Group spearheads self-employment initiative

Wednesday's Christmas Marketplace at the Garth Homer Centre offers boutique goods

Marci Watson

Finding a unique feature to make her hand-knit scarves stand out has been the trickiest part of the process so far for Charlotte Evans.

Next Wednesday (Nov. 25), Evans will be one of 15 local vendors selling their wares at the Garth Homer Centre Christmas Marketplace, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Dec. 2 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Student Union Building at the University of Victoria.

Evans, an Oak Bay resident, calls it a hobby but her infinity scarves, which fasten together at the neck with stylish oversized buttons, or dangle a 19th century skeleton key, are sure to catch on.

“I’m also trying to figure out a collar scarf, and if I can, I’d like to do ponchos and blankets, but they might be pricier than people would realize,” Evans said.

Evans is one of the four entrepreneurs (she prefers hobbyist) spearheading a new Garth Homer micro-enterprising initiative along with Pat Andrews, Marci Watson and Gen Chandler.

“One of the [Garth Homer] clients told me it’s exciting to be known for making something in the community and not for being someone with a disability,” said Garth Homer self-employment coach Wendy Schulz.

Pat Andrews’ business, Woven Rattan Revival, repairs rattan weave furniture, something he’s done since 1988.

It’s a perfect example of the model Schulz hopes that all clients can follow, to whatever extent they want.

For Andrews, most of the furniture he repairs is antique, as he’s one of a very few practising the dying art, he said.

“Business was always good until I took time off to care for an ill friend a few years ago,” said Andrews, who works out of a downtown shop. “Now it’s a matter of building my business back up.”

At the moment, Andrews subcontracts to a furniture shop in town and has steady business. His website is http://patandrews.wix.com/wovenrattanrevival.

Like Andrews, Gen Chandler has been drawing since she can remember and yet the highly skilled illustrator hasn’t taken an art class since high school.

Virtually self taught, her elaborate illustrations jump off the holiday cards she’s been selling at craft fairs for years. Her artwork also brings together the book The Lost Puzzle Piece, which she did with author Jenn Ferris, an Oak Bay High education assistant who once worked with Chandler.

But not all of the foursome came up with ideas off the bat.

Marci Watson was encouraged to find a crafting hobby that could produce something to sell. But Watson, who leads a busy life with part-time work, found herself unsure where to look, until she realized it was under her nose.

Watson can spend hours assembling jigsaw puzzles, something that started off as a relaxing hobby. Now it’s work, technically, as she has learned to bind the finished product to a foam core, perfect for place mats and coasters.

“It’s a good way to use the puzzles, some are quite large, so they can easily make a whole set,” Watson said.

All of the products by Andrews, Chandler, Evans and Watson are available for order by emailing seprojects@garthhomersociety.org or calling 250-475-2270.