After graduating from Jewellery and Product Design at DJCAD, Stephanie Graham founded Natla Jewellery Studio and Dundee Community Craft. Based at The Circle, Stephanie is working towards a goal of making Dundee the European capital of recovery by creating safe spaces for people to come together, using creativity to cope with and heal from trauma.
A little over a year ago, directly in response to Dundee’s drug death and mental health crisis, Stephanie set up Natla Jewellery Studio as a more than profit organisation with the aim to provide a craft-centric holistic approach to recovery,
Inspired by her childhood growing up in Belgium, Stephanie recently launched her first mini-collection named From Brussels With Love, featuring small elegant silver pieces. All profits made from the sale of Stephanie’s delicate designs are reinvested in the community outreach programme of Natla’s sister community interest company, Dundee Community Craft.
“I centred my design philosophy around valuing the imperfect, the impermanent and the incomplete and holding authenticity above all”Stephanie Graham
Stemming from lived experiences of trauma, healing and recovery, Dundee Community Craft allowed the opportunity to share how craft and design can be experienced as methods of healing and self-care. Working collaboratively with the recovering community, Stephanie takes her mobile studio to different community centres providing free craft workshops and jewellery making as an empathetic form of emotional and social remedy to those who need it.
In doing this, Stephanie prioritises a person-centred and participatory approach to design and craft with the intention to impact meaningful social exchange. By acknowledging the multiple benefits of creating, making and sharing, she has been able to respond to the varying needs of individuals. Stephanie takes the time and energy to remind participants that they are not alone and that there are safe spaces to be vulnerable and recuperate together.
I just want to let those people know that I see them too and I know what it’s like to feel like you always need to wear a mask to hide what you’re going throughStephanie Graham
Although it is still early days, Natla has a commitment to shaping a sustainable and socially responsible creative business model, built on a circular economy rooted in love and care. Stephanie is serious about helping Dundee’s recovering community, prioritising five key values of; Authenticity, Integrity, Empowerment, Community and Inclusivity.
Natla is currently in the process of establishing itself as a service that can be accessed more freely through social prescribing, this will allow for people to be directly linked to the service as a recognised tool for wellbeing. This model is commonly used in the third sector but can be difficult to implement quickly, however, Stephanie was recently awarded a Great British Entrepreneur Award to support the process.
The times we currently live in intensify the importance of solidarity. Projects like this help us to recognise our collective responsibility and civic duty to be more generous with one another. Stephanie has demonstrated that having the courage to share our experiences, knowledge and skills, really is the best way to care and that we can all actively work together to find ways to support each other to creatively flourish and grow.
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