The first Sevinch workshop

August 31, 2012


Finally the day came when Sevinch had to choose between Shithead and the continued existence of her business. This coincided with my own decision to stop being a corporate man, and to set up my own business, a textile testing laboratory in Cairo.

We rented two separate apartments, each within a few hundred yards of the other and a third apartment where we lived. This was on the island of Zamalek, which is somewhat akin to working and living in Belgravia. That is, if you can ignore the garbage in the streets and the broken pavements that risk broken ankles.

Sevinch’s workshop was on the ground floor, and had a tiny yard, in which we intended to do the spinning of cords. We rented from a very congenial lady called Madame Sadeyah: how congenial, we discovered later when she used to pop round for a chat every so often, and in a loud whisper ask whether we might have any vodka – or failing vodka, a beer would be just fine – in the fridge.

We built our first looms, set the whole place up, painted and decorated it – and waited. Sevinch was terrified: the thought of taking on the responsibility for her own production, for providing wages every week for 20 or so workers – it paralysed her. For six entire months her workshop remained empty, as she continued her daily commute to the Village of Rogues and Bandits. I was pulling my hair out with frustration, we were paying rent every month seemingly for nothing. It was the most dangerous moment of our lives: not only were we trying to get one new business up and running, but two; and this in a country that is notoriously difficult for foreign business owners.

I was also going through a difficult period. A textile laboratory is an expensive thing to set up and operate, and although I had a small portfolio of blue chip clients my former employers were doing much to try and frustrate the successful start up of the business.

But Shithead proved in the end to be our saviour. I can’t remember what he did, but as we have learned to patiently expect, people like him always overplay their hand just as they always underestimate the force of Sevinch’s rage once she realises she is being crossed. The next thing I knew was, the empty apartment was full of workers, the looms were resonating with the rhythm of the shuttles, and Sevinch was bustling around, her fear vanquished….

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One Response to “The first Sevinch workshop”


  1. You really make it seem so easy with your presentation but I find this topic to be actually something that I think I would never understand. It seems too complicated and extremely broad for me. I am looking forward for your next post, I will try to get the hang of it!


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