For the past three years, Rhonda and Yasmin have shared a close and special bond at The Sewing Basket. The pair work together every Monday and Friday at the Newington shop, sorting and pricing all the craft items such as beads, buttons and knitting needles to go display.
Miss Rhonda, as she is affectionately known by Yasmin, says that it took time to establish a bond, but now they are very close. “Yasmin didn’t talk to anyone when she first started working here, not even to me,” explains Rhonda. “Now she chats to everyone and her confidence has grown tremendously.”
Working at The Sewing Basket has been a way for Yasmin to not only improve her communication skills, but she is also learning work-based skills in a busy retail environment. Yasmin says she also really likes having morning tea with the team at The Sewing Basket and working together with Rhonda. “I like helping Miss Rhonda,” she says. “I’ve learnt how to package things, to put the stickers on and find where things go in the shop.”
Rhonda, an avid craft enthusiast who likes knitting and patchwork, says she has volunteered at The Sewing Basket for five years but has known about the shop for many years before this. “I used to shop at Crowle Home and everyone was so nice, so I always wanted to come and volunteer here,” she recalls. “I enjoy meeting all the customers because everyone has the same interests.”
What makes The Sewing Basket special, says Rhonda, is the skilled team of volunteers and staff who are always available to help customers find just what they need in store. “Many shops today are cutting down on customer service, but that’s the number one thing we offer at The Sewing Basket which makes us different.”
Another part of the attraction for our customers is that The Sewing Basket truly is place for everyone in the community, providing supported employment for people with disability, offering local volunteering opportunities for enthusiasts, and through the sustainable sale of donated fabrics and materials.
These unique features, along with the rise of more environmentally conscious shoppers, has seen the growth of The Sewing Basket in recent times. Most recently this has seen a new pop-up shop open in Balmain in Sydney’s Inner West earlier this year.
Achieve Australia’s new Manager of The Sewing Basket, David Rafferty, says that even further growth is on the horizon.
“There are many customers who want to see us expand to other areas and we know there’s a need in the regions for employment opportunities for people with disability and shops like The Sewing Basket,” he says. “We hope there will be even more shops in the future as we continue to expand.”
For Rhonda and Yasmin, they will continue working together at Newington, so be sure to say hello if you are in store or ask for some expert advice for your latest project.
To find out more about The Sewing Basket, visit thesewingbasket.com.au where you can also subscribe to our monthly email newsletter, A Good Yarn, to keep up to date with the latest announcements, sales and stories from our shops.