When AnnSew Tailoring was going to close for retirement reasons, it opened some doors for Wachiay Friendship Centre.
The centre now runs the space on Sixth Street, which still has tailoring work happening in the back, but there is now a store space at the front of the AnnSew location.
“The previous owner actually gave it to Wachiay,” says Wachiay Friendship Centre downtown manager Jennifer Corbett.
There, they sell a range of arts and crafts, and all the proceeds from both the tailoring and store-front businesses go to support the programming at the Wachiay Friendship Centre. ‘Tally,’ the shop dog, might even pop out for a visit.
The new set-up opened its doors on Dec. 20. Inside, there are clothes, handbags, artwork, even artisanal tea produced by Wachiay. On the walls hang colourful clocks and mandalas produced out of old LP records.
“There’s just a million different things,” Corbett says. “There’s much more coming in. We’re still waiting for quite a few prints from artists and photographers to get on the wall.”
A number of artists are working in conjunction with Wachiay. Jonah Hill has done screening printing at the studio at Wachiay since 2018. As far as his own work, he does things such as colour merges on shirts, but he also helps with programs at the centre. For example, he did an Art to Start program working with youth to learn about screen printing, going over the studio and what is involved with starting your own screen printing business.
“That’s an introductory course where we kind of just give them a rundown,” he says.
Paloma Joy is an artist who produces jewelry and clothing out of post-consumer materials. She hasn’t worked directly with Wachiay but was interested in the work they have been doing, and when they put a call-out for designers, she responded.
“You see how it kind of ties in…. There’s more to it than just creating clothing,” she says.
As an artist, she also does a lot of drawing and other artwork, so she is already into colour therapy and healing, which fits in with the work at Wachiay. For example, she has put together a hand-drawn colouring book for people not just to colour in the lines but for creative expression.
The clothing, artwork, handicrafts and other items are what bring in proceeds, and again, all of it supports programming at the centre. Tim Gagnon works with children and youth groups with skills ranging from outdoor survival to learning how to put together a resume. He’s also made dream catchers that are available at the new store.
He works with different ages. The Eagles are the older youth working on mentoring, with the Bears behind them, while the Hummingbirds are the youngest. With the Hummingbirds, for example, he’s having them do a challenge for the kids to make their crest on their own Big House. Of late, he’s also worked with kids on putting together food boxes and prepping fire-starters.
“It’s different life skills,” he says.