Name: Win Sun
From: MoGaung (Möngkawng) Kachin state, lives in Mandalay
Owner / Founder of Crown Tailor sewing workshop.
Win Sun started her business 25 years ago in Yangon. Her husband, whom she met at Mandalay University, is from Mandalay. Since their marriage, they live here with their two children (their oldest daughter got a scholarship and stays currently in Singapore). She owns Crown Tailor workshop for over 20 years now. Her husband has his own textile retail business.
She started sewing in her hometown Moe Gaung and continued to do so when she was at University in Mandalay. She explains the importance of learning a skill besides her study, Physics, as job opportunities are limited in Myanmar. She has always been interested in sewing and therefore continued to develop her skills.
Crown Tailor has a vast number of employees and also provides training in specific skills. At the moment, 25 women work at Crown Tailor. Most of whom are from Mandalay, but a few come from regions further away. In the past Win Sun advertised in newsletters for her workshop to find employees, as she wanted to expand her business. Nowadays she doesn’t advertise anymore; new employees get introduced by the women who work at Crown Tailor.
Win Sun explains it is not the aim of Crown Tailor to be a training centre. It is a combination of a paid working place, where there is also room for training in new skills. Everyone who works here knows how to sew, but Win Sun can teach them some new skills. Some of the women work at Crown Tailor for years already. Others leave after five to six years, so there is not much change in staff. Some of the former employees start their own business, but most decide to remain working at Crown Tailor.
Win Sun also never stops learning. While Crown Tailor was already up and running, she went to Bangkok for training in draping and making corsets. These techniques were an upcoming trend in Myanmar, and Win Sun saw this as an investment for her workshop.
Also, when training is offered in Mandalay from Japanese tutors, she is eager to learn. “There is much competition in Mandalay, so you need to deliver quality and stay up to date”.
The salary of her staff depends on the skills and daily tasks. Everyone has their responsibility, from cutting the patterns to sewing to finishing the products. Women who work here for a long time and are very skilled can choose if they want to get paid per piece or prefer to receive a monthly salary.
“My wish is to expand my workshop but especially to make new designs, I know this is a dream! At this moment I do not have time for this. I am a fulltime mother and run the business, but maybe when all the kids are out of the house…”
Her 13-year-old daughter (Hnin Shwe Yee) is interested in sewing, but Win Sun is not forcing any of her children to follow in her footsteps. Her oldest daughter (Su Shwe Yee) received a scholarship for four years and goes to boarding school in Singapore. Her 3,5-year-old son just started preschool. “The most important thing for me is that my children are happy in what they do. They should make their own choices”.
(This conversation was translated by their oldest daughter, Su Shwe Yee. She was visiting her family during her post-exam break before going back to Singapore to start her third year).