We’ve had an astounding year in so many ways, some more positive than others!
First, we’d like to share the ways the Chicago School of Shoemaking and Leather Arts has been able to survive the first 9 months of the COVID-19 pandemic after the first wave of restrictions forced us to cancel classes starting in March:
-In the spring, our community, students, their friends and families generously opened their hearts and wallets and donated to our first-ever GoFundMe campaign. GoFundMe even donated to the campaign with a donation from their #smallbusinessrelief fund and 192 people shared our fundraiser with their networks!
With these much-needed funds, we were able to pay our utility bills and invest in materials and resources that enabled us to design and produce a line of impeccable leather goods and officially launch our DIY product kits. Our product kits helped keep the creative juices flowing while everyone did their part to slow the spread of COVID and stayed home. We even heard some were able to bring in some much needed personal income by selling goods they made with our kits!
-In the fall, we were fortunate enough to receive a small business grant as part of the SBA efforts to support local entrepreneurs.
The grant helped us cover a few more months of bills and enabled us to pivot once again as we added virtual teaching to engage and support students remotely. The technology the grant-funded empowered us to:
-Launch ZoomAwl--a live virtual platform to troubleshoot leather projects.
-Launch Virtual Outstitch Shoemaking on the Zoom platform for those who can’t visit us in Chicago to learn shoemaking.
-Begin shooting video of shoemaking processes to add to our archives and offer to future students
Unfortunately, we’re now facing the reality that we aren’t in the clear quite yet. Facing more restrictions resulting from the recent resurgence has been daunting for us all, but with your help, we can power through for the next few months until the vaccines do their magic.
So, until we can once again welcome you into our space with open arms and fewer restrictions, we are launching another campaign. Our needs are once again clear and we’re confident this is the final stretch in this unprecedented experience.
We are confident things will be much better in late spring/early summer, but until then, we know that we need $19,500. This money will bring the last 9+ months of innovation together in a sustainable way, help us continue to pay our dedicated team and keep our doors open and the heat on.
If you’ve ever been to our studio, you know firsthand what a welcoming space it is. However, now that we’re making and selling products and virtually engaging students and hosting virtual leatherworking parties, it’s time to bring our online presence and your digital experience up to the same standards….and this final campaign will help fund both while offsetting the income lost from winter shows being cancelled and the 80% reduction of revenue from restrictions on in-person classes. We look forward to the big reveal of our new online platforms and revamped website and we’d love nothing more than to have you be part of making this much-needed transformation a reality.
We thank each and everyone of you that have offered support in so many ways since the pandemic began. It warms our hearts that with your help, we’ve continued to support our creative community with projects, experiences and products as we’re all in this together!
You, your generosity and our team’s collective efforts have gotten us this far. What we need now, is another push to keep us on the map. Whatever you can do, whatever you can donate--will be super appreciated and give us the chance to keep offering new classes, new experiences and new skills to our students.
Whether able to donate or not, please share this campaign with your networks along with a sentence or two about what the school has meant to you. If donations aren’t exactly your thing, we’d encourage you to check out a few other ways we’re hoping to weather this final wave by clicking here (other ways to support).
We humbly thank you and wish you the best in 2021!
Sara McIntosh and the CSOS team