Rosco Adams, Software Developer

(South Africa)

Rosco & Mom Alphadine

Rosco & Mom Alphadine

I am actually into Software Development, my mom owned her own factory and did CMT (cut, make and trim) for over 30 years, she wished one of her kids went into fashion and design so she could retire and just work on that. She passed on last year, which has prompted me to look into it.

What do you remember about your mom's work day to day?

Alphadine’s day-to-day was as you would expect in a fast paced industry such as this, extremely busy. As organised as the production would be, the day is littered with impromptu client visits and consultations, mechanical breakdowns, and supply runs, all keeping production going. My sister Chantalle worked quite closely with my mom and together they kept things going.

Alphadine was unique in that she was a one-woman shop and she owned that vertical. She was able to do laying up of material, pattern cutting, fusing, sewing, cleaning of garments (removing extra bits of cotton etc), ironing and packaging. What surprises most people is to learn that she was also a qualified sewing machine mechanic, so she could rectify mechanical breakdowns quickly, in order to keep production going and to keep costs down.

What made her truly unique was her ability to make clients feel like family. She was always professional and always went that extra mile to help her clients out, which is why she always had business and her clients would likewise help her out at a drop of a hat.

My mom has done work for young designers still in fashion school, small fashion startups as well as large clothing stores, and she treated all of them with respect and understanding.

My mom had a passion for uplifting others, which is why she was involved in skills development training here in a seaside village here in the Western Cape of South Africa, as well as travelling as far as Malawi, running a sewing skills development program. She had a passion for teaching and helping women support themselves through sewing and become business owners themselves.

What was it like growing up around that?

As long as I can remember my mother has been in the business of clothing manufacture. My parents had 6 children in their care and we literally all grew up in the factory. I remember my mom on occasion taking me with to the clothing factory when she couldn't find a carer for the day and I would sit in the canteen area watched over by all the ladies in the factory.

Alphadine had aspirations to do more and to become her own boss. After consultations with the factory boss at the time Alphadine started her own small business from home. To get her business off the ground, she continued working as a line manager during the day and worked on her business at night.

This was the first time we were exposed to what it took to get a business off the ground, the hard work you had to put in to get it going. It didn't work the first time. I remember my moms business closed the first time, and she was unemployed. And after a year or two she tried again. And eventually she succeeded.

Spending afternoons with my mom after school at the factory opened my eyes to what the clothing manufacture industry was all about. I spent a lot of my time in a clothing factory all through high school as a weekday afternoon / weekend job, from sweeping, laying material and even working on the fusing roller (and burned many a finger on that machine).

I truly learned that hard work and dedication does indeed pay off when you deliver not just good work, but to give your best work. My mom would often say, whether you are producing garments for big brand labels or producing them for low cost value stores, you always give the best quality you can deliver and not necessarily what the client can afford.

Do you have any actual interest in fashion yourself (besides doing it for your mom)?

I have always had an interest in creating a brand, but never pursued it. When I was young around Christmas time I used offcuts in my mom’s factory to make some very decent looking Christmas stockings and managed to sell them all within a day for a tiny profit. I have yet to design and do a manufacturing run.

My Wife also has an interest in fashion, and with my mom did a few limited manufacturing runs, to see the viability and interest in them. And the interest is there.

Alphadine had always hoped one of her children would create a brand, so that she could semi-retire from manufacturing. She would oversee our production on a part time basis and help us build up a business and see us succeed.

I am inspired by my mom to pursue the interest I once had when I was young and also own my vertical in doing designing, pattern making and to improve my sewing.

What area of fashion do you plan on getting into?

My wife and I have plans on doing a women’s clothing range, grading sizes to realistic expectations of what people’s measurements are, instead of just grading in a linear fashion. It makes a huge difference catering to actual measurements of our demographics to make them feel and look good, versus just producing garments that fit well in small sizes, but are completely different in larger sizes.

We have two kids and as such I do have an interest in designing and creating a premium range of formal children's clothing for special events.

How will you switch from software to fashion? Do you think your past software career will help at all?

I do think my past experience in software development and working for a Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) company will help me. I will be able to control and manage the e-commerce front end (Websites/mobile applications) while also creating and maintaining the back end systems, infrastructure and integrations to additional third parties like warehousing/distribution.

And in the age of Covid-19 and the explosive growth we’ve seen in online shopping, I believe it is vitally important to trade online and to add value to a clients experience rather than just pushing product.

There is also a lot of creativity in software development - when you are confronted with problems that need to be addressed in an efficient and maintainable manner, and I believe I can translate that experience into fashion. If I can take the problems clients or other fashion creators are having, I believe I am able to provide tangible solutions.

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Feb 12, 2021

by: Chola M.

Thanks for sharing such a personal story.

It’s great to see examples of real people that succeeded in fashion when so am people want to portray it as a dead-end career.

I love that you highlighted how much hard work fashion it does take. I think many people underestimate and undervalue that.

I also learned about a new fashion career I never thought about, Sewing machine mechanic!
Good luck with your fashion business endeavors.

We hope to be hearing of your success very soon.

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