A Day in the Life of a TGR Artisan

This week I was able to interview our lovely TGR Production Supervisor.  She takes us through a day of paper making and vocational development at TGR and shares her thoughts about how this process has helped change her life and can impact others! 

What is your role at TGR?
I am Production Supervisor. 

 What time do you work every day?
I work Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 4:00pm.

 What do you do when you first get here to prepare for the day?
I take about 15 minutes to read my emails and to mentally prepare myself for the day.  I go over my tasks and what I have to do for that day. 

 Take us through the morning work process.
Between 9:20 and 10:00 I set up the stations so when the girls get in by 10 everything will be set up.  I also make pulp for the production day which starts roughly at 10.  I make sure everything is set up and working.  At 10, we actually start making paper.  I try to rotate the girls to different stations of production so that they know how to do everything in the process.  12-12:30 we have lunch. 

Do you have set goals or quotas for each day?  
On average we should have at least 100 sheets of paper made – 20 sheets per hour. 

What projects are you working on right now?
We’re working on things for one of our events – invitations & thank you cards.  Now we’re working on Christmas items – tags and cards; and paper for Stitched classes.  We have a private Stitched class on Monday. 

As supervisor, how do you interact with the other women working at TGR? 
I motivate them and encourage them, and I also am their friend.  I try not to be too hard on them because I know people have been hard on them their whole life.  I talk out problems with them.  I’m their friend more than anything.  I’m the team leader because I know the process and how to handle everything, but I do the work with them and try to go above and beyond to show them we’re doing this together.

What do you do for lunch?
Leroy provides lunch for us.  On Thursdays, we have Lunch & Learn. 

What does the vocational development piece of TGR look like?  What do you do on a typical Thursday as part of the vocational development segment?
We review our goals and talk about them.  We do Lunch & Learn where we go over different teaching series and learn how to improve and better ourselves.  We also have other tasks that we have to complete on a weekly basis.  Right now we’re reading through the book “Crucial Conversations” – a chapter every week, and a time management booklet.

What has been your favorite Lunch & Learn so far?
I really like the study we’re doing now – the “Ask It” series by Andy Stanley.  It focuses on different pointers for how to go about your everyday life and helps you think about how to act wisely.  It puts a lot in perspective and I can apply it in my everyday life.  It gives me extra tools to use when I’m not here. 

What impact is the vocational development piece having on you?
It’s actually making me a better person.  Now, before I do something, I question myself first.  I think before I act now, rather than just reacting to a situation.  That used to be one of my biggest struggles.  I really think I didn’t have the tools to know how to do that before – but now I do. 

How is it helping prepare you to accomplish future goals?
It helps me because we discuss things that tell me where I went wrong with some of the mistakes in my life, which helps me want to become better and accomplish my goals.  It’s equipping me to be able to accomplish my goals.  It makes me want to follow through with all my goals. 

What do you do at the end of the day to clean up?
I make sure all the paper is pressed and in the drying racks.  I put everything back in its place that we’ve used during the day and make sure everything is clean.  Make sure the towels and everything else is ready for production the next day.  The girls help me clean up; usually I have them each clean up a different station in the production line.  I’ve created a task list, and we rotate on that list each day. 

How do you feel after a day of work at TGR?
I feel so good!  First off, I feel good that I’m working. Second, I feel like I accomplished a good, productive day.  I feel like I’ve made a tremendous change.  I’m bettering myself for my future and for my son.  It all works out.  I don’t feel like I’ve done anything wrong or have anything to feel guilty about.  It just feels so good. It’s so rewarding.  

Some days it is hard.  To be around Leroy, Janelle and the other girls, it brings me joy.  I used to feel some days like I had nowhere to go and no idea what my purpose was.  But I’m in a good place mentally right now.  I have peace mentally – I may not be where I want to be financially yet – but I’m not angry, not mad, not sad.  I’m really in a good place right now and I really want TGR to grow because I don’t want to leave here yet.  I don’t feel like my job here is done.  I really want to inspire women and girls everywhere – across the world, nation city – to let them know that change is scary but you can do it.  Especially if you have people behind you with encouragement. 

Contributed by Kate McGaughey


Happy 1st Anniversary to That Grace Restored! 

