Each year in CT, social enterprises are required to report their progress toward fulfilling their social impact goals for the previous year. (Click on 2018 last year’s report to see how far we’ve come.) This post is the United Sewing and Design report for 2019 about our progress toward meeting our business goals which are:
- hiring individuals who have barriers to getting and keeping well-paid employment and,
- diverting materials from the waste stream into our business and preventing materials from our manufacturing processes from entering the waste stream
Goal 1: Hiring individuals who have barriers to getting and keeping well-paid employment
This year we began to focus on adding formerly incarcerated individuals to our pool of collaborators. We connected directly with the Department of Corrections Correctional Enterprises of Connecticut system that manages commercial enterprises within the Osborn Correctional Institution in Enfield, CT and the York Correctional facility in Niantic. The apparel manufacturing facility at Enfield includes a very well developed system of managing inventory, workflow and output. It includes patterning, plotting, automated cutting, sewing, packaging and shipping. Inmates are also employed in a computerized embroidery shop with the capacity to digitize patterns and render them on patches, apparel and hats. The female inmates at York sew mostly flat goods including sheets, towels and laundry bags using a variety of equipment. These activities greatly enhance the capabilities of the individuals making them highly skilled candidates for employment once they transition into society. Read my blog post about why you should employ formerly incarcerated folks here.
In 2019 our pay to independent contractors M.I. in Middlesex County and J.T. in Hartford County increased by 49% over 2018. Our work at the moment is mostly developing, prototyping and manufacturing small runs of patented products for individual designers including pet products, sporting gear and apparel. These designers also include an exciting group of inspired, urban designers in the Hartford area. We are actively involved in growing a vertically integrated apparel industry in CT along with groups such as Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. Our efforts also include creating connections between designers, producers of textiles, trims and yarn and providers of services such as knitting, dyeing and embroidery in the region.
Goal 2: Diverting materials from the waste stream into our business and preventing materials from our manufacturing processes from entering the waste stream
In 2019, we collected equipment and materials from all over the state of CT then redistributed them to individuals and non-profit service providers. We placed two unwanted sewing machines with one of our independent contractors and have taken in three more to be refurbished and distributed. We continue to sort our natural fibers, synthetic fibers, and pattern paper for recycling. Natural fibers are used by us, synthetic fiber materials will be taken to Fabscrap in Brooklyn. Unfortunately, the material is transported by car but we will try to offset the carbon footprint of that by collecting materials from other sources to fill the vehicle.
Follow our Instagram feed to find out what projects we’re working on (that aren’t patented), learn tips for reducing the quantity of materials you put into the waste stream and how you can contribute to the cause of fair wages, economic justice and the apparel manufacturing environment in CT.
Mary Ruth, Owner of United Sewing and Design has over 30 years experience in the manufacturing of products by sewing and is author of “Industry Sewing Construction Methods” http://amzn.to/2yMxMmk. Her focus is on design, entrepreneurship; social enterprise; the connections between the environment, the apparel industry, and manufacturing; and how owners can leverage artistic methods to benefit their business.