#doDifferent One Stitch at a Time

“Charity begins at home” is a well-known proverb meaning that you should take care of your family and those around you, before helping others that are further away. That’s why this week, we are looking at an initiative that has taken this proverb to heart and is helping their community #doDifferent, one stitch at a time.

The Toy Project is a community-based initiative for previously unemployed women of the Wittedrift community outside Plettenberg Bay. It was started in July 2011, due to response to the high unemployment rate in this area. Renee Leger, a fine arts and interior design graduate, was the creative driving force behind the project, while her husband Paul took care of the less exciting business of finance, marketing and general admin work that every successful business or project needs to run.

The Toy Project helps these ladies build skills and also acts as an employment initiative, as the ladies are paid for each project that they complete. They currently have two dedicated workshops where training and production take place in a convivial and supportive environment.

Apart from acquiring a new skill, most of their members have progressed to the point where they can produce a highly sellable product in the competitive open market - whether it be a cute donkey, rhino, rag doll or teddy. No two are identical - each reflects an individual style and personal expression. 

The products that the Toy Project make are sold mainly at high-end decor shops and tourist outlets, both locally and abroad, as their quirky and authentic toys and other products are 100% handmade, using little more than needle and thread.

The Toy Project represents what can be termed a 'social enterprise': a project with social goals, but driven by business principles. All of the labour and material costs are covered directly by product sales. By demonstrating a workable alternative to the 'charity model' common to most community projects, they hope to inspire other communities to adopt a similar sustainable approach and learn from each other to #doDifferent in their own lives.

So if you are looking for a community initiative to support, why not start with the Toy Project? Whether you choose to purchase one of their lovely, quirky toys or give their Facebook page some love, every little bit helps.

To find out more about the Toy Project, click here.

Images by: Toy Project