Weaving Bonds is a brand new collaboration in Worcester between Dar Ku, a local refugee artisan from Burma, Refugee Artisans of Worcester (RAW ), Yuta Tokunaga, a business student at Becker College, and Mihoko Wakabayashi, artist and founder of SAORI Worcester Weaving Studio.
Initially, Yuta’s social business course at Becker College, which has established the first officially sanctioned Yunus Social Business Center in the United States, led Yuta to bringing the idea to Mihoko for his class project. The project, Let’s Grow Worcester, aims to connect refugees and local businesses to contribute to the growth of Worcester’s community.
After many hours of discussion, Mihoko, Yuta, and Dar Ku decided to establish a brand that features Dar Ku’s woven fabric, through a technique known as backstrap weaving, to which Mihoko has added her designs. This combines a new look with Asian styles. They are creating bags, pouches, applique on t-shirts and sweatshirts. Yuta continues to work on promotions and customer communications.
Workshops in the making
The most unique part of this project is that customers are invited to take part in a workshop to be conducted by Darku, Mihoko, and Yuta. In this workshop, participants will learn how the products are made and try weaving both on a SAORI® loom and backstrap weaving. The workshop will begin in Fall 2017.
Weaving Bonds is a distinctive collaboration with the potential to include more local refugee artisans who can bring innovative designs and ideas to new products, and to becoming a business platform for incoming refugees arriving in Worcester.
Text written by Yuta Tokunaga, July 2017