September 21, 2011

Crafting for a Cause: Industrial Design Student Does Co-op at Local Non-Profit

Meredith Gratton, Industrial Design ’11

Co-op Employer: Women’s Craft Cooperative at Rosie’s Place www.rosiesplace.org

Hometown: West Chazy, NY

Thirst for Justice

For Meredith Gratton, BIND ’11, the opportunity “to work in an organization that combined design and human empowerment,” seemed like the perfect opportunity. Spending her second co-op semester working at Women’s Craft Collaborative (WCC), a sector within the local nonprofit women’s shelter Rosie’s Place, was an eye-opening experience for Gratton. She and other volunteers at WCC worked alongside women in the community in need of job and skill development—turning old or vintage buttons, necklaces, and bracelets into new and beautiful jewelry, which is then sold on the collaborative website.

A Growing Professional

As her co-op progressed and her design skills and creativity became more apparent, Gratton’s duties evolved. “I designed a new line of chunky necklaces and magnets for the cooperative that are now being sold,” she said. She also had the opportunity to attend craft fairs with the WCC where she helped sell the accessories.

Business Savvy

The founder of the WCC was also Gratton’s supervisor, so she was able to pick up some business tips as her co-op progressed. “This experience opened my eyes to the challenges of running a business and complications that exist in businesses dealing with social justice and empowerment.”

Crafting a Successful Future

The most rewarding part of working at the WCC for Gratton was spending time with women and getting to know them and their stories. “[Working there] gave me a better idea of what kinds of issues these women face and [on] their perspectives,” says Gratton. “It definitely strengthened my desire to be in a field where I am working to help people in some way.”

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