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New Triangle Impact Tote part of project to help local vulnerable women earn wage, learn skills

Posted February 28, 2021 9:00 p.m. EST

Credit: Jenelle Botts Photography

Designed For Joy launched back in 2017 as a way to help vulnerable women make a better life for themselves and their families.

The nonprofit sells hand-crafted items that are made by women in the program, who earn a transitional living wage and learn new skills that they can take into the workforce.

Two local moms, Cary Heise and Kristen Sydow, co-founded the nonprofit. Heise is the executive director and Sydow is the creative director.

We've featured Designed For Joy on Go Ask Mom before, but as it starts a new venture with two other local nonprofits, we checked back in with Heise to learn what she's been up to and about the new Triangle Impact Tote.

Cary Heise, co-founder of Designed For Joy

Go Ask Mom: You launched Designed For Joy several years ago. Give us a quick update on what's been happening these last many years. You've been busy!

Cary Heise: We are busy in all the best ways. As a reminder, Designed For Joy is a transitional work experience for women coming from tough situations such as trafficking survivors and homelessness. Even with the difficulties of 2020, our community’s support enabled us to keep hiring, increase payroll, and start a day-work program. Things are going so well, we are already looking for bigger studio space, our third, to keep up with demands of production and the need for safe work for women in Raleigh.

GAM: You recently announced a new partnership with The Scrap Exchange and the Women's Center. Tell us about your new venture.

CH: Our Triangle Impact Tote is such an exciting partnership. Through this project and partnership we can offer a safe place for homeless women to work without the commitment of regular work for immediate pay. We provide day work, a meal, encouragement, and living wages paid that day. This is an amazing way to serve women with mental health issues and those in emergency situations.

The Scrap Exchange in Durham allows us to pull new materials destined for the landfill and create a sustainable product. The Women’s Center refers women to us who need safe work who cannot commit to regular work.

Volunteers from the NC Museum of Art and Creative Business Interiors NC have come in and helped prep for the work days.

Designed For Joy

GAM: This is more than just a tote. There's some symbolism in how it's designed and made. What's it all about?

CH: The triangle pattern and the three leather triangles on the back represent the partnership between the three Triangle area nonprofits.

GAM: You hope these totes become a talking point. How?

CH: Each bag is unique. The bold triangle shape is made up with bright colors, and interesting patterns, and different textures. Your friends are sure to notice and this gives everyone an opportunity to tell about the good work all three of our nonprofits are doing!

GAM: Where can people purchase them?

CH: Bags can only be purchased at the Designed For Joy studio or on our website.

The studio is at 2409-117 Crabtree Blvd., Raleigh, off Capital Boulevard in Gateway Plaza. Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Thursday through Saturday.

Go Ask Mom features local moms every Monday.