Last Friday was a special day for our Make Welcome group for several reasons. We met for the first time in a new space, a large classroom at a local church that is a short walk from the apartment complex of two of our students. What a joy to have room to spread out, to set up a cutting table with mat and rotary cutters and to have more room to spread out fabric and see the possibilities of color and pattern combinations for the trim for our rice bag pillows. Creativity flowed!
At the beginning of class, we talked about the business aspect of our sewing work and gave the women the money they had earned from sales of items at the recent Harrisburg ARTwalk. This is the first time we’ve sold items and the first income they have received as a direct result of their newly learned and developing sewing skills. We continue to explore our options for future sales and ways of teaching both sewing and business skills.
Finally, we talked about the sewing machine earning/sponsorship program and showed the women the spreadsheet we are using to track class attendance. Each time a student attends class, she reduces the cost of her sewing machine purchase by five dollars. The women were excited to see how the price is coming down for them with each class. We realized that actually seeing the spreadsheet was a great incentive and made this program more tangible to them.
One of our students who is expecting a baby soon counted down the class times until she would earn her machine and decided that she wanted to go ahead and purchase it. The cost was not as low as it would be if she had waited, but she is eager to have a machine so she can sew at home after the baby arrives. So she paid her cost of the machine and it was purchased earlier this week. She’ll receive it at class this Friday. We are thrilled that SS will now have a machine in her home and excited to see how she will use it.
The cost of these machines will be subsidized by donations. We will be launching our Rally.org site soon for any of you who want to help make sewing machine ownership a reality for these precious women! Stay tuned …
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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.[. . .]