A Strandfontein woman says she has used her love for creating home decorations as a way to deal with the loss of her parents, have a positive mindset and boost her self-esteem.
Charmaine Sims, 57, said she drew inspiration from her late father’s work making women’s handbags and her late mother’s sewing machine.
Her late mother, Clarabel Dodgen, had two sewing machines, which she used to make an outfit for her on Ms Sims’ and her husband Nigel’s wedding day in the 90s.
Ms Dodgen lived with her daughter for the last three years of her life before she passed away from breast cancer in 2006.
Her father, William Dodgen, who had also died from cancer, in 1996, was a women’s handbag designer, who initially started out at his first job as a sweeper, and her grandfather, Benjamin Dodgen, was a confectioner and baker. “He made the most beautiful cakes. He made the last confirmation cake for me just before he passed on,” she said.
“When my mother passed we had to declutter, I didn’t want to give the sewing machines away as I was attached to it. This made me feel closer to her after her death,” she said.
From her mother’s sewing machine she explored making decorative items for home spaces such as curtains and scatter cushions. She made it freely for family and friends as gifts. She started her own project called Simply Chic later on.
“I am very passionate about this, it is more than just creating a decorative piece. Every cloth I cut I put my all in it. I like to take pride in what I do. I put everything into it. I didn’t think I would be here,” she said.
“As a young girl I had always loved fashion but I wasn’t as confident as I would have liked to be. It’s only of late that I have started to believe in myself,” she said.
It is through her overcoming the loss of her parents and finding her confidence through home decoration that she will be hosting her very first women’s day event on Saturday August 5.
Her husband said Ms Sims has a heart to serve others more than herself.
“I know her heart. I support her vision to help other women. Too often a woman is marginalised in our culture and society and not given sufficient credit. She has an intention and this is what women are about. It’s about celebrating and highlighting women with pride,” said Mr Sims, an author and teacher in the United Arab Emirates (“Author releases fictional tale of self-discovery”, Plainsman, September 9 2020 and (“Strandfontein author releases second book, Plainsman, September 15 2021).
Her future vision is to provide underprivileged women with free home makeovers or donate decorative items to them and their families. “Every woman deserves a beautiful home,” she said.
She even modelled her living room after the soapie, Generations, that appeared on SABC 1, adopting the beige aesthetic and homey feel, she said.
Her son, Matthew, 28, said his mom serves as an inspiration to not only women but to him as well.
“Her perseverance is admirable and proves that if you commit to a passion, you can achieve so much. She consistently rises early in the morning and rolls into late nights with her work. She has defeated many fears along the way and the Women’s Day event is the pinnacle of her journey. I’m super proud of her,” he said.
Her long time friend, Lilian Willis, said: “Charmaine inspires me and many others. She loves people and shows compassion in all she does. I am so excited for her future,” she said.
“You can achieve anything if you persevere even though it may not be as easy. With the right support system, my family believes in me and I thank the Lord everyday for that. I don’t think I would be where I am today. I’m here where God wants me to be,” she said.
Her Women’s Day high tea event will be at Parkhurst Primary School hall, Westridge, with guests such as Suidooster star, Jawaahier Petersen, Arendsvlei star, Jolene Martin, and singer Lauren Solomons.
For more information email Ms Sims on firstname.lastname@example.org