Everyone’s life follows a unique path. I got married quite young, and from then on, I immersed myself in family life, raising children and taking care of household duties. I am now a mother to four children, with my eldest being 20 years old and my youngest 8 years old. My husband took care of all our needs. Consequently, I spent 18 years dedicating my life exclusively to my family. Looking back, I find it hard to believe how quickly those years have passed. Naturally, raising children demands a significant amount of time and energy, which I gladly devoted to my family.
In 2019, unexpectedly, my son approached me with information about a grant competition from the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) project “Economic and social participation of vulnerable displaced and local population in the South Caucasus – EPIC”and asked if I would be interested in starting a job. For some reason, his question deeply affected me. It shook me to my core, and I realized it was time to venture outside of my home.
However, it wasn’t that simple. My husband didn’t want me to work; he wasn’t adamant, but he preferred me not to divide my time and energy between family and a job. My mother-in-law played a crucial role here, filling out the grant application on my behalf, presenting the completed document to me, and asking if I wanted to add anything. With her support, I participated in entrepreneurship course in the framework of the project “Economic and social participation of vulnerable displaced and local population in the South Caucasus – EPIC” of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) in cooperation with Action Against Hunger (AAH). The course aimed to economically empower women. This development in my life energized me, and I threw myself into the work wholeheartedly. Despite every training session being challenging, I never missed one. I constantly worried about being late at home, which added stress, but I was also filled with excitement, like a fifth grader experiencing something new and special.
These experiences radically transformed my life, restoring my faith in myself and the belief that I could achieve something significant. The training altered me completely, and now I encourage others that starting life anew is possible at any age and in any circumstance. It turns out that age, gender, and location don’t matter; if someone truly desires to start their own business, they can always make their dream a reality.
The GIZ and AAH teams consisted of incredible individuals who went above and beyond to help participants discover their potential. My determination paid off, and I became one of the competition winners, receiving a grant and purchasing sewing machines.
This is also a very interesting story. I had no prior sewing experience, but I was able to do what my family and children needed. In retrospect, I relied on my resourcefulness. My spouse owns a leather company, so when it came time to submit works for the competition, I took the risk of sewing a bag without using any patterns. The bag included belts, and these were the works I submitted for the final stage of the competition. Although my husband initially opposed the idea, he eventually supported me and provided the raw materials. Since then, it has been like this—I depend on my husband’s business for the necessary raw materials in any quantity.
After winning the GIZ project and acquiring sewing machines, I established my brand, Tamara’s. My character is quite changeable, so I don’t focus on a specific style. I work with raw materials, often not knowing what the end product will be. Each creation is unique, with no two items being exactly alike.Tamaras’ offers a range of leather products, including men’s and women’s bags, wallets, belts, bracelets, brooches, rings, and even souvenirs. Naturally, I strive to keep up with modern trends and tailor orders to customers’ preferences.
I sell my products through social media, with the help of friends and by participating in exhibitions supported by GIZ, where I receive new orders. Additionally, I am a member of an organization for mothers with many children, which unites around 20,000 women. This organization also aids me in selling my products, as its members support one another.
I don’t plan to stop here; I aspire to open my own shop. I am considering setting up a store near my home or renting a space. I want customers to select items in person and even participate in creating their own bags.
I hope my story inspires other women. Isn’t it remarkable how one day, with no experience, I started sewing bags? Perhaps my strong desire played a role, but without donor support, I’m unsure how far I could have gone. I don’t think I’ve ever been as strong as I am now. Without the GIZ project EPIC, I doubt I would have experienced this growth. When I was informed that I had won the competition, I was overjoyed. Initially, I hadn’t even considered winning; I just wanted to prove to myself that I could accomplish something on my own. All the challenges I faced only made me stronger.
I wholeheartedly encourage all women to believe that it’s never too late or too early to start. While I was well-provided for and didn’t lack anything, I now believe that everyone should have their own endeavor. I want everyone to have faith in themselves and then inspire others. Everything will work out; I firmly believe in it!
The Article is prepared within the women empowerment campaign #ProudHer. The Campaign is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH and funded by the European Union and German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).