How We Got Started
PeaceQuilts got its start when our founder Jeanne Staples, a professional fine artist, first saw the beautifully embroidered tablecloths being made by women in Haiti, but learned that it was difficult for them to find a ready market to sell them. It occurred to her that art quilts might be a way for the women to transfer their sewing skills to something that would not only be more marketable, but would provide the women a means of creative self-expression. In 2006, with some basic quilting supplies and a few other volunteers, she traveled to Haiti for the first time to see if Haitian women might be inspired by this art form previously unknown to them. The women embraced it right away!
Soon she was joined by master quilter, Maureen Matthews McClintock, who taught them quilting skills and techniques, and helped them to set up an organized, professional workspace. Other volunteers joined the ranks assisting them in developing independent artisan businesses. Now there are four sewing cooperatives, owned and self-managed by the members, creating one-of-a-kind original art quilts, as well as a beautiful and stylish line of artisan-made, hand stitched bags, home decorating products and jewelry.
The women of the PeaceQuilts' consortium are building their own small businesses with help from the PeaceQuilts non-profit organization. It provides support to set up workspaces with sewing machines, worktables, furnishings, sewing equipment and supplies; trains members to develop business skills, computer literacy, inventory controls, and other critical skills; mentors them in design and fashion trends, as well as provides assistance with marketing, logistics and technical support.
Just a job? Far from it! A safe, supportive work environment. A living wage. A chance to express your creativity and explore new talents. In some places, like Haiti, it is all too rare - especially for women. But with a job, one woman can do so much: feed and shelter her parents, siblings, uncles and aunts, send her children to school, and be a powerful agent for community development.