Sun | Oct 22, 2017

Blind and visually impaired get funding to expand craft business

Published:Sunday | August 2, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Maxine McIntosh(foreground), vice president of Superior Crafts and More, demonstrates her expert craftsmanship while in the background is blind weaver Camille Welham.  

The visually impaired and blind crafters of Superior Crafts and More are fulfilling their vision of expanding their business to include a new collection line themed Home Essentials-to-Go.

This expansion has been made possible through a grant from the Digicel Foundation to purchase the tools and equipment to strengthen the organisation's capacity as they develop and expand this new product line.

 

Product line

 

"Our Home Essentials-to-Go line includes fruit, laundry and storage baskets that are done in cane, cord and wicker," said Maxine McIntosh, vice-president of Superior Crafts and More. "We have done it in the past but it is something we are looking to focus on in the upcoming months."

With a total of 16 persons currently employed, the special-needs crafters are now looking to hire up to 15 additional special-needs persons over the next two years. These new hires will be trained in the area of expert weaving using cane, cord and wicker as their main material to make all-purpose baskets.

"We're making a lot of difference; we give opportunities for visually impaired and blind persons to earn their own income. It also builds self-esteem, showing them all is not lost, that we can still be in the work world and included in our society," she added.

 

amazing and inspiring

 

For their part, Patrice Sterling, entrepreneurship programme manager at the Digicel Foun-dation said, "It's nothing short of amazing and inspiring to see the talent that exists within the special-needs community in Jamaica.

"At the Foundation, we are committed to improving the quality of life for special needs individuals, so we are very happy to be able to assist these exceptional crafters and entrepreneurs to expand and diversify their product offerings.

Importantly, we are also very happy that this expansion will help to provide needed jobs for other special-needs crafters."

Established in the 1980s, Superior Craft and More operates from the premises of the Jamaica Society for the Blind on Old Hope Road in St Andrew.

The team was originally known for restoring steel-bent chairs, rocking chairs, metal veranda chairs, hampers, straw hats and craft display items - which are redesigned by using cane, wicker and cord, woven to form fabric-like material. Now, the crafters have expanded to focus on a home line of all-purpose baskets.