Over the past year, the RiSE program has watched a talented core group of seamstresses come together and take ownership of designing and stitching products outside of class sessions. These six women, Yinshan, Veronica, Ciin, Ada, Tahereh, and Gabriela, have created one-of-a-kind products using repurposed pet food bags, burlap rice bags, donated fabric, cardboard and vinyl banners.
We have a dream to produce textiles locally by creating a Cut & Sew Production Facility, but often our dreams take dollars to help make them happen. This dream will, so in February Rising Village applied for a grant from Lobeck Taylor Family Foundation to fund industrial machines and a cutting table so that the women can sew faster and more creatively (you can't sew vinyl banner material on a standard home sewing machine.) In May we received the news that we received a grant that will allow us to purchase the machines and table we need to launch our Cut & Sew Production Facility. First step taken!
We're so grateful to LTFF for believing in what this business will provide for the women and the community.
We believe there are people in our community who are eager to learn the skills that will allow them to sew locally and make a decent, living wage creating products that carry the "Made in the USA." label. Job creation and economic opportunity is a core tenant of Rising Village's mission, and the RiSE program has given us a vision for how we can launch a business that creates jobs for those who might find barriers in the traditional job market. An example, local refugees resettled in our community often have to learn the language and this can keep them from fair-wage jobs in safe and positive environments. But they also come to the U.S. with sewing skills and a cultural respect for sewing as a means of income. We're looking to help those new to our community find jobs that will respect the income-earning challenges they often face.
As soon as we received our grant funds, we purchased two industrial machines from Sailright. These machines are designed to sew canvas for sailboats, so we knew they could handle any type of non-traditional fabric we wanted to use in our production. We specifically were interested in using vinyl banners to stitch a batch order of tote bags for a local nonprofit - our first cut & sew order received.
After assembling the machines, we called on our partner Shae Haining (The Tulsa Tailor) to train two of the women. In under an hour, she had Ada and Tahereh stitching the vinyl handles for the bags.
We are ready to stitch products that are creative and repurpose materials like non-recyclable vinyl and plastic to market and sell, as well as traditional fabrics for clients through cut & sew batch orders.
We're currently looking at funding options for our own space so that we can purchase more equipment with the LTFF grant funds, and launch our business. In the meantime, we are grateful to have a small space donated to us at 91st and Delaware to continue to take batch orders and produce the women's designs using repurposed materials.