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Twin Cities organization threads together life skills and financial literacy through sewing

In Communities that KARE, Minneapolis-based Lovely's Sewing and Arts Collective teaches life skills that have fallen out of fashion in schools and many homes.

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — Keiona Cook radiates joy, especially when she shows off her students' crafts. Cook is the founder of Lovely's Sewing Arts Collective, a space where sewing is threaded together with other essential life skills. "The kids come in, they create, we teach them about financial literacy and money management," explained Cook. 

Cook's passion for sewing runs deep, first learning the skills from her mother at 6 years old. But in 2010, she realized that the art - usually passed down the generations - somehow stalled. "Home economics had sewing, cooking, the whole nine yards, [and it] had been taken out of the public schools in the late 1980s," Cook recalled. "So I said, 'How can I fill a void in a community and give back and help the next generation of kids be better off than the generation that I was in?'"

Now, kids 6 to 16 can harness their creativity in a medium that's about so much more than crafting and fashion. "What I love about the art of sewing is it teaches you patience and focus, and you're also creating something magical," said Cook. 

Sewing is also desperately needed, like what the world experienced in 2019 and 2020. "I feel like during Covid when the world shut down, and we needed masks, my organization created over 3,000 masks during that time," said Cook. 

Students today have shifted away from masks to pillows, ornaments, and keepsakes that you connect with. "If you love superheroes, we got you. If you love owls, we got you," enthused Cook.

Best of all, many of these creations go on sale at pop-up shops. They cost anywhere from $15 to $50. 

Proceeds go towards the students' savings, partial scholarships, and to keep the Collective going. "It's definitely uplifting because when you see someone go from start to progress to finish. It's the end result that really gets it for me every single time," said Cook.

In addition to sewing and financial literacy, Lovely's Sewing and Arts Collective focuses on health and wellness. Classes often do yoga to center themselves. 

Cook will soon host pop-up sewing parties. Also, in mid-January, there will be monthly adult classes. To learn more about the different programs, visit Lovely's website here.

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