Each year in CT, social enterprises are required to report their progress toward fulfilling their social impact goals for the previous year. (Click on the 2020 report to see how far we’ve come.) This post is the United Sewing and Design report for 2021 reviewing our progress toward meeting our social mission goals.
- To employ highly skilled, formerly incarcerated individuals in production processes
- To divert materials from the waste stream into our business and prevent materials from our manufacturing processes from entering the waste stream
Goal 1: Employ highly skilled, formerly incarcerated individuals in production processes
2021 was an event filled year for United Sewing and Design and all of our team members! On March 9th, we moved into our workroom in the reSET Social Enterprise Trust incubator space on Bartholomew Ave. in Hartford, CT. This supported our growth from a decentralized manufacturing model employing independent contractors to a centralized manufactory with employees. Since then, our team has grown to 4 full time and one part time employee and a local technical designer.
We are fortunate to have three returning citizens on our team. They all graduated from the State of Connecticut’s training program in the construction of products using flexible materials. The State has two training programs, one in Suffield and one in Niantic. In these programs, inmates learn the basics of pattern making. The also use a variety of industrial cutting and sewing equipment and learn quality control. Our employees, also received advanced training in sample making and sewing machine maintenance. Our current projects focus on knitwear, gear bags, dog beds, table linens, high end bridal veils and re-enactor costumes.
In November of 2021, United Sewing and Design was awarded a grant of over $9300 from the CT Women’s Business Development Council. The funds are designated for the purchase of a new computerized lock stitch machine and a new computerized cover stitch machine. We are extremely grateful to receive this grant. The machines will greatly speed up our processes, improve our quality and offer opportunities for our employees to upgrade their skills.
Additionally, because of the location of my business and our social mission of hiring returning citizens, I was nominated to enter the Inner City Capital Connections training program designed by the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City. In this program, executives prepare their businesses for future success and for the process of seeking capital. Participating in this training has helped boost my marketing program, and improved my leadership and financial management skills.
Goal 2: Diverting materials from the waste stream into our business and preventing materials from our manufacturing processes from entering the waste stream
In 2021, we collected equipment and materials from all over the state of CT. We distributed it to various non-profits such as Chrysalis Center in Hartford. Because of our increased manufacturing capacity, we have stored more than 500 pounds of material and paper scraps. We will be recycling all of that during events this spring. Stay tuned to our social media to find out more about our upcoming textile recycling event to support our neighbor, Hands on Hartford.
2022 and Beyond
Last year, we added four new industrial sewing machines, two new pieces of cutting equipment, a new 5′ x 10′ cutting table, plus multiple storage units. We continue to focus on improving work processes to produce our best work at the fastest pace possible to fill the needs of our customers. To that end, we will continue to add new equipment and new skills throughout 2022.
Follow my Instagram feed to find out what projects we’re working on (that aren’t patented) Subscribe to my YouTube channel for classes such as this video on choosing textiles for your products. In my emails to customers, I include a variety of business advice and info about trends in soft goods manufacturing. Join my email list by going to our Contact Us page and entering your info. You may also find the info in my blog useful. You can subscribe to that here.
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.