Ellie Cooke joined Handmade Alliance earlier this year, where she manages production in our London textiles workshop as well as develops and facilitates training programmes in and outside of prisons.
What drew you to Handmade Alliance?
In India I was fascinated by what business can look like in community – particularly how business can be used to tackle social issues and shape communities for the better. By helping communities build their own businesses and empowering them to make the changes, you can create a much more sustainable impact. This is a core belief of Handmade Alliance… and the role sounded fantastic! I knew that it would be very people facing in an area I have a lot of experience in (textiles and social enterprise) but would also give me hands-on exposure to criminal justice and rehabilitation.
What does your typical day involve?
I lead all production and training. This morning, I have been liaising with various clients and working with them on their designs. After a quick sandwich, I spent time working with a designer and the machinists on how to make these products. One of the great advantages of having offering textile manufacturing services in Britain is that the designers can talk directly with the machinists. As it is the machinists who are turning the designers ideas and textiles into products there is not a better way to ensure really high-quality production. Later this afternoon I have scheduled a quick talk with one of the machinists to discuss their development goals as, by nature, we are very focused on training and development of our staff.
What have you enjoyed most since starting?
The variety of work, both in terms of clients and products, makes the work really interesting. My absolute favourite thing, however, is working with the machinists that we have in at the moment. Although it can be challenging, it is really positive work. The best thing about Handmade Alliance is that they empower people to make choices and changes themselves. Our trainees are supported to develop individually and as a team, working on their social and employability skills alongside manufacturing. I really enjoy working with people, being creative and using my creativity in this area – it is always a challenge but a really rewarding one.
Handmade Alliance in one word?