in the beginning Our founder, LeEllen Smith, stepped out in faith when she conceived of and created OUTsideIN, trusting God to guide us. She heard His call to action when our area's largest employer closed its doors, sending 1500 people in search of jobs in an impoverished agricultural region that already had double-digit unemployment rate. How could LeEllen's disadvantaged, chronically unemployed neighbors hope to compete with so many skilled workers for so few jobs?
So LeEllen dusted off her sewing machine and her accounting degree and began OUTsideIN as a way to provide jobs, mentoring and support for women who've been marginalized from the mainstream workforce by problems with addiction, incarceration, domestic violence, disabilities and lack of education.
She enlisted the help of other women who are passionate about empowerment, hired our first employee, and started sewing garments using upcycled T-shirts. The inspiration for those garments was a dress she'd made for her young daughter, and its design was the inspiration for the sliced T-shirt in our logo.
Since then, our product line has changed and expanded as we find new materials and new opportunities for the OUtsideIN workshop and our customers.
our name The OUTsideIN name represents the work we undertake: to bring the OUTsidersINto a safe, structured work environment where they can learn and grow while creating one-of-a-kind products. our hope Hope is stitched into every button, every seam, of the work we do. OUTsideIN works because of the many things our employees and volunteers do here, but also because we believe that every life is important and worthy of love. When a troubled person stumbles, we pick them up and walk alongside them while they find their way. We hope for them - for all of us - every day.