Sue Rock Originals Everyone, Inc. is a non-profit organization which creates fashionable handmade garments to support survivors of domestic violence.
Sue Rock, a Brooklyn native, founded this non-profit organization in 2005. Sue shines a bright light in the lives of victims of domestic violence, bringing them joy and healing. Often times, survivors of domestic violence leave their abusive relationships with nothing other than the clothes they are wearing. Sue Rock not only provides handmade garments for them, but also teaches them the craft of the needle and textile arts.
Sue Rock Orginals Everyone, Inc. provides direct support to those in needs and gives hope and empowerment to women who bravely decided to leave behind a horrible situation. We are honored to have Sue Rock give a presentation at Knitty City about the work that she does. Come see Sue Rock speak this coming Thursday, November 16 from 6-8pm.
Q and A with Sue Rock
What crafts do you practice and who taught you?
I think I am well versed in all of the needlearts. My South Carolina maternal grandmother, Rosa Bertie Johnson taught me the basics of crochet. That warmed me to knitting. I had the blessing of receiving my first sewing machine and vintage patterns from my North Carolina paternal aunt Caroline Kemp - a seamstress extraordinaire. These gifts from them gave me license to explore the needlearts freely. Embroidery, Crewelwork and Needlepoint are all deep loves of mine. I have recently expanded on what was a love of punchneedle embroidery in childhood to take a Teacher's Certification training in Punch Needle Rug Hooking in the Oxford style with Amy Oxford. Anything needleart is true to my heart - I think the only thing I haven't tried is maybe tatting? Or maybe needle lace!
When did the idea of Sue Rock Originals Everyone come up and what encouraged you to do this?
In the winter of 2005, I lost a friend due to a domestic violence incident. Shortly thereafter, while embarking on an eco-fashion brand, I learned that there were NO craft charities with a focus on women. I decided to jump in and create a cause where the discarded raw materials of NYC’s garment and interior design industries could be put to good use. Starting with engaging volunteer needle artists, Sue Rock Originals Everyone developed donation relationships with domestic violence residences throughout New York. This grew to connecting with organizations which helped women throughout the country.
We now seek to support domestic violence survivors in the following ways:
Volunteering – We partner volunteers with raw materials to create NEW items for survivors who leave.
Direct donations – We connect with companies based in NY and encourage them to donate samples to survivors which would otherwise be discarded. This model has lead to thousands of survivors living in residences to receive new undergarments they would not have had access to!
POWER GOALS: Domestic Violence Empowerment Program – Our power goal is to inspire and nurture the survivors role in repairing their own life. Through using the abundant raw material resources acquired over the past 12 years by Sue Rock Originals Everyone, survivors would be able to take classes in the needlearts with a focus of apparel or home furnishings. The coursework would be strategic, provide all the materials needed and teach key skills - providing a way for families to replace the items they had left behind. In an initial run of these classes a few years ago, classes grew 50% in months as the word spread that survivors could learn needle arts skills!
Clearly, you are a woman with purpose. What inspires you to be doing what you do?
The joy of limitless possibility. There is a limitless possibility in each person’s innate creativity. There is limitless possibility in the amount of textile materials available. There is also a limitless possibility in the needlearts.
How does craft help people who have suffered from domestic violence, in your opinion?
Well, first there are the NEW beautiful custom made items that are created completely to their own delight. But add to this the studies over the past 15 on the mental and emotional support that the needlearts provide. Post traumatic stress is common with survivors of domestic violence. The needlearts provide respite and bring great rewards. There is another aspect, and that is the power of reintroducing these time honored skills back into the family unit. These people now will be the ones that THEIR grandchildren remember “crocheting blankets” or “sewing that big black sewing machine”. This is an important help as well.
What can we as a community do to help Sue Rock Originals Everyone?
JOIN THE CAUSE – You know how vital these skills are! Your support helps make classes happen, donations get to the residences and ensure the future of this organization. Donations as small as $20 ensure that undergarments get to women running from abuse with just the clothes on their back. Supporting us $50 monthly means that we can provide classes to survivors in-house, at residence. Find out about joining our board and become a part of the strategic team the builds our next design studio – where classes can be held onsite for both survivors AND the community.
Craftspeople are always needed to lend their creativity, insight and direction. We currently have a body of students in need of guidance and mentorship. Also opportunities are growing to teach in the residences – with a focus of practical, worthwhile items.
Contact us and let us know how you would like to support the work being done.
What is the message you want to convey with Sue Rock Originals Everyone?
Sue Rock Originals Everyone – Where can you receive the encouragement and coaching to mine your own creativity and begin to heal again.
Would you consider yourself a craftivist with the work that you do and if so, why?
“Craftivism is a form of activism, typically incorporating elements of anti-capitalism, environmentalism, solidarity, or third-wave feminism, that is centered on practices of craft - or what can traditionally be referred to as "domestic arts". Craftivism includes, but is not limited to, various forms of needlework including yarn-bombing or cross-stitch. Craftivism is a social process of collective empowerment, action, expression and negotiation. In craftivism, engaging in the social, performative and critical discourse around the work is central to its production and dissemination. Practitioners are known as craftivists.
So...that is the Wikipedia description of craftivism. As I started this work in 2005 – I am in a bit of a conflict with the word “craftivism” as it applies to the work of Sue Rock Originals Everyone. Others may, because of the populations of people we support and the use of the needlearts identify it as “craftivism” and that is great. However, I think at the end of the day, the focus of Sue Rock Originals Everyone is to empower people with their own creativity and historical lineage of the needlearts – and also to use these tools as point of deep healing and self discovery.
Interested in helping Sue Rock Originals Everyone?
Donations are accepted via Paypal at suerockoriginals (at) yahoo.com
Further info – contact us at suerockoriginals (at) yahoo.com