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A slight tingle took hold of me

Justine Portenier, Managing Director Recorded by Barbara Imobersteg for series "How I got to know Social Fabric"

It started with a speed date. My first encounter with Social Fabric lasted exactly one minute. My interest was piqued, and a slight tingle took hold of me.

As a student of economics and social sciences, I took part in a further training course on the Sustainable Development Goals, as set by the UN in 2015. Peacebuilding, fighting poverty, social justice, inclusion, protecting the planet... These were my themes and visions.

Social Fabric was one of many start-ups that presented themselves in the context of further education and in the form of speed dating - but for me the most attractive. Heather Kirk, founder of Social Fabric, convinced and impressed me - her intention, her actions, but also her manner appealed to me right away. I applied for an internship and was invited for an interview.

Excited, I then stood at Eichstrasse 29, much too early.

Justine (on the right) with volunteer Margaritha at the Spring Market 2022.

On time, I finally entered and saw the sewing atelier for the first time. "How nice! This workplace would be wonderful," I thought to myself. My previous job took place in sober neutral rooms, and I was surrounded by computers. Creativity unfolded only in my head or digitally. Here in the sewing atelier, it was colorful and lively, and work was done by hand. It had an effect on me. I saw the beautiful products, the co-working, the diversity - and I realized:

There's more going on here than meets the eye.

It is something human and something valuable.

Heather Kirk and Helka Mäki were waiting for me. I had never seen such blond hair, the Finnish woman's hair was almost white. "People from all over the world work here," I thought. "They are the ones who shape Social Fabric and - as different as they may be - they all have the same goal: to change the world by working for global sustainable development."

I was still excited, but at the same time felt the comforting certainty that I would fit in with Social Fabric.

Heather introduced the organization and gave me a good overview by showing graphically everything. I was excited: this is exactly how I would have done it! The two women talked, and I perceived that they really met the refugees at eye level and that they had created a place where people were supported without patronizing them. That was crucial for me. Everything fit: Social Fabric and I, we were a good match. I tried my best to answer all the questions well and grab my chance. The last thing they asked me was what general benefit the sewing atelier would experience from my involvement. I said,

"I am a happy person, I will laugh a lot and spread good vibes."


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