Earn & Learn update

In our last newsletter, we talked about our new Earn and Learn Tote Sewing Program. In March this year, right before Covid-19 hit, The Social Outfit entered into a collaborative partnership with Australian fashion label, Ginger & Smart to produce tote bags using the label’s remnant fabric.

Women from the refugee and new migrant communities who have previously accessed The Social Outfit’s outreach programs and completed basic sewing training with us have been engaged in an “earn and learn” work experience program to ethically manufacture the totes. 

This program has been specifically designed to extend the domestic sewing skills of the participants; as well as providing paid work experience in a boutique Australian manufacturing environment.

In-person classes were suspended after just 3 weeks as Australia went into lockdown and with our students suddenly finding themselves isolated at home, we needed to pivot quickly to continue the connection with everyone by offering online craft classes via Zoom.

We worked with some amazing local textile artists including Clementine Barnes teaching patchwork, our own Joucelen Gabriel teaching face-mask making and zipper techniques and Nicole Bakarat who ran crochet workshops. 

Our online craft workshops have been very well received as they offer much-needed social connection whilst providing new skills to lift participants spirits and keep their hands busy during these challenging times.

TSO Sewing School > Industrial Manufacturing Pivots to Online Craft 

The success of our 10 week online craft pilot has inspired The Social Outfit to launch an Online Craft and Sewing School!!  This school will teach skills in sewing, mending, handcrafts and textile arts for women from refugee backgrounds and will provide an avenue for skilled makers to sell their works via our community marketplace. 

As we’ve seen during Covid-19, online craft classes provide much-needed connection. Switching to Zoom was an immediate safety response, but in doing this we have fast-tracked our long term plan to extend our reach by providing on-demand video classes on a permanent basis. This allows flexibility to engage with our community and is especially important in the current climate, with hands-on craft proven to reduce stress.

This project has received support from our amazing community via the Wear The Change campaign and the City of Sydney’s Covid-19 Response Grants. We are very excited to begin recording classes and will keep you posted as things progress!

Hi, my name is Wissam and I have worked at The Social Outfit since August 2018. I arrived in Australia 4 years ago with my son and I am originally from Homs, Syria, where I had my own dressmaking and tailoring business.

I love working at The Social Outfit because of the community. I have also learnt a lot of new skills here. One thing I really like about my work at The Social Outfit is that I have learnt how to make different sizes of clothes, from extra small to large. I don’t need to worry about making clothes to a customer’s exact measurements like I used to do, so this is much easier!

I learnt to sew back in Syria in an institution similar to TAFE. In my business, I used to make women’s clothes, do alterations, and I even made wedding dresses.

My favourite memory from my time at The Social Outfit? It was when we had the 5-year party in Wynyard. My son came, and it was great to meet the families of all the other seamstresses. It felt like we were all one big family.

When I am not at work, I enjoy visiting my brother’s houses. Three of my brothers live here in Sydney, and they have large families with many children and grandchildren. When we get together, we eat good food and during summer we like to go to the beach.

In the future, I would like to keep sewing, making beautiful clothes with fabrics like the silks we use at The Social Outfit. I also love making the different purses like the foldover purse and the spliced clutch because they are quick and fun. In the future, I would like to have a job where I get to do something like that too. 

Wrap up of our community fundraiser 
Wear The Change

This Refugee Week, in true TSO spirit we got creative with how we could raise awareness and celebrate the incredible contribution that people from refugee and new migrant backgrounds are making in the fashion industry.

Our #WearTheChange2020 Campaign invited participants to style the same ethical garment five ways across five days, showcasing fashion that is made fair, made for good and good for the planet.

We had an incredible response, coming together with the support of 80 ambassadors (and over 500 donors!) to surpass our goal and raise over $50,000. This will go directly towards funding our non-profit community programs where individuals can express themselves, share their worries and ideas, and come together in an encouraging environment.

A huge THANK YOU to those who participated or donated - we can’t wait for next year!

It is astonishing to look back over what we have achieved together over the past few months. There have been challenges, but resilience, connection & creativity will always prevail!

Thank you for reading, we hope you enjoyed it.

Stay tuned for issue #3 of Threads of Change.

The Social Outfit x


July 02, 2020 — TSO Community

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