Integration using needle and thread

Thanks to a research project completed at Design School Kolding, local immigrants are now designing beautiful decor from leftover textiles

We are often confronted with stories of how refugees struggle to become integrated in their new communities. But how often do we hear the story of how a town discovers these people’s skills and uses them to build a collaboration? This is what has happened in Kolding. A group of locals with a Middle-Eastern background have shown a great interest in and flair for working with textiles. And based on a research project completed at Design School Kolding, Kolding Municipality is now providing the framework that allows local immigrants to use their creative skills in the SHEworks workshop.

From discarded textiles to new products
SHEworks is an offshoot of the research project THREAD, which has identified immigrant women’s craft skills and entrepreneurial competences. Equipped with needle, thread and creative ideas some of these women are now transforming leftover textiles donated by local companies into new products.

- In the municipal Jobmarket Committee we want to support the entrepreneurship displayed by our local immigrants and this requires us to think outside the box. We have done so by backing the SHEworks initiative, which allows 20 women and men with Middle-Eastern background to establish themselves and set up a sustainable business, says Poul Erik Jensen, Chairman of the Committee.

He is happy to see that SHEworks has become a living example of how socio-economy and circular economy complement each other and generate brand new sustainable solutions that focus on human and material resources.

The ambitions for the entrepreneurial community are high. The members produce home decor and company gifts in a cultural interplay between Danish and Middle-Eastern craft techniques.

- SHEworks’ most important job is to design appealing and commercial products from the leftover textiles that are available to us. I believe that using a design approach we are able to lift the products to an aesthetic level while taking care of people and the environment, explains Solveig Søndergaard, designer and project manager.

She helped start the project while working at Design School Kolding. Even before the launch, local and national companies and organisations have shown a great interest in working with the SHEworks women. And having the social, economic and physical aspects in place, the immigrants’ way to the jobmarket is significantly reduced.

The project is located in the Bronze Hall at Kolding Nord Recycling Depot. Here, Redux – Waste and Recycling are busy setting up activities that communicate reuse, circular economy and a sustainable mindset.

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