HOW IT ALL STARTED
Elizabeth started teaching women to sew in Pretoria so that she could achieve some financial and emotional independence for herself and help other women achieve the same. During this time Elizabeth was running a brand and selling clothes, whilst at the same time providing informal skills training in pattern-making and garment construction. Ten women who were housewives worked with her, meeting once a week in informal spaces such as theatres, church halls and school halls, as a means of enjoyment and earning an income to become more self-sufficient.
As a single mother, Elizabeth moved to Cape Town and worked to set up a similar informal initiative, also going into historically disadvantaged areas such as Cloetesville, Idas Valley and Kayamandi to find women who showed an interest and wanted to sew. Many of these women wanted to learn the skills then go back into their communities and sew and sell garments for themselves, so Elizabeth helped them to do this, teaching a group of adult women once a week.
The shift to younger learners happened when one of the women asked whether her daughter, who had just finished matric, could join, and Elizabeth started training her, following which other young people joined. Elizabeth was still teaching informally and renting space but it was at around this time that she approached the bank in order to buy some land. At that time, Technopark in Stellenbosch was just a vast open field and Elizabeth was one of the first to build on what is today a thriving business hub for Stellenbosch and the surrounding areas, with a large number of buildings having sprung up all around her over the years.
Originally, it was difficult for Elizabeth to get approved plans because building requirements in Technopark stipulated that 200m2 was the minimum size build, but there weren’t the funds at the time to build to that extent, so a small square block of 100m2 was built with the promise to build bigger later on. It was 1996 and the Elizabeth Galloway Academy of Fashion was born. Two years later Elizabeth built the second floor, and over a period of time expanded across, followed by the adjoining building next door, as more and more students came through the doors and the school started to establish its reputation for thorough training whilst providing individual attention to students.