Today, let me tell you a story about sewing, and escaping poverty.
Nasyitah Tan Wah Ling’s first interaction with sewing was a memory of her late seamstress mum, a hunched figure paddling away at the Singer late into the night, her shadow flickering by the lamplight. Her mum never wasted materials, relying on skill, wit and artistic ability to turn the mundane into pretty things.
For her, that memory of the struggle for a better life embodies the spirit of spirit of enterprise, dedication and industry. This memory has shaped Wah Ling’s life choices subtly, and as an art and theatre-trained crafter and educator, she found her calling in sewing, as well as social good. Eventually, it led to the creation of The LOOMs Workshops (TLW), a social enterprise.
“It takes a village to raise a child. Likewise, support of a community is crucial in nurturing healthy and empowered mothers equipped to raise their young and provide for the old.” – Wah Ling
The LOOMs Workshops started out as an art, design and education studio specialising in handmade functional crafts and costume design. They provide education and employment for disadvantaged women through making and the sale of homeware and accessories.
These activities empower the women to change their own lives, hoping that there will be a day where perhaps, the struggle would not be as hard as it was today. More impressively, their workshops even cover self-improvement, confidence, motivation as well as vital financial management and planning skills. Skills that some of us already have, and take for granted, but these women sorely need and are vital to help them ease their situation.
The LOOMs Workshops journey has not been without challenges. In Wah Ling’s own words, “Having zero business experience and knowledge, learning the ropes and trying to earn your stripes at an age where people no longer expect you to fail is an extremely challenging process.” This is especially true with her self-imposed bottom lines of both social and finance returns. Difficult as it may be, the challenge encouraged her. Although not many people took her seriously in the beginning, she managed to see successes in the past one and a half years.
Every little bit helps, and working closely with the people she is trying to empower gives her encouragement as every little impact she makes is clearly felt by someone out there.
Currently, The LOOMs Sewing and Crafting Mums are all clients of their partner, VWO Beyond Social Services. They are from low income families residing at the Henderson/Delta areas. Some are also single mums who need to care for their children, and home-based crafting projects are ideal for them. Just as importantly, The LOOMs Workshops is building a community and network to help wherever they can.
One of the people that The LOOMs Workshops has helped is Rusnah, who was approached by Beyond Social Services to work with them. Despite starting out with no sewing skills, her various projects with The LOOMs Workshops have brought friends and a stable income. Today, she works in the supervisory role to guide and mentor new Sewing and Crafting Mums, and is a source of inspiration to them.
Some of the products The LOOMs Workshops and their Sewing and Crafting Mums are really quite pretty! They have also recently launched their “Treats for Mum” Gift Sets, in collaboration with Simply For Love. The sets contain aprons, hand painted post cards, felted scrub soaps and travel face & body kits. Spread the love, and do some good at the same time!
In addition, they have other product series such as their Bespoke Aprons and coasters. Needless to say, these are all handmade, and all help a little towards supporting their social cause.
Do keep a lookout for our next shoutout! We will be featuring more artisanal products, as well as makers with a cause, and crafting tutorials for a little more hands on fun! =) Till next time! – Thinges
The LOOMs Workshops organizes training programs for disadvantaged women to bring them out of poverty. To find out more about their great work, visit: http://www.theloomsworkshops.com.
Thinges is a platform for handmade and beautiful thinges. To find out more about our Maker’s stories, crafting workshops or physical product showcases we do, sign up for our mailing list at http://bit.do/contactthinges, drop us an email at [email protected]. Or download our selling app at http://onelink.to/58uku3 and the buying app at http://onelink.to/fwf5gu.
Thinges started as an experiment. Can we help tell the story behind the handmade products? Can we help others see how beautiful handmade is, compared to mass manufactured products?
But I digress. This series is not about Thinges. It is about the Makers, some of whom come as far flung as India, from a village of a dying craft. From Vietnam, where every stitch is another grain for a mother’s child. Or even simply from Singapore, where every stroke of the pen screams defiance that “I can live on my craft, and there are people who will love it too!” Drop us an email of you have a story to tell, too.