Taryn Cantor – Sew Sara

Taryn Cantor, who are you? 5 words and go…
Just five? How about 7… a boundary-pushing/chance taker, creative, tenacious, empathic, growth-oriented, human, analytical…

Fashion is your industry, has it always been… what is your background?
From as far back as I can remember, not being satisfied with the attire Barbie came with, in her box, and having to re-dress her to incorporating mom, gran, and even grandpa’s old clothes from my dress-up drawer into my wardrobe. I suppose it has always been a passion of mine. My background is in all my industries of passion; design, fashion, music, writing and incorporating all of those elements. Formally, I completed an honours Cum Laude Dramatic Arts specializing in set and costume design. I have also dabbled in other diplomas.

Sew Sara is a fashion employment empowerment initiative, what in the world gave you the idea, take us right to the moment of its conception?
I had a realization on an aeroplane. To put into context, I’ve always branded myself as a “creative” or at least that’s how other people have seen me and in turn how I have seen myself. So, naturally, my lines of career choices have been in typically creative industries. On a business trip when I was working for a fashion house, I sat next to a woman who, judging by her body language was incredibly nervous, and the plane hadn’t even take off yet. I started talking to her, she said she had never flown before, but the trains and buses were full so this was a last resort. As the plane started to move and she clutched at the arms of the seats, I found myself grabbing the aeroplane magazine, putting it between us and engaging in discussion around the headlines and pictures on the pages to distract her. Before we knew it, we were up in the air, she released the arm rest, grabbed my hand and thanked me. If I’m honest, I got a bit of a thrill and at that moment, I realized I could do more to help people. I didn’t plan for Sew Sara to happen, or become what it is becoming. All I knew was that I wanted to do something, to use something I had inside of me to help others in need, with the skills I had. When I met the first group of women I worked with at the back of a Church in downtown Johannesburg and did a quick rough sketch of what was to be the first “Sew Sara” dress, I had that same feeling I did on the aeroplane all those years ago.

“Sew Sara produces unique, easy-wear designer garments for the modern woman of any shape or size” tell us more?
The range is designed to fit and flatter multiple shapes and sizes. I’ve never liked labels, even my sizing labels say “your size”, although there are two sizes. The designs allow multiple shaped women to fit the same garment, and to wear them in multiple ways, depending on your shape. As a fashion consultant, I am always thinking about different ways to wear an item and the fit of a garment on the body. The range is simple, focused, yet comfortable and versatile. In this way, I aim to empower not only the makers but the wearers too.

Sew Sara, who is Sara?
The name SARA is one that is all-encompassing and uniting of women of different backgrounds. She is the ultimate matriarch symbolizing strength and independence, which are the qualities with which I try to endow the women who make or purchase the items.

Without support from South African’s, SA labels will tank, fact… sorry for the shitty one but I think it’s important for SA to understand the role we all plan in ensuring our own talent not only survive but thrive…. thoughts?
The world is a global metropolis. I think that people are constantly looking for new and fresh ideas in a fashion world which produces copious amounts of simulacra. I don’t see this as the issue – who can blame us, quite frankly. The origin of a garment no longer holds any essence of the place it was made or conceived, and the same things repeat themselves in every country. What I do have an issue with is the fickleness of the industry. For example, Cape Town used to have a thriving CMT (Cut, Make, Trim) and textiles industry, which went bust after China swooped in with cheap labour and inferior products. Retailers created a demand for fast fashion and created an apathetic and undiscerning customer. It is those customers who are the culprits of our unethical, socially and environmentally unconscious way of purchasing. I think it’s about education and taking responsibility.

Are you happy, really happy with what you are doing, is it what you thought it would be?
I am very proud of what I am doing. If anything, I am anxious that I am not doing enough. I’m not entirely sure what I thought it would be. If I can make a difference in one person’s life, I will be happy – not satisfied, as I would hope to make a bigger difference, but it would mean one more person in the world who has a sense of what it’s like to be empowered. I am learning and growing every day –  about business, people, relationships, connecting, discipline, responsibility, culture, communication….the list is endless, and that’s the way it should be.

Future of Sew Sara?
I would obviously like to see Sew Sara grow, for the women to take on and empower other women. I also have a little plan hatching to slowly but surely take over the world, just kidding but there are definitely global possibilities.


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