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Many Hands Come Together To Support Women From Refugee Backgrounds

Community

Melbourne-based events social enterprise Merchant Road has just launched Many Hands, with support from some local hospitality heavyweights and much-loved creatives.

The eight-week paid-training initiative aims to create better employment opportunities for women from refugee backgrounds. To celebrate, they’ve produced this series of powerful portraits – a showcase of the resilience, strength, and potential of all the women involved!

17th June, 2019

Many Hands participants Nikki and Zeituna. Photo – Stina Evjan, of Gold and Grit Photography and Breeana Dunbar. Art direction – SO.LE studio.
Participants wear Arnsdorf apparel and Habbot footwear. Floristry by Cecilia Fox.

Many Hands participants Jess and Raga. Photo – Stina Evjan, of Gold and Grit Photography and Breeana Dunbar. Art direction – SO.LE studio.
Participants wear Arnsdorf apparel and Habbot footwear.

Many Hands participant Asanti. Photo – Stina Evjan, of Gold and Grit Photography and Breeana Dunbar. Art direction – SO.LE studio.
Participants wear Arnsdorf apparel and Habbot footwear. Floristry by Cecilia Fox, linens by In Bed Store.

Merchant Road founder Jane Marx. Photo – Stina Evjan, of Gold and Grit Photography and Breeana Dunbar. Art direction – SO.LE studio.
Jane wear Arnsdorf apparel and Habbot footwear. Floristry by Cecilia Fox, linens by In Bed Store.

Elle Murrell
Monday 17th June 2019

‘… strength, style, and power emanate from the women we work with.’ – Jane Marx.

Merchant Road believe that true hospitality is about welcoming others, and forging a sense of community around a table.

The Melbourne-based not-for-profit has just launched their new training program Many Hands. By providing eight weeks of paid training to women experiencing barriers to employment, it aims to equip participants with skills to find work in the events and hospitality industry.

‘The program has already helped me in many ways; it has not only helped me in gaining experience, skills, and knowledge in a practical environment, but also prepared me for job opportunities and made my resume broader and now I can proudly say I have the experience, and hence I am a good candidate for more employment opportunities,’ tells Many Hands participant Zeituna.

True to its name, the initiative leverages the strength of collaboration. Skills in coffee making, service, wine, and floristry, are being taught by the likes of Market Lane Coffee, Milieu Hospitality, Rachel Signer, Cecilia Fox, and Candy Mountain.

‘Merchant Road is a not-for-profit with a social mission to empower women through work, and the way we do this is quite unique’. explains founder Jane Marx. ‘We partner with the best busi­nesses in the industry; we have a strong signa­ture aesthetic and we create really special dining experiences. Ultimately, we invite people to come to the events we run so they can experience something exceptional. If they support our social mission, that’s a bonus!’

To celebrate its launch, Merchant Road has produced this powerful photo series inspired by a portrait of female entrepreneurs in CEO Magazine. ‘Obviously, the young women we work with are very much at the beginning of their career journey. However, when I saw that image, I thought, that’s us there. That same strength, style, and power emanate from the women we work with. This is an important step in changing the visual narrative of what a strong woman looks like,’ explains Jane.

Merchant Road worked with Australian-designed, Italian-made footwear label Habbot, local sustainable label Arnsdorf, Cecilia Fox, In Bed Store and SO.LE studio on the exquisite campaign, which was shot at The Establishment Studios in Fitzroy.

Funded by the Victorian Government’s Pick My Project initiative, Many Hands is currently being run as a pilot program with 14 young women until December. A series of long-table dinners will take place at the conclusion of each training, providing program participants with the opportunity to gain experience hosting events open to the public.

Purchