AKTOBE REGION – In Khromtau, what began as a hobby has turned into a major enterprise and an example of socially responsible commerce.
Sewing has been Antonina Galustova’s favourite hobby since childhood, and after she finished her studies at Novotroitsk College in the Orenburg region, she decided to become a professional seamstress.
Returning to her native town, Galustova began work as a training foreman at Vocational School No. 164. The collapse of the Soviet Union, however, caused the school to close. Like many of its teachers, Galustova found herself out of work, with her planned career path suddenly in serious doubt.
Not one to give up or give in, Galustova rented a room in a former district consumer service centre, brought her old sewing machine there and, even in the difficult 1990s, made a business out of her hobby. Galustova sewed baby things, pillowcases, skirts, shorts—everything that was hard to find in shops in those days. Soon, her sewing workshop, the only one in the mining town, was flooded with orders, some of which even came from the Donskoi mining and processing plant itself, the backbone of the town. With demand so high, Galustova sold her workshop and, with her brother, quietly bought larger premises and new equipment to expand production and invited her former students from the vocational school.
Today, Galustova has a modern sewing workshop with the latest equipment. Over the years, she has established good relationships with raw materials suppliers in the oblast centre. Among her clients are the Donskoi plant, TNK Kazkhrom, the local church, the mosque, a fitness centre, kindergartens and, of course, the locals of Khromtau. A lot of orders have also come from the House of Culture of Miners, which hosts a variety of activities. They make suits for children and traditional clothes.
“The whole city comes to us, and we are thinking about expanding again. After all, we are the only dressmaker that works with leather and fur,” Galustova said.
These days, she plans not only to expand production, but also to open a dry cleaning shop and a laundry and to provide these services to the mining-processing plant. The only barrier to these plans is a lack of space, but local executive bodies have promised to help: in the near future, a big, new business incubator for new entrepreneurs will be opened in the town, in which the authorities intend to allocate a suitable working area for Galustova.
With the expansion of production she wants to employ more workers and increase her production of industrial clothing and gloves. She says she will give preference to people with disabilities, who, despite good professional skills in sewing, cannot find jobs and receive meagre allowances.
“In his state of the nation address, President Nazarbayev stressed the need to pay more attention to people with disabilities. I’m ready to do this. Taking care of these people is our duty to ourselves and society,” she said.