Verde Sews

Verde Sews provides sewing workshops for low-income women of color living in the Cully neighborhood in order to build the skills needed for starting a sewing business or business partnership.

Verde Sews workshop on Plaza stage.jpg

Program history

Verde Sews grew out of a desire shared by the 13 women participants to learn a trade skill that would help them create a business. Some of the women in the group were master seamstresses in other countries, but face a lack of opportunity in Portland. As one of Verde's social enterprises, Verde Sews seeks to mitigate some of the barriers to success many of the women face, including poverty, lack of access to affordable childcare, lack of affordable housing and English as a second language. 

In 2016, Verde offered six sewing workshops at the Living Cully Plaza. We provided a professional instructor, childcare, language translation and a meal at each workshop. A total of 13 women attended all of the workshops and are interested in continuing to become proficient seamstresses and begin a businesses.

In 2018, we hope to double the intensity of the program by providing 12 workshops over the course of six months. We hope to hire one of the master seamstresses from the community to lead the classes in Spanish. By hiring locally, we ensure that the financial resources invested in the program stay within the group and neighborhood we serve. 

Verde sews is seeking sewing machines! We hope to provide sewing machines for all of the women so they will be able to follow along with the instructor and increase hands-on learning. If you have a sewing machine you would like to donate, or want to donate money for this cause, please contact Melissa Palavecino at (503) 290-8570 x 221 or

Participant Spotlight

Rosa Flores  working at Cully Park.jpg

Rosa—who also works as a temporary, on-call crew member for Verde Landscape—is a single mother of five children. Rosa grew up in Mexico and survived several natural disasters, including major earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis and fires. While Rosa has never been a professional seamstress, she is very talented in sewing and has successfully sewn beautiful children's clothing during Verde Sews' first year of programming. She also lives in affordable housing in the Cully neighborhood, not far from our Living Cully Plaza, where Verde Sews meets. Rosa's husband died unexpectedly last year in a work-related accident. Now, Rosa works very hard to provide for her children on her limited income. Verde Sews offers Rosa an opportunity to further develop her sewing skills in pursuit of starting a business, either on her own or in partnership with Verde Sews. The opportunity to start a business, on her own or in partnership with Verde Sews, may be life-changing for Rosa and her family.