seems in their first attempt, they have succeeded.

    The second
    workshop,
    Start You Own Restaurant’ with Howard Cannon, starts
    April 28th 2012 at JW Marriot.

    To follow their
    updates and coming workshops, visit their Facebook page.

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