Simple Design Share
A sewing collaborative for women who are homeless… a simple idea of epic proportions.
Tahira Wilson-Guillermo’s vision of Simple Design Share, a sewing collaborative to help empower women who are homeless or in need, is coming to life thanks to the Kip Tiernan Social Justice Fellowship Award, an award which is granted by Rosie’s Place. Simple Design Share will focus on teaching women to sew projects that are hand-made by women from all walks of life. The women will be provided with simple tools that will enable them to make creations wherever they may be staying. The goal is to empower women and to create opportunities for women to support each other.
Tahira Wilson-Guillermo, a Literacy and Diversity specialist at the Shady Hill School in Cambridge, has always used her creativity to help and teach others. Tahira first shared her vision of this women’s collaborative in the Kip Tiernan fellowship proposal and then with Fred Smith, Director of Program Development, Research and Evaluation at St. Francis House. Fred Smith enthusiastically encouraged Tahira to pursue her dream and to develop a business plan. Rosie’s Place gave financial support through the fellowship and their Kip Tiernan Fellowship Committee will continue to provide financial and business support throughout this Fellowship year.
Three generations of strong women
Brandon Guillermo of Diverse Elements
Many other local organizations stepped forward to help put the pieces of the puzzle together. On The Rise, St. Francis House, Brookview House, St Mary’s and Stitch House offered their facilities to hold sewing workshops. Last March, Harvard Professor Jacqueline Rivers coordinated women from her church fellowship for a Simple Design Share pilot workshop that Tahira hosted at her home. The suggestions and observations learned from that pilot provided impressive pictures and feedback for Tahira’s final proposal. Shady Hill School of Cambridge will connect children with Simple Design Share in community service projects.
Pat Gorham helps Tahira with last minute set up for the reception
Tahira’s husband, Brandon Guillermo, of Diverse Elements, an online marketing and consulting group, assisted with consultation and support through out the process while Tahira’s daughter, Brittany assisted with the graphic design of the logo. Brittany also inspires product development ideas with Tahira, among other things. Savorii, an online shop that supports local artisans, assisted with creative consultation and donations of remnant fabrics and sewing machines. Savorii also subcontracted with Simple Design Share to make their Rag Bangles and has plans on selling Simple Design Share products on the Savorii website as soon as Tahira’s seamstresses are ready to roll.
Brittany, Tahira's daughter, models Savorii Rag Bangles and the Boston Tee Scarf
Tahira already has several simple stylish fashions in the works. Interns from Newbury School of Fashion Design have been invited to assist women at the workshops. In addition, Simple Design Share will train workshop assistants and offer a stipend to interested women participants who learn skills quickly and exhibit commitment.
Simple Design Share is a great example of what one passionate woman can do with the support of a community. Tahira held an appreciation dinner on Thursday, August 25th in the Moving Ahead (MAP) Suite at St. Francis House and paid a special thanks to her mother, who was her inspiration and the woman who first taught her to sew. Stay tuned for more details on products created by Simple Design Share.
Fred Smith, Director of Development at
St. Francis House has been helping
the homeless for 15 years.
A dress and shawl designed by Tahira