The Nashville non-profit DreamWeave was formed nearly a year ago as the first non-profit enterprise in any Tennessee prison.
The group teaches women inmates how to make handbags from materials you might normally toss aside, like old wrapping paper, used comic books and even old sheet music.
“This is giving me the opportunity to put something together out of nothing, so that's pretty cool,” said inmate Leah Rowland.
The group of about a dozen inmates – most imprisoned on drug charges – meets three times a week assembling the handbags out of the paper products. Each inmate then writes their own personal dream on one of the segments that are eventually incorporated into the handbag.
“They are taking paper products that have been viewed as discardable, and many of these women also feel like parts of their lives are discardable,” said Louise Grant, with DreamWeave. “When they can combine those two, and create this beautiful artistry work of a handbag, it truly is transforming.”
The finished purses are then sold online or at area stores like Diana Warner Studio in Green Hills, with proceeds going to the inmates themselves, and toward programs that help them prepare for a brighter future after they are released.
In addition to each individual dream woven into every finished handbag, inmates also write a personalized postcard to the person who purchases the handbag, with an opportunity for that person to write back to the inmate who made it.
Click here for more information about DreamWeave, including an online store where you can purchase finished handbags.