How do we help them?
The Community Cloth provides:
• Seed Grants
• Peer Support
• Market Opportunities
Each participating artisan has access to seed grants, which she can use to purchase materials and supplies to begin producing her items. Volunteers help the artisans use the seed grants by taking them on trips to the local hobby stores to purchase materials, discussing different product ideas and supply needs, and more. Artisans contribute back into the program through a process of “microbartering” whereby she gives the program completed products worth the amount of seed grants she takes out. These products are then used by the program for marketing and outreach purposes, which helps us expand our support base.
The Cloth hosts artisan training sessions to expose the artisans to the American enterprise system, teaching them basic small business skills as well as hosting product development trainings for those interested in expanding her product line.
Recently, Cloth volunteers took a few of the artisans on a special field trip to Anthropologie for a product development session! The artisans were excited to see and learn about the new colors and styles for the spring and summer sales season.
The experience of being a refugee can be an isolating one — first, you are driven from your beloved homeland, only to be set up in a refugee camp; then from the camp, you make your journey to resettle into the U. S. Along the way, the refugees lose a part of their social network or “community.” The Cloth encourages rebuilding of those communities by inviting each artisan to join a peer support group — informal gatherings of artisans (who usually reside within the same or nearby apartment complexes) who get together to knit, weave, talk, and support each other in a variety of ways. They often build strong relationships and consider each other as friends or sisters.
The Community Cloth helps our artisans expand market opportunities through scheduling private in-home sales events, developing vendor opportunities with our local retail partners, and organizing and promoting public sales events.
The artisans have enjoyed our partnership with local local farmers markets, like this one at Discovery Green Park.