Cleveland Sews Update

by Sharie Renee

We’re just past the 6-month mark since the launch of Cleveland Sews and wanted to again, thank all of you that supported this tremendous effort. Since our launch, we have made some great strides because of your generous support and we want to share these outcomes and successes with you!

Many of you met Monié Lewis through our Cleveland Sews Launch, as well as her presence in the store.  Cosmic Bobbins first met Monié when she came to us two years ago with an interest in learning how to sew.  Monié participated in our youth sewing apprenticeship program and spent a year at Kent State learning fashion design.  During her holiday break at home, Monié asked for an opportunity to work holiday at the store.  While Monié loved sewing and fashion, she was being called to work on a greater level with her dream of someday running an LGBTQ homeless shelter.  Monié came back to Cleveland and enrolled at CSU to study nonprofit management.  Since then, Monié has been growing with us expanding her role as an administrative fellow, but also teaching sewing in the shop. 
Through your generous support, we could offer Monié a full-time opportunity to learn social enterprise management, operations, and to help us build Cleveland Sews.  Monié has been developing her teaching skills through working with the refugee youth sewing program.  Your support has allowed Monié to assist in building out the curriculum for training programs and piloting some of it first-hand.  Our vision is about building from within, empowering our participants to become the agents and role models for this work.   
As a result of your support and Monié's role, our founder has had the opportunity to work on the academic scaffolding for Cleveland Sews.  Sharie advanced her graduate course work at Case Western Reserve University’s in nonprofit management this semester and will be close to completing the program by the end of December.  As a result of all these great things, we have moved even further through our action plan for Cleveland Sews, building our program design. Over the winter, Sharie met with a number of refugee communities and learned even more fluidly about the barriers and challenges facing these communities.  As a result, Sharie and board chair, Eric McGarvey more formally crafted a program to meet the populations where they are at and to better connect them to the Cleveland Sews model through a Bridge Program.  Through this program, intergenerational crafting and foundational sewing is taught to participants increasing skill-building, self-confidence and empowerment.
Sharie has been piloting the Bridge Program through a women’s refugee support group in partnership with ASIA Services in Action and USCRI (U.S. Committee of Refugees and Immigrants).  There has overwhelming success and excitement from the ladies and we hope to receive support to launch this on yet, even a grander scale.  We are excited to be developing this work regionally in partnership with The International Institute in Akron and ASIA Services.  In addition, to our work with refugees, Sharie is continuing to teach urban youth at CMSD’s High School for the Digital Arts in partnership with Center for Arts-Inspired Learning.   Sharie also had the opportunity to travel to New Mexico for visit Kathleen Fasanella’s Albequerque Fashion Incubator, where she gained more “how-to/hands-on” factory experience.  Through this professional development opportunity, Sharie was one of 20 volunteers that cut and sewed 300 pairs of cargo pants donated to native youth. The skills she observed and participated in will directly influence Cleveland Sews.  In addition, this “sew-a-thon model” is something we’re dreaming up to do right in our community! Stay-tuned!!!
Sharie has also been mentoring an Egyptian immigrant tailor, Ramy.  We were introduced to Ramy through his neighbor.  Even though he spoke minimal English, she learned about his sewing skills from his wife.  The neighbor immediately said “I’m going to take you to Cosmic Bobbins!  They will help you there!!!”  This is truly the essence of our work and the expanding model of Cleveland Sews.  We’re had the opportunity to teach Ramy about the American marketplace and in turn, Ramy has taught us even more about sewing.  Through a fun collaboration with entrepreneur, Xyla Foxlin of Parihug, we have been able to design Xyla’s prototypes and samples.  We’re hopeful that Xyla will keep this work with us and allow us the opportunity to train individuals through Cleveland Sews.