History of Handmade by Survivors
“It’s not just about the product. It’s very much about the person that put their creativity and their heart into the product.”
Have you ever wondered how our Handmade by Survivors products started? I have! As a newish staff member, I am still learning the history behind all our programming. I was able to sit down with Bekah, a Family Advocate and the staff member who makes products with survivors.
Product Making History
Bekah loves art and took on the responsibility of our crafting groups many years ago.
“I really liked to do activities that involve self-care, particularly for adults, because adult women don’t often take time to take care of themselves,” she says. “And in an abusive relationship, are discouraged from taking care of themselves. I really believe in the idea of giving them a safe space to tap into creativity.”
Early product-making focused on lip balm, homemade lotions, and salve because they’re easy products to make.
“We would go into the kitchen and grab a microwave and take it into the art room. We bought a little hot plate and we would just do an impromptu craft group and teach ladies how to make things for themselves.”
“Throughout the whole process, survivors helped along the way. Every product we’ve made has a story connected to it. It’s not really about the product, it’s about the individual that came up with the product.”
“We would play word games in our craft group with whatever scent we were using. I would have participants choose an essential oil or a flower or an herb that they were really drawn to,” explains Bekah. “They would share why they were drawn to it. From there we would research and figure out what notes went well together within that scent.”
Participants created Soothing Serenity, one of our very first soaps, from start to finish. Last year, the Benevolence cold-process soap also was imagined and formulated by a participant.
“She happened to pick up an essential oil that I was using for a group activity the following day and fell in love with the scent. We came up with a blend and decided to add an extra soap that we weren’t even planning to do.”
The Heart of Our Products
“The whole purpose of what we do is about the journey for the individual working on the product. Our end goal is to give them a safe space to tap into skills that they already have and to give them a safe place to tap into something that might give them some self-care down the road. Something to be proud about.”
Every Handmade by Survivors purchase is about the person that put their creativity and their heart into the product.
“I very much went into this with the hope of creating a space for economic justice for women that have not had those opportunities. The women I work with have skills that they just don’t tap into because they haven’t had the encouragement, or the time, or don’t realize they have the skills.”
Over the years, many ladies have gone on to open their own online shops or make their own products and sell to small businesses.
Bekah’s Favorite Product
“I love anything Awaken Joy. I love that peppermint scent. It reminds me of my grandmother, so it just takes me to a happy place.”