Way back in 2009, when the world and ILFA were still young, I profiled a newly-opened non-profit on Bergen between Rogers and Nostrand called Sue Rock Originals Everyone. On Saturday, invited by founder Sue Rock, I swung by to see how things are going three years on. As it happens, things are going swimmingly.
Sue Rock Originals Everyone is a one-of-a-kind organization that provides support to survivors of domestic violence. Working both through their own networks and with the Center Against Domestic Violence, Ms. Rock and her team of volunteers provide training in textile arts (sewing, knitting, crocheting, weaving, etc) to survivors of domestic violence, under the rubric of "make what you left behind." Teaching skills that, as Ms. Rock put it, "we all used to know," the organization provides a new wardrobe for women who may have left their old one when they left a bad situation and the skills to make even more clothing (for personal or professional pursuits). Moreover, the process itself is therapeutic, a chance to work together in small groups to create new things for a newly turned page.
While they've garnered plenty of positive press (see the video below), the organization works mostly on a donations-and-volunteer basis. Ms. Rock, a veteran of the fashion industry, has packed her storefront space to the gills with donated fabrics, yarn, thread, and more (the contrast from three years ago, when the place looked full, was remarkable). This is a blessing in disguise, for while they'll certainly accept donations, having a strong base of consistent donations allows them to focus on programming, serving dozens of women every week.
In addition to their non-profit programming, Sue Rock Originals also sells some of their own designs from their tiny display window and shop up front, including high-quality and inexpensive bathing suits, lingerie, and men's dress shirts. It's this element of their business (which is, of course, deeply connected to the non-profit side) that will be on display as a part of Brooklyn GO in two weeks. Crown Heights has many artists participating, and ILFA will be GO-filing (get it? it's a pun!) several of them in the lead-up to this great weekend of open studios from September 7-9 (artists, if you've already emailed ILFA, look for more correspondence soon, and if you haven't feel free to be in touch).
Even if you're not of the gallery-hopping persuasion, you can still swing by Sue Rock Originals Everyone anytime to get involved in their fantastic work as a volunteer, or just to deck yourself out in some new duds. Check them out!