PUBLISHED: | UPDATED:

CHICO >> With the opening of its first retail outlet and website on Oct. 1, the Work Training Center is bringing hand-crafted wood, textile and ceramic products, made by its developmentally disabled adult clients, to the public.

In January the Work Training Center purchased Chico All Fired Up!, a downtown ceramics studio and gallery, adding a ninth business, Created4ACause, to its line-up of training and production occupational programs.

“The Work Training Center is known by the public mostly for its recycling business but a lot of what our clients do including woodworking, textiles and now, ceramics is invisible,” said Mary Gardner, studio business manager. “The studio and website give us the chance to bring all these wonderful products together in one place for the public.”

In addition to its new line of ceramics, Created4ACause retail offerings include wood products like presentation wine boxes, pine crates, trays and condiment totes, made at the Feather River Industries wood shop in Oroville. Fabric and vinyl totes and luggage, as well as aprons, made at Deer Creek Sewing in Chico, are also for sale.

Don Krysakowski, the center”s executive director, said they saw an “opportunity” and took it. As the negotiations for the studio purchase were underway, the center began developing a business plan for a retail store and online business.

“We realized what a fabulous storefront we had at All Fired Up! It has a retail space with big windows facing the street and it”s in a growing area of downtown south of the post office. We”ve done good wholesale business for years and saw this as the way to reach out to the retail market,” said Krysakowski.

While the studio continues to offer ceramic parties, a service it is known for, center clients are creating finished ceramic products in the studio for public sale through Created4ACause. Chico All Fired Up! has successfully transitioned from a for-profit to a nonprofit business. The money generated through sales goes back into the program.

“The mission of Work Training Center is to provide an accommodation for anyone who wants to work. When the work is broken into manageable steps, our clients are able to take part in the manufacturing of our wood, fabric or ceramics products,” said Krysakowski.

Gardner and two staff artists, Carob Bradlyn and Jacob Troester, work with a crew of eight clients to build their skill sets related to ceramics, production and retail skills including sales and customer service.

Created4ACause ceramics” crew began training in April. None had any ceramics or production experience. Under the guidance of staff artists the crew has not only mastered ceramic techniques but has produced several product lines including home d?cor, garden planters, coasters imprinted with ginkgo biloba and oak leaves, and garden totems.

The totems are “a tribute to the nut industry,” said Gardner. The base for each is a large ceramic almond or walnuts which are built upon with spacers that look like bark, and ceramic birds, bees, dragon flies, poppies, leaves and acorns. Customers may choose their own totem pieces to build a custom piece to suit their taste.

“We developed patterns for our products for mass production. The crew has developed a feel for the craft so even using the patterns, each ceramicist is different so their personal creative imprint is on every product making each truly hand crafted even though we”re making everything on a production level,” said Gardner.

Created4ACause”s signature ceramic products are the Blessing Birds. The pattern for the birds was created by Chico All Fired Up! former owner, Janice Hofmann who gave the pattern to the Work Training Center.

“The blessing birds have a small hole where their heart is. The idea is to put a personal message or blessing in the hole for the person you are giving them to. We also make mini blessing birds with jewels that may be used in many ways, including gift charms and zipper pulls. They are very sweet and their whole mission is healing, best wishes and blessings,” said Gardner.

A couple of weeks before Created4ACause”s opening, Gardner said the crew”s skill level and excitement had grown.

“I”ve watched the crew go from no ceramic skills to rudimentary skills to being able to create entire products start to finish beautifully. I could just feel the joy in the production room among the crew of being creative and productive. They all knew we were about to launch the business and they were all excited,” said Gardner.

With the gift-giving season right around the corner, Created4ACause”s opening couldn”t be timelier. Purchases may be made in store or online and shipped directly the same day as ordered.

“We believe this new venture is a win-win. The people of Chico get to shop for neat and interesting hand-crafted products and our developmentally disabled clients reap the benefits. We”re hoping the business goes great guns and that we can add even more products,” said Krysakowski.

Chico All Fired Up! & Created4ACause

830 Broadway. Chico

894-5227

www.created4acause.com

blog comments powered by Disqus