A necktie is not solely part of man’s business attire; it can also connect very different groups of people in the community. Having learnt from social workers that many women are forced to stay at home to take care of their families and thus are unable to go out to work, Margaret Leung set up the social venture Les Beatitudes which upcycles neckties into clutch bags, pouches and other accessories and hires housewives to work at home to produce these items.
Women’s welfare has long been Margaret’s concern. She formed a Women Council when she was working for an iBank. During the period of SARS outbreak, she fought for time off for pregnant staff to prevent them from being infected. “In the beginning, events organised by the Women Council were exclusive for women. But when the male colleagues pointed out that ‘Girl’s Club’ was just as bad as ‘Boy’s Club’, I realised that both men and women could play a part in addressing social issues. Connecting diverse groups is the only way forward. Then I tried to connect different parties,” Margaret says. When she started Les Beatitudes, one of the considerations was how to engage men who wanted to contribute. “Neckties come in vivid patterns and colours, nice silky texture and manageable size, making them the superb choice for upcycling.
Every piece of Les Beatitudes product is handmade by trained grassroots housewives in Sham Shui Po, Tin Shui Wai or Wong Tai Sin. Over 200 women have received training and around 50 of them are now engaged as qualified sewing moms. Yet, not all are eager or available for work when an order comes in. Customers can find a little tag on each of the products with the ladies’ signatures and stories of a specific theme. “We have a historic culture and public transport series featuring bamboo billboard, bird cage, teacup, peak tram, ding-ding tram, star ferry, Victoria Harbour and firework celebration. Some of our sewing moms have never taken those transportations, nor have they ever crossed the harbour to Hong Kong Island because most rarely venture out of their district. Les Beatitudes helps these women rebuild self-esteem and expand their exposure and better integrate into society.” Apart from the sewing moms, Les Beatitudes also links up volunteers of different professions, women groups, artists, hearing challenged and retirees to contribute to the project.
Scope of Services
persons with disabilities