We are more likely to associate fashion with opulence and indulgent luxury, but for Abigél Sheridan, it proved the perfect way to give back to forgotten communities.
And what began as at-home fashion exchange parties in hopes to raise some funds towards SA's underprivileged has grown to be so much more via the volunteer-based social enterprise Chic Mamas Do Care.
The NPO uses quality pre-loved clothing to raise funds for educational projects across South Africa, and so far, Chic Mamas has raised more than R8 million rand in the past ten years.
"We are a South African volunteer-based social enterprise built on a circular economy, selling and swapping good quality pre-loved clothing in our shops in Cape Town, Durban and Johannesburg. All proceed goes towards educational development projects".
'Building a healthy foundation for learning'
"I always wanted to do something about the limitations of education in impoverished areas, particularly in Early Childhood Development," Sheridan told Parent24.
"I wanted to help break the cycle of poverty in SA".
Passionate about Early Childhood Development, Sheridan says that Chic Mamas has been focused on supporting educational projects that teach "school readiness, literacy, numeracy, counselling, art therapy, and pre-school renovation".
"We focus on Early Childhood Development because we believe the first seven years are the most important for building a healthy foundation for learning".
Sheridan says that support from communities has been "amazing" and believes that the success of Chic Mamas Do Care is due to the "win-win-win" nature of the NPO.
"We are very blessed to have nurtured such caring communities around us. Ubuntu is really the basis of our mission… It is a win-win-win: for the environment, for the project beneficiaries and the customer's purse. We are fostering a culture of active citizenship," she told us.
And it has not gone unnoticed.
Recently, Sheridan was recognised as a Social Entrepreneur finalist at the 2021 Santam Woman of the Future Awards, an opportunity for which she says she's "immensely grateful".
"It is incredible to have our efforts recognised and appreciated. It further affirms that we're doing something meaningful and impactful. Being a finalist reflects our teamwork, all of our supporters and our caring community," she said.
'A meaningful difference'
While there have been many successes, Sheridan says, "the need is overwhelming," and running the organisation is not without its challenges.
"But no matter what, we have to keep going. So many children need our support; we have so much to do. And while this keeps our team motivated and inspired, we work very hard to deliver on our mission".
Above all, Sheridan says she remains motivated because Chic Mamas Do Care has made a "meaningful difference".
"Every act of giving creates a ripple effect. It is paid forward and reaches more people as it swells. With this in mind, we wish to work harder and reach further".
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