A Shrewsbury-based company is helping women get back to work with completely flexible working hours. Calluna Upcyling has just recruited eight seamstresses who can work as much as they want, when they want.
There are many reasons why people find themselves out of work or unable to accept full-time or part-time schedules – mainly because employers can’t (or won’t) offer flexible working.
People who need flexible working are not just parents trying to solve childcare issues, there are other reasons such as working with an illness – physical and/or mental, working while being a caregiver, returning to work after trauma perhaps a miscarriage or mental breakdown, struggling with menopause or fleeing domestic violence.
Calluna Upcycling was started by Heather Crowe during the Covid-19 pandemic. He salvages fabrics from the events industry that would otherwise have gone to landfill and transforms them into new products such as tote bags and handbags. Fabrics include COP26 stage wraps and Shrewsbury town center flags and pedestrian barriers. 10% of all profits are donated to Severn Hospice, registered charity number 512394.
Tailors head to the Calluna Hub in Battlefield to pick up everything they need to create products, get training, support, or just a cup of tea. From the fabric to the threads, including the loan of sewing machines, everything is provided. With no minimum requirement, the seamstresses then return to the hub when it suits them with a batch of made-up products.
Calluna Upcycling has carefully monitored the average time it takes seamstresses to make each product to ensure they are paid a living wage.
A seamstress said: ‘At the time I had been laid off from my career, after returning from maternity leave, I was also leaving my abusive relationship with a newborn baby. With no support network and a pandemic lockdown, my confidence hit rock bottom with my purpose in life. Calluna gave me a goal again. It boosted my confidence in my abilities and as a person. The Calluna family inspires me and is part of my health, childcare and life in general. I found the motivation, the creativity and a purpose just for me, to create and produce products that people will use and cherish.
Upcycling manager Yvonne Beach said: “It’s been amazing to see how all of our sewers have grown in character since we first met them and to see them all making friends as well. They don’t just arrive with products anymore, they arrive full of energy and ideas and we love to see them involved in shaping the product line and the future of the company. Heather Crowe, the company’s founder, should be incredibly proud of the mission she started and the number of other women she’s helped – and she started it all while she too was struggling, she’s a real inspiration.