Natalie Michael, an ex-employee of K-Way Manufacturers (the factory that produces Sparks & Ellis uniforms), tells us her story.
Natalie joined K-Way at the tender age of 16, where she worked her way up from a machinist to a line supervisor where she learnt to make a wide variety of uniform items. After 20 years with K-Way, Natalie left and moved to Pretoria to start a family. When she returned to Cape Town in 2016, she bought two sewing machines and decided to approach Sparks & Ellis for work opportunities. Knowing of her hard work and dedication, Sparks & Ellis did not hesitate to contract Natalie to make-up some of their uniforms on a cut, make and trim basis (CMT).
As Natalie’s workload increased, Sparks & Ellis then helped her by buying four additional sewing machines, a laptop computer, a printer and a delivery vehicle. Along with mentoring from Sparks & Ellis management and with the introduction of some new IT technology, Natalie is also now able to produce her own electronic invoices and statements in order to keep all her accounts in order.
Sparks & Ellis director, David Gaussen, says: “We take very seriously our commitment to helping to uplift SMMEs (Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises) to build a sustainable business that will, in turn, benefit their families, employees and their communities. Our company also benefits as the process ensures that we have good, flexible and loyal suppliers who become partners in our business. It’s a win-win for everyone.”
In the past few months, Natalie has increased her compliment of staff from eight to ten machinists who are all now permanently employed, most of whom, are either ex-colleagues or friends/family of Natalie.
Natalie says: “We learnt so much from our experience at K-Way and are thankful for the knowledge and skill we gained because this, makes it possible for us to produce quality items and run a very successful operation. With 17 machines and one delivery vehicle, Natalie’s small factory is able to complete orders timeously and of good quality. Sparks & Ellis supplies all the fabric for the garments and we make sure that we get the orders done within the timeframe given to us by them. We mostly produce ladies’ skirts, trousers and jackets. The biggest order placed to date was for 430 cleaners’ suits, which we completed on time and without any returns. So we are very proud of our achievement and we are very grateful to Sparks & Ellis for their help in getting us started and for the continued business.”