This past Saturday Make Welcome participated in the Harrisburg ARTwalk. It was our first opportunity to sell items that the women have made. The day before the ARTwalk, our class members tagged all the items with these lovely tags. Each tag bears the name of the maker on the back ...
The day of the ARTwalk, we displayed our colorful wares and enjoyed meeting new people and telling the story of Make Welcome, while we sold some of our rice bag totes, embellished hand towels, headbands, fabric flower hair clips, and quilted diaper pads.
We’re so grateful to Amber Benton, who designed our logo; Daniel Camenisch who designed our information flyer; and Annette Conrad who told us about the ARTwalk in the first place!
We continue to explore other opportunities to exhibit and sell the work of the women in the sewing class. Should we open an etsy shop online, sell through a local gallery type shop, participate in more craft and art fairs, do contract sewing work for other small businesses? These are some of the options we are investigating. As the skills of the women in the Make Welcome sewing class continue to improve, we are eager for them to see a greater financial return from the creative work of their hands.
This Saturday’s experience was so encouraging and we learned quite a bit! If you have any small business insights or suggestions for us, please feel free to get in touch with us through the Contact link here on the website.[. . .]
In a previous post, you read about our budding sewing machine ownership program and our hope that the women in our class will eventually be able to acquire their own machines. But why is machine ownership so important?
Think about learning to drive. How quickly would you learn if you only got behind the wheel once every two weeks? How confident would you feel about other young drivers on the road if you knew they’d only driven a few hours each month? Or imagine learning to cook. If you only had access to a kitchen twice a month, your skills would develop very slowly. It would be hard to remember what you had learned previously and your prowess as a cook would come very slowly. Would you be eager to eat a meal prepared by a cook who’d rarely been in the kitchen?! All of us learn best by regularly practicing our newly acquired skills, and to do this we need access to the necessary tools. One reason we would love for the women in our class to have their own machines is so that they would have the most necessary tool, a sewing machine, available to them and have more time to practice and perfect new skills.
As their skills increase, the women in our class will be able to produce items for sale that will supplement their family incomes. We find in our classes that we simply don’t have enough time to complete all the projects we are working on in as timely a fashion as we’d like. Since we are only meeting twice a month at this point, finishing a rice bag tote, for example, takes several meetings. If the women could work on their projects at home, not only would their skill level grow, but they would be able to work around the needs of their families and ir options for producing income generating items would increase.
Mending clothing is another skill the women could hone and use if they owned their own machines. Their current income levels often mean that our refugee friends wear used clothing from clothes closets and thrift stores. Our students have brought in trousers needing patching, a coat with a ripped zipper, and other items to class, to learn how to mend them. This service, mending clothes, is one that they would be able to offer to others, either free or for a reasonable charge, in their communities to friends and neighbors, if they had their own machines.
I hope you are convinced by now that machine ownership is an important goal for our Make Welcome students. We have already begun a program that includes class attendance plus a financial contribution from the students in order to earn a machine. We are excited about the possibilities and the growth in skill, creativity, and supplemental income that machine ownership will generate.
We’ll tell you more about how you can help in another post soon![. . .]