Love Welcomes is a creative social enterprise that helps refugee women begin to stitch their lives back together.
We reclaim the life vests and blankets worn by frightened, exhausted refugees as they wash up on European shores. Our team of refugee women then transform them into beautiful, handmade welcome mats (and more) that we sell all over the world. We think big and change one life at a time.
When you watch the news nowadays, it’s easy to feel helpless. But we passionately believe that love is the greatest force for change in the world, and we’ve never been in more need of it than we are right now.
Proceeds from each sale go directly to the women who wove it; women like Thaura. All profits are used to support refugees including language lessons, computer training, and transportation to things like lawyer meetings or going to the market to buy food. Our aim is to empower refugees to support themselves and their families through employable skills, providing them with dignity and the ability to positively contribute to society.
"When you buy a product from Love Welcomes, you’re not only providing a refugee with a sense of purpose and dignity, you’re also supporting a family in their time of greatest need. Our goal is to raise awareness of the irreplaceable value of a loving welcome; something that everyone needs, especially those looking for a home."
Launched in 2017 Love Welcomes was created in response to the refugee crisis in Greece. The idea was for women living in refugee camps to weave welcome mats from life vests as a way to generate income for themselves.
Frannie Kieschnick had been on Lesvos at the height of the crisis and spoke about her experience of assisting newly arrived refugees to the community of Thistle Farms in Nashville and a few weeks later Becca Stevens (Founder of Thistle Farms) developed the idea of weaving life vests into fabric welcome mats.
A small team travelled to Greece in 2017 to teach a group of women how to weave the welcome mats and Love Welcomes began. The women of the camp, Becca Stevens, Frannie Kieschnick and Abi Hewitt are all Co-Founders of LoveWelcomes, it was a truly collaborative effort.
Love Welcomes' team of refugee women transform life vests & blanket material into beautiful, handmade products that are sold all over the world. Each purchase is more than a beautiful product, it is an investment in refugee women, their families and their community.
Your purchase creates jobs, which create resources, independence and confidence for refugee women. By investing in women, you are investing in families and you are investing in the refugee community – meaning access to vital services.
These women have been through gruelling journeys seeking out a safer future. According to diaNEOsis, nine out of ten migrants to Greece are ‘escaping violence’. Their personal story is hand sewn into every product.
Your purchase supports refugee women to re-discover their self-worth, bringing them dignity and hope in a time of great despair – and the results are already being seen across the camp.
Love Welcomes impact in numbers:
- 42 women currently have jobs, enabling them to support themselves and their families.
- 74 women in total have been employed since the beginning of the project.
- 32 former Love Welcomes weavers have been permanently relocated across Europe with employable weaving and sewing skills.
- 17,000 seats on buses to Athens have been provided to the whole community. This means the community has had access to key services including lawyers, food markets, dentists and important supplies.
- 12 new micro businesses have begun in the camp as a result of having access to markets and supplies.
Love Welcomes knows that community development begins with the employment of women. That is why in addition to over 6,000 mats already created for sale:
- 42 women have received additional training for new products
- 6 more products have been added
- 5 new products in the coming months
This is just the beginning.
We can’t stop the refugee crisis that has forced millions of men, women and children to flee their homes out of fear for their lives. But we’re not helpless either. We can help some of those who arrive in Greece to weave a better future for themselves and their families – futures full of hope and purpose.
So each time you buy something from Love Welcomes, you’re supporting a refugee and her family as they begin to rebuild lives shattered by war, one stitch at a time.