Operated by Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan, Paperworks Studio is a unique social enterprise that employs individuals with disabilities and disadvantages to create beautiful greeting cards from recycled materials.
Made from unconventional items like blue jeans, wool sweaters,
linens and coffee grounds, the Paperworks Studio collection includes wedding and party invitations, as well as cards for Mother’s Day, Valentine’s Day and — of course — the holiday season.
The company currently employs more than 30 talented artists from the Traverse City, Mich., area — who make and decorate the cards by hand.
For these artists, a job at Paperworks is more than just a paycheck. It also provides purpose, empowerment and vital skills that break down barriers to employment, says Brian Lewis, director of sales and business development for Goodwill Industries of Northern Michigan.
“While they’re working here, it prepares them,” Lewis tells Earth911. “They learn life and work skills that earn them more independence in their lives and even further job opportunities.”
Paperworks Studio’s social enterprise model offers a welcoming work environment, along with skills and training that foster independence and build self-esteem. Each artist has his or her own role in the card-making process, ranging from drawing to making paper.
“It is impossible not to fall in love with them,” Lewis says of the artists. “Despite the fact that you might think that you’re going to give them something and help them, they always give more back to the people who work with them.”
“There’s nothing else like Paperworks Studio in the country,” he continues. “It truly is unique.”