We’ve started sewing together again. After 6 months of only doing in-home production, Covid19 conditions in North Carolina have improved enough that we felt it was okay to start up sewing manufacturing together. There’s been lots of changes in how we work, and not everyone is going to be sewing on-site for the foreseeable future. But it’s an encouraging start.

Here’s an overview of the changes:

  • Temperatures taken before we start.
  • Each woman works at her own table with a Plexiglas divider
  • We all wear masks.

Four ladies started with us for this new fall semester. Three of them have been with us for at least 6 months and one is brand new! (We’ll be introducing her soon.) Because of virtual school, there’s a bit of childcare finagling that’s happening. Mai isn’t able to attend at all, but her husband comes to pick up the carpet bag pieces and takes them home. We then chat with an online video call to go over questions about the material and project.

Napkins that are cute, but not quite perfect. Free gift time!!

We’re starting a new – for us – production line method of sewing. But first, we’re trying to get mitered napkins down to perfection! As part of the training process, we’re working almost exclusively with donated fabrics. When napkins are sewn that are usable, but not quite up to sales standards, they’ll be listed at a deep discount or be given free to customers that make purchases over $25 at our online store. Follow us on Facebook or Instagram to see when those free products are being given away.

Finally, here’s some brief introductions. As a note, we use pseudonyms for everyone in our program because of security concerns.

Jul – The director of the Persona Grata Goods and chief bag designer. She’s American, but has recently been rediscovering her Lebanese roots and learning Arabic.

Fairbe – From Afghanistan, this amazing lady works another full-time job in addition to sewing with us. She loves to bake large, flat Afghani bread, and practice English.

Fatima – Also from Afghanistan, this sweet friend is incredibly crafty. She’s always creating and has ideas for many items to make from all sorts of materials.

Mai – From Myanmar, she’s our go-to Aila Carpet bag seamstress. It’s not uncommon for her to be sewing away while a little one is sleeping on her back in a traditional Burmese way of carrying babies and toddlers.

Plus, there’s a new seamstress and several volunteers who help with English conversation, pattern design, admin work, etc. We hope to profile them soon. We’re also starting financial and business training with the hope that someday these women can help run this business or another venture. We’ll be sharing more about that in the days ahead.

Thanks to you, our amazing customers and supporters who help make this program happen. If you want to invest in the program, consider purchasing from our napkin collections.

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