A Cut Above

Jasmine Dheda has always had a passion for sewing and making things with her hands. So it’s really no surprise that the 29 year old is enjoying a creative career as a Medical Textile Technician for Custom Technologies Limited in Taupō, where she makes custom seat covers for wheelchairs. It’s a job that requires an abundance of ingenuity and imagination.

“I’ve always loved being creatively challenged and making something that looks amazing,” says Jasmine. “I love the variety of tasks I get to do in this role. Every wheelchair seat we make here is shaped and customised for an individual person. No one job is the same and requires not only some problem-solving ability, but a lot of creativity as well!”

I’ve always loved being creatively challenged and making something that looks amazing

Jasmine is about to complete a National Certificate in Canvas Fabrication (Level 3) through MITO – something she’s always wanted to do in order to learn as much as she can and build on her skills and knowledge. 

“I’m really enjoying the training programme which covers everything from sewing machines and the fittings you should use, to all the different fabrics and their properties. I think it’s fantastic to be able to back up the practical skills I’ve gained with the theory aspect and understand why you do things a certain way.”

Jasmine’s supervisor, Michael Rohloff, can’t speak highly enough of her talents – describing her work ethic and skill set in one word – ‘perfect’. “Honestly, she’s incredibly reliable, diligent and produces an outstanding quality of work – I couldn’t ask for anything better.”

“The feeling you get when you’ve finished a job, knowing you’ve made someone’s life a little more comfortable is wonderful,” says Jasmine. “Occasionally, I’ll even get sent a photo of the person sitting in their wheelchair or a thank you note because they love it so much.” 

Jasmine Dheda

Jasmine Dheda was presented with her award by MITO Chief Executive Janet Lane

And if any further proof of her abilities was needed, Jasmine was recently named the OFPANZ Apprentice of the Year, Tier One – something she lists among her greatest achievements. She was personally presented with both her award and $250 by MITO Chief Executive Janet Lane and also received a new Leister plastic welder generously donated by Carr Group.

“I was just absolutely ecstatic and so excited when I found out I had received the award. It’s an unbelievable opportunity and will show people that I’m really dedicated and keen to put in the extra effort and do a really good job.”

Entrants for the award - open to both OFPANZ members and non-members who were apprentices in MITO‘s Motor Trimming or Canvas Fabrication training programmes for less than 15 months - were required to construct a Messenger Satchel to prescribed specifications. However, apprentices were encouraged to express their creativity in bag design and fabric choice – and Jasmine knew exactly what she wanted to do. 

“We have 10 cars at home,” she laughs, “and I had recently started to pull the seats apart in my Lexus in order to retrim them. So, I got the idea to recycle the leather from the seats and turn it into the satchel. The actual task was pretty tricky though as the leather was quite worn in places and only small pieces were suitable to work with. Luckily, they all fit perfectly in the end!”

Jasmine’s combined love of sewing and cars means she hopes to one day start her own business in motor trimming and potentially even upholstery. “That’s definitely what I’d like to head towards in the future. I enjoy working with furniture too and all the pretty fabrics that you can get. There’s some really amazing stuff out there!”

Outside of work, Jasmine is busy raising a young family with her husband and, when not retrimming the seats in one of her cars, you’ll find her racing them as part of the Taupō Car Club – where she has been the ClubSport organiser for the last three years. A busy schedule indeed, but then again, Jasmine’s a cut above.

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