SewGreen was created in 2007 in response to perceived and frequently expressed needs. Precursors included several local reuse fashion contests and shows in 2005 and 2006, using the name ReImagine Fashion. In the course of organizing these events, it became evident that reuse and DIY fashion was on the rise.
A small group of volunteers, led by SewGreen founder Wendy Skinner, discovered that 1.) kids, teens, and young adults were really interested in designing and making their own clothing; 2.) most public schools in our area did not offer much in the way of sewing, and almost none had sewing machines for students to use; 3.) reuse was increasingly recognized as sustainable; 4.) people in our community wanted a source of good, inexpensive fabric and reliable sewing machines.
Taking all of this into account, we launched a pilot program for reuse, began to offer sewing classes for all ages, and applied for grants to get us off the ground. There followed a period of steady growth, interspersed with times of struggling to earn revenue and stay funded. Throughout even the difficult times, SewGreen remained relevant and responsive.
Highlights of the past 10 years include a three-year grant from the City of Ithaca that funded a thriving youth program for teens with a "passion for fashion." Generous grants from the Park Foundation and others allowed us to continue hosting young apprentices and teen workers. From the very beginning, we hosted free annual summer programs for teens that evolved into summer sewing camps with jobs for camp counselors. We've welcomed hundreds of diverse children, teens, and adults to our midst, for classes, volunteering, jobs, and support.
SewGreen has developed essential collaborative relationships with local youth agencies and schools, who refer teens to us for mentoring and jobs. Our partners include the Ithaca Youth Bureau, The Learning Web, Learning Web Outreach, JOBLink, New Roots Charter School, and others. Our most recent partner is the A-Plus Enrichment program at Beverly J Martin elementary school, where SewGreen established and runs permanent after-school sewing classes.
SewGreen's three-fold mission and purpose is to mainstream and model sustainable practices; provide affordable community education open to all; and empower youth to develop lifetime skills.
Wendy Skinner, Director
Katie Mangan, Store Manager
Barbara Anible, Store Manager
Mary Fox, Store Assistant
Ekaterina Anible, Seamstress
Store Volunteers: Bonnie Shelly, Barbara Van Dyk, Katie Siriani, Cindy Bray, Joan Trutko, Erin Stoneking
Teachers: Virginia Metcalf, Cindy Bray, Louisa Smieska, Ann Dolan, Katie Siriani, Barb Anible, Katie Mangan, Kat Anible
Teen Workers and Teachers: Meara Hamlin, Li Turk, Eva Bohn, Victoria Greenberg