Thursday, December 29, 2011

Sustainable Carpentry for the Holidays

Throughout the month of December Nomi Network’s booth at the Union Square Holiday Market was up and running and all a bustle with visitors. The colorful booth was outfitted with Nomi Network products made by survivors and women at risk of human trafficking, including hand bags, totes, and wallets, perfect for the gift giving season. Open everyday until Christmas Eve, the booth was persistently staffed by executive team members and volunteers alike who all testified that being a part of the market was a gift in and of itself. Everywhere you looked there were craftsmen and women displaying their work proudly for shoppers to see, purchase, and enjoy. They were not only selling their wares, but sharing their skills and creativity with the world. Since being a sales person is an art form unto itself, everyone working at the different booths had to be both nice as well as dedicated to their products. Nomi Network’s volunteers were just that. Whether it was rainy or sunny, mild or frigid, the Nomi Network team shared their story with visitors daily while raising awareness about human and sex trafficking.

When Nomi Network fist secured a booth at the Holiday Market, there was much work to be done before the market opened. A structure on which to display the products needed to be built and would hopefully reinforce the organization’s mission. Enter our highly capable carpenter: Brad Acopulos. When he first heard about the job, Brad was hesitant, but after speaking with Nomi Network’s lead product developer and the visionary for the holiday booth, Supei Liu, he was instantly onboard with the project. “Supei was so very nice and there was [such] a good human connection with her, that I felt comfortable taking on the job,” Brad said.

Due to Brad’s execution the shelving and display units in the booth made excellent use of the small space. Using bamboo he constructed two thin units that fit along either side of the narrow space, with shelves for storage underneath and bars creating a criss-cross framework above. The framework created rectangles on which hooks could be hung so that products could be displayed, as well as openings in which photos of the women Nomi Network works with could be seen. The main shelves on the units where made with trough-like counter tops that were filled with rice in order to help shoppers make the connection that the material being used to construct the products was recycled rice bag material. The reason Brad began working as a carpenter and constructing custom made furniture was more or less inspired from observing people. “I give the analogy that people are like furniture, once made really well, but over the years abused, neglected, worn out, and just not functional anymore, and thus [it] gets tossed out in the street. With furniture that was once well made, I say you can repurpose it, restore it, and combine the pieces in creative and functional ways as such, to produce a perfectly desirable and functional piece of furniture.”

Thanks to skilled individuals like Brad, Nomi Network was able to present their products to a growing New York audience this holiday season and count their experience as a Holiday Market vendor a true success!

- Caroline Hughes

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