I have a great relationship with Buffalo Rising, one of my local clients here in Buffalo. They are a blog dedicated to sharing what’s best about this city — food, art, architecture, and the fantastic social good work that happens in this city. I get to offer a lot of input in regards to the stories that I find most exciting about the people and groups that are doing great things here, and Buffalo Rising has given me a lot of freedom to cover these.
Buffalo has a large refugee population, especially those who have come from countries like Burma, Bhutan, and Somalia. And over the years, several organizations have dedicated themselves to providing entrepreneurial opportunities to these refugees – including the West Side Bazaar, which I’ve covered on this blog before, as well as The Refugee Women’s Workshop at Stitch Buffalo.
Stitch Buffalo provides a means for women from diverse countries, including Bhutan, Nepal, Burma, Thailand, Angola, and more, to create and sell handcrafted goods and apparel to the local community. The products are often created by the women at home, as well as during the several times a week workshop sessions at Stitch’s central retail location where they can socialize, collaborate on projects, and learn new techniques and skills from each other.
Over 200 women have participated in the program since its founding, with 40-50 artists being active at any given time. The community that has sprung up around the workshop is vibrant and caring, with women often swapping stories, assistance, and advice with each other and those volunteers who help to operate the program and retail store.
I was incredibly lucky to get to meet and photograph some of these women and learn more about how they came to Buffalo. Most of them first learned their intricate embroidery skills while living in refugee camps prior to making their way to America, and continue to refine their skills under the direction of the program’s founder Dawn Hoeg. You can read about a few of these women’s journeys on Buffalo Rising.
Be sure to check out some of the behind the scenes that Buffalo Rising Shot about the project.