Life never seemed to take a straight road for Andrea. First she studied nursing in Quebec and the year that she was to take her final exams, Bill 101 was introduced and she was expected to take her finals in French. While she could speak French, she was not fluent enough to write an exam.
Plan B was to become a Personal Support Worker and then a Community Support Worker and all was going well. Until she was in a bad car accident and couldn’t work any more. In fact after some bungled surgery, she had difficulty walking and couldn’t sit for years.
For many people all this would seem such a downer, but Andrea has a positive attitude and her faith helped her navigate through the tough times. “You just have to move on and make do with what you have.” she shares. “We are not materialistic, we’re a close family, and that’s what matters.”
The mother of four adult children, and three grandchildren, has always sewed. Her mother taught her when she was eight, and she also learned sewing in school. She laughs as she tells me that her mother used to make all their clothes – “they were the ugliest clothes in school.”
But she has done well by that knowledge of sewing, using it to make weighted blankets that are helpful for children and adults with anxiety, insomnia and even menopause.
“My kids introduced me to Facebook and on there I saw ads for weighted blankets. When a young mother approached me about making one, I thought how difficult can it be.” And it wasn’t.
Fast forward to today, and Andrea ships out around ten blankets a week. While she lives in Oshawa she has built a small cottage industry for herself. She has subcontracted the work out to mothers who sew and have to stay home because they have a child on the autism spectrum or with special needs.
Each woman has a set role to play in the making of the quilts, and Andrea’s husband does the heavy part of lifting them. At the start the quilts were made for children and because they are custom-made, the kids got to pick which fabric they wanted on the cover, meaning that they are more keen to use it.
However, Andrea has found great interest of late from students who are coping with the stress and anxiety of college and university. “Just putting one over your lap while you work or study, has a calming effect.” she advises.
Andrea runs her business as a social enterprise and her long term goal is to broaden her base and provide meaningful work to more women who have to stay home. She’d also love to teaching sewing skills to children and youth on the autism spectrum as she knows only too well, sewing is a marketable skill.
Andrea’s accident while dreadful at the time has turned into a blessing for so many people. Just showing that when life delivers you lemons, you can make lemonade.
Weighted For You
Sewing in that extra hug.