Technicolour quilts sewing a path to financial freedom

Bolts of bright and spotty quilting material are stacked along the walls of a room in Vanessa Jasper’s house, a green table sitting in the centre.

This is where the single mother-of-two is setting up her own business to bring new life to the dying art of quilting and share the power of creativity with others.

“There’s a lot of slow stitching to it, which gives me the opportunity to calm, just reflect and sit,” Ms Jasper told AAP from her house in Bendigo, Victoria.

“The rhythm of the stitching gives you that time every day to be able to slow down and look after your own mental health.”

Her business Green Table Studio, which sells fabric and offers advice on modern and improvised quilting, was born out of online workshops run by the Global Sisters charity during COVID-19 lockdowns.

Global Sisters works with women across Australia to break down structural barriers to employment and improve their financial situations through business education and coaching.

The not-for-profit this month received support from corporate donors and the NSW government for its new program Solo Mums in Business, designed for single mothers who receive parenting payments.

The three-year program hopes to give free business support to 300 women, helping them create flexible incomes through self-employment.

“It’s incredibly difficult for solo mums to access flexible, secure and sustained employment when they are juggling family life, ” the charity’s chief executive Mandy Richards said.

“The more traditional and full-time employment opportunities are largely out of reach, leaving them to navigate options that are generally casual, unstable and short-term by nature.

“As a result, women who are solo parenting are more likely to circle back to social security payments by necessity of their circumstances.”

Data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2022 Labour Force Status of Families showed 83 per cent of one-parent households with children and dependents were single-mother families.

In one-parent families with children aged 15 and under, 67 per cent of single mothers were employed compared with 75 per cent of single fathers.

Ms Jasper said the charity’s programs helped her come up with a five-year plan to expand her business and diversify her income as her sons get older.

“Being a single parent can be quite isolating … so I saw it as a fantastic opportunity,” she said.

“It just kept me inspired.”


Stephanie Gardiner
(Australian Associated Press)


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