On Wednesday mornings I spend a few hours creating and learning with some amazing women in East Charlotte. I am a volunteer at Make Welcome, a local non-profit that teaches refugees how to sew.
Students (and two H+S Seamstresses) modeling their latest creations.
How I Discovered Make Welcome
I discovered Make Welcome in January of this year when a friend sent me a link to their information through an article posted on Charlotte Agenda. I was very intrigued as I had no idea Charlotte had a center like this.
I had been struggling for two years to find good seamstresses to employ at Holley + Sage and was at the point where I figured domestic factories were my only next logical step to grow the brand. When my friend showed me this article, I thought maybe I’ll give finding independent seamstresses one more chance.
I didn’t know it at the time, but Make Welcome was the answer I had been looking for. I am so very thankful that Make Welcome came into my life when it did. Talk about perfect timing.
Make Welcome and Project 658
Make Welcome is a part of Project 658, a local center for international and refugee communities. They offer many services including ESL courses, childcare, free lunches, and sewing courses (Make Welcome), and many other services for the Charlotte refugee community. It is a beautiful place where these individuals can come for guidance and love when they have nowhere else to go.
The Woman Behind Make Welcome
On my first visit to Project 658, I met Beth who runs Make Welcome. Beth is a truly amazing woman. She instructs four sewing classes at the center Monday through Thursday, and she also runs their online retail shop, Upcycle Life, which employs graduates and students of Make Welcome.
You can learn more about Upcycle Life here.
Holley + Sage and Make Welcome = All the Feels
I told Beth I was interested in hiring some of the ladies, so she suggested I teach one of the advanced classes how to sew one of my garments. For the next two weeks I taught the ladies how to sew the High Low Top.
I had never taught a group of students before and definitely not a group of ESL students. It was an absolutely amazing experience teaching these women to sew one of my garments. I not only found one student who I could hire, but THREE.
The New Holley + Sage Team
I am so happy to have these women on the Holley + Sage team. They are amazing seamstresses and they get to work from home while providing for their families. I cannot say it enough – these women are some of the sweetest, most determined and hard-working individuals I have ever met. I cannot begin to explain how grateful I am to have found Make Welcome and Beth and her team of volunteers, which I am now proud to say I am apart of.
Wednesday Sewing Class
So on Wednesdays I drive over to East Charlotte to help out with the Wednesday class. Most the ladies in my class are from Burma and I love watching them talk amongst themselves in Burmese. You can see in their eyes and their smiles and laughter that this is a place they love. It is a place they can come to feel a sense of community, to learn a new skill to provide for their family and to be happy. I am so honored to be a small part of Make Welcome and cannot wait to see where it takes Holley + Sage.
More to Come...
I am hoping to do more detailed posts on each of my three seamstresses so look out for those.
Interested in Hiring a Make Welcome Seamstress?
If you are a small manufacturer (like Holley + Sage) interested in hiring a seamstress(es) from Make Welcome, you can e-mail Beth at firstname.lastname@example.org.