All three women had heard of each other through their social media presence but had never met, until the murder of George Floyd shook the nation. Michelle, reached out to Porfiria, introduced herself and asked her how she was doing in this troubled time. Porfiria, touched by her genuine kindness and concern, began corresponding with Michelle and a friendship blossomed. They talked about their children, discussed world events, and, of course, bonded over their love of quilting. They soon found themselves corresponding regularly. They decided to collaborate on a quilt pattern, but they didn’t want to make something that just looked beautiful, they wanted to create something that could “connect with people” and “connect people”. They both knew Keyana, from social media and had admired her quilting. So, they contacted her and shared their idea, and the twosome became a dynamic threesome of creativity, diversity and friendship. Soon the busy working moms began speaking constantly and finalizing their ideas that would bring people together in these racially intense times. Color of Connection was born.
After researching the history of quilting, how it looked in the past and how it had evolved to present day, they decided to start an online “quilt along” that could bring people together and let people know that quilting is for everyone. But they needed a pattern, and not just any pattern, but one that would represent each of them through color palette and design. Inspired by a pair of earrings they saw on Instagram, they partnered with a local artist and created their first pattern. The “quilt along” integrated thought-provoking questions and deeper discussions to connect people of all genders, races, socioeconomics – people that you may not have otherwise ever crossed paths with – and find similarities and friendship through their common love of quilting.
But the three didn’t stop there. They knew that they wanted their proceeds from the pattern to go directly to a non-profit. But, after much debate and searching, they decided that the best non-profit would be one that they would create themselves specifically for the cause closest to their hearts; bringing the love of quilting to people who may have never experienced it otherwise. So, staying true to their cause, they created their own non-profit.
The next step was to introduce in-person workshops that were funded with the proceeds from the sales of the pattern and online donations. The workshops are held throughout the year for individuals that have not been exposed to sewing and quilting, including lower income teens and adults, foster care homes and women’s shelters. Starting in their home cities, they have held two successful workshops that gave the participants a feeling of accomplishment and a place to feel love and connection. After the workshops, Michelle, Keyana and Porfiria follow up to give further teaching and even provide personal sewing machines to those that want to continue their quilting journey.
What they have accomplished in their first year of operation is phenomenal. But these three aren’t about to slow down. They have a bigger, braver vision for the future of Color of Connection.
Their plans include additional workshops with changes and updates, more online “quilt alongs”, new exciting patterns and executing more of their ever-percolating ideas.
Michelle, Porfiria and Keyana admit that there have been challenges along the way, and that the response was a bit overwhelming compared to what they expected. But their hope is that Color of Connection grows beyond their boldest expectations and touches lives in a positive, life-changing way.
When asked what they themselves have learned and experienced from this endeavor of love they couldn’t contain their excitement and gratitude.
They spoke about the support of their families who stood by them while they spent many long hours creating Color of Connection.
But, seeing the joy and pride on people’s faces when they create a quilt or sew for the first time, not ever thinking they could or knowing it was something that they might be interested in, Porfiria described as almost a “spiritual experience”. It brings the three of them peace and affirmation, knowing that they have given people who truly need something joyful and purposeful in their lives a little slice of happiness and accomplishment.
Their mission is something that they live out by example; three women of three different races, with three different backgrounds, and three different lives, weaving a relationship through one common interest and finding meaning, love and friendship through their desire to help others find their own path in life.
This is truly the change that we all want to see in the world.