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Utah businesswoman reaches out to refugees through quilting

Posted at 6:38 PM, Apr 14, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY – Local business woman Emily Taylor wants to empower refugees by teaching them how to quilt so they can earn a living and provide for their family, and she’s starting a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to set her plan in motion.

Taylor runs the website Shopstitched.com, where people can create a customized quilt. Orders are filled at her Salt Lake facility, where refugees will make the quilt.

“I know that they're a very vulnerable population," Taylor said. "I understand that the things they need most are education and good employment."

So far, Taylor has hired one refugee, Esperance Rugomwa. She resettled in Utah 14 years ago from Rwanda.

“Sewing has always been my favorite activity,” Rugomwa said.

Esperance is sharpening her skills and learning how to use a heavy-duty sewing machine. The job gives her the flexibility to attend Salt Lake Community College.

“After learning this new skill, I'll be able to help my family," she said.

Taylor wants to provide this type of comfort to all refugees, so she is starting a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to raise $75,000.

“That will enable us to hire more refugees as quilters and also expand our machinery requirements," she said.

While her efforts may offer some security to refugees, some critics aren’t warming up to the idea.

“There are people out there that are, frankly, hateful people that have questioned my motivation for hiring refugees over other Americans and veterans,” Taylor said. “I'm a small business owner just trying to do good for my community.”

For more information about the Kickstarter campaign, click here.