BLOG*May 5, 2011

Amy Turk

*MINI ART EMPIRES IN THE ROUGH*

“Daybreak Designs is an innovative grassroots business venture for women in transition. The women achieve economic self-sufficiency by actively participating in the design, development, and maintenance of a small arts and crafts business.”
-Amy Turk

My friend and graphic designer Terese Harris asked if I would give a presentation at Daybreak, a program within OPCC, which is a network of shelters, and services for low-income and homeless individuals, and people living with mental illness.

I was introduced to Amy Turk the Director of Daybreak. She oversees a continuum of services at Daybreak including a drop-in center, two shelters, a supportive day program, permanent supportive housing programs, and a member-run arts and crafts business called Daybreak Designs. After my presentation I saw some of the arts, and handicraft created by the women who were helped by Daybreak. It became clear we had another group of mini art empires in the rough! Here are interviews with Amy, and three of the artists.

Greg: Tell me more about the store you have set up to sell the women’s creations.

Amy: Daybreak Designs is an innovative grassroots business venture for women in transition. The women achieve economic self-sufficiency by actively participating in the design, development and maintenance of a small arts and crafts business. The artists and craftswomen are overcoming and managing the dual challenges of homelessness and mental illness. The business started over ten years ago when a volunteer taught some members a particular way of making greeting cards and jewelry. We then realized a wealth of artistic talent among Daybreak members and opened up our building for community sales. The majority of the proceeds return directly to the hands of the creators and the remainder helps the business move forward. We now have a permanent store located in our new building, four open-house sales a year, and travel to art fairs and to various community events.

*Annual Spring Sale, May 6th and 7th! Go support these women!!

To continue the growth of our business, we are gearing up for our online presence on OPCC’s website and we will gladly partner with events throughout Los Angeles to sell our items.

Pamela

Greg: What are some of the successes you have seen so far with women selling their work?

Amy: A number of members have been able to incubate their business at Daybreak Designs and then be able to go out on their own. One in particular has her own website and sells her items privately. Most of the members spend the majority of their monthly benefits on housing costs. The added income from Daybreak Designs helps supplement limited incomes and helps the women enjoy life more on their own terms. Many of the members never believed that anyone would appreciate their work; therefore, the business helps increase self esteem and determination.


Pamela, Linda, and Dasha are women who arrived at Daybreak with different stories, but are now ardent entrepreneurs creating and selling their art.

Pamela- I developed my mental illness during the 80’s while on an overseas program in Germany.  I came to Daybreak with a reference and stayed approximately one year. I am a student, taking art, dancing and other subjects that help with self-esteem.  My present focus is helping children and adults in that area.  I am writing with the intention of creating books, centered on self-esteem also included is the teaching of languages.

I recently, within the past few years, have taken jewelry making, etching, painting, ceramic…classes, widening my artistic perception.  I now silversmith, bead…creating wonderful pieces of art.  I love to nurture this side of my brain, as I have been more of an intellect.

Linda

Linda Abbott: I lived with depression for forty years, and ended up living on the streets in Santa Monica.  After being hospitalized for my depression I was referred to Daybreak Shelter, became involved in Daybreak WIND (Women in New Directions) program, from there I became a Daybreak Designs artist/ member.  Daybreak has been a crucial part in helping stabilize and through the program I have obtained permanent housing and continue to live in my apartment.

Since moving into my apartment I became more involved in Daybreak Designs, serving as secretary even President of Daybreak Designs.

Greg: Tell us about the process behind your creations?

Pamela: My designs are inspired from images in/from my mind.  I put my supplies in front of me and give birth. I love handmade items that show originality, taste and personality.  It rarely takes more than a day or two to finish a project.  I pour silver, make templates, bead… I create with the intention of my customers enjoying my artistic expression. I want images of myself dangling from the human body.

Linda: My real passion in life is caring for orphan kittens and placing them with loving families.  My creativity has always been a part of me through crocheting.  I started creating gems trees in 1994. In making the gem trees I usually have a general idea of what they will look like, however the tree tends to develop and grow on their own.  I use craft wire and semi precious gem stones.

When depressed I see everything as ‘UGLY and HOPELESS,” the tree reminds me of God’s unconditional love and all the beauty we can find within each of us. All we need to do is look for it!

Dasha: I use the computer, camera – for multimedia; amber, leather, etc. – for jewelry; acrylics- painting.
Her website.

Greg: Who has supported your vision so far by purchasing your work?

Pamela: My customers are a product of Daybreak Designs.

Dasha: I don’t know them.

Linda: I created my crafts for pleasure and to give as gifts to family and friends. It took Daybreak, and my healing process to believe that people generally liked them and it was something they would want to buy. People tell me how much they enjoy the items and this builds my self esteem and makes me feel worthy.

Greg: What is one of your dreams for the future?

Linda: My dreams for the future ~ have loving homes for all the homeless kittens, and to be self supportive.

Pamela: A dream is to be a designer of authentic outstanding jewelry, selling to please my customers, they are always right.  I would prefer a large scope, ranging from young to old, rich to poor, serving all magnitudes.

Dasha: Helping as many people as possible to start celebrating their lives.

Greg: Amy, any final words?

Amy: OPCC is in the business of saving lives. We have been providing extensive services on the Westside of Los Angeles for nearly 50 years. We pride ourselves in doing the hard work to create better policy and to end atrocities like homelessness. We do this one individual at a time and we see deep and lasting positive changes in this way. We also do this on a political level so that oppressed individuals are not overlooked for lack of money, for lack of a home, or because of a disability.

Thank you Amy, Pamela, Linda, and Dasha! You are truly inspirations of the heart and a reminders that there is a beautiful potential in each of us.

To your empowerment and prosperity,

Greg