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We at TGR can hardly believe that just a year ago this month we were testing our paper making skills in a little kitchen in South Atlanta and starting to sell product on our Etsy shop.  In December 2013, we displayed our leather and hardback journal lines along with Christmas cards at our official launch party.  We couldn’t have made it this far without the support of you – our family, friends and loyal customers.  Please take a few minutes to learn about where we are now and our exciting upcoming projects!


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Two Full-Time Employees.
We are so happy to share that we are employing two women to work as TGR paper artisans at approximately full-time hours.  One of these ladies is being trained in a Supervisor role and the other is taking on the responsibility of monitoring our Etsy shop in addition to making paper daily.  We also have 3-4 women with whom we are working who come to make paper on a contract basis. 

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Letterpress is on the way!
From the beginning we have talked about entering the wedding industry by way of letterpress wedding invitations.  We are one step closer with Janelle, our Creative Director and Director of Production learning the art of letterpress to teach to our women.  We plan to offer letterpress Christmas, “Thank You” and “Thinking of You” cards as well as Christmas gift tags this November!


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The Not Wedding.
The Not Wedding is one of the most unique bridal shows out there!  They stage a full-on fake wedding with vendors, food, guests, music and even a real couple renewing their vows as the “bride” and “groom.”  We have been selected to provide both letterpress invitations on our paper and menus for the reception portion of their March Atlanta event. This will give us the platform to showcase our product to over 200 local brides and several media outlets!  We are diligently working to perfect our product for this event and hope that many of you will consider using us for your wedding or special event invitations as well!


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Vocational Development. 
Part of our mission at TGR is not only to provide employment for women leaving the sex industry but to teach them how to be good employees and to communicate in the workplace.  To achieve this goal, we have started designating Thursday afternoons to watching short seminars or inviting guest speakers in to cover different job preparedness topics which are followed by group discussion.  We are also working with a wonderful individual who has experience developing job readiness programs to help us develop a tailor-made program to fit our learning-while-employed method.  


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Stitched: collaborative journal making classes.
In July we launched Stitched, a class concept based on the one-for-one model made popular by TOMS where for each product purchased, one is donated to a beneficiary of the company.  You and your friends or family  will visit our host location in the Southwest Atlanta community in which we work and learn to bind journals with paper made by our women – one to keep and one to donate to our Etsy shop stock.  By taking our class and donating a collaborative journal, you are empowering sexually exploited women by giving That Grace Restored the increased revenue needed to provide women with additional hours and to hire new employees.   

How you can help!
We are so thankful for you – those who have walked alongside us on this journey of developing a new social enterprise concept to fill a gap in services to women exiting the commercial sex industry in Atlanta.  Now, we are asking that you would continue to move forward with us as we build new relationships, meet new goals and achieve great things together this coming year.  Please consider actively supporting us in one of the following ways:

Donate.
We need additional funding to help cover operational costs!  Without our operational funding, we cannot keep That Grace Restored going. Every amount donated makes a difference.  You can do it here


Contribute a meal.
One of our largest costs is providing lunch for our women during the workday.  We need gift cards to local restaurants or catering dropped off to us during the week. If you’re feeling creative, you could even cook a meal and eat with us! 

Volunteer.
We have two really fun openings for volunteers who want to be hands-on.  The first is to join us in paper making on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am-2pm.  One of our artisans will teach you how to make paper. We’ll talk, we’ll laugh, we’ll craft beautiful handmade paper and we’ll build relationships.  

The second is to become a Stitched hostess at our Stitched collaborative journal making classes.  This is the perfect opportunity to be involved in connecting the larger Atlanta community to the issue of sexual exploitation.  We’ll teach you how to tell our story and describe the process of paper making.  You’ll partner with our journal making instructor to host our monthly Stitched classes and help people create a journal for a cause.

You can sign up to volunteer here! 

Come to Stitched.
Our Stitched journal making classes are important because they allow us to connect with our community.  Maybe you don’t have time to volunteer or financial freedom to donate, but you can take two hours out of a Thursday night to come make two journals!  Bring a friend, bring family – you can even schedule a private Stitched event in the comfort of your home! Your contribution of the $35 fee and the donated journal help us to offer our artisans more hours and to employ more women.  In one word : empowerment.  

From the TGR Team – Thank you, we love you, let’s continue to join together as a community to support women exiting the commercial sex industry!