The Sewing Cooperative – a social fashion project – is a community based initiative established by Angie Robles, a Philippina foreign worker in Israel, who initiated an educational sewing center for a group of women from the migrant and asylum seeker communities in South Tel Aviv, with the aim of equipping them with the skills of sewing.
The sewing center has been active for the past year, and some 25 women have participated in the sewing classes. The Sewing Cooperative is based on the experience accumulated in the center and takes it a step further by establishing a sewing-collective among a group of 15 women. The occupation of the majority of the women active in the sewing center is manual labor, predominantly cleaning and domestic work. Therefore the goal of Sewing Cooperative is to enlarge the women’s possibilities to generate more income and to seek other employment opportunities. The model is one of a cooperative production process, owned by the women, in which the organizational as well as design decisions are made by the group. Using a cooperative production process, assisted by a professional fashion designer, the women manufacture fashion merchandise that will be sold to various stores, generating income for the women. The group meets on a weekly basis to work together and each woman is also able to work individually in the center throughout the week. Furthermore, the women attend a business management course that will enhance their understanding of the market and will assist them in forming a long-term businesses plan, after which a professional business consultant will continue to coach them throughout the following six month.
The cooperative is led by Angie Robles is a long-time member of the leadership group that established the Community Education Center (CEC) and the sewing center and by Noa Elizabeth Goren, who completed her MA in sustainable fashion design at Esmod College in Berlin and is working as a fashion designer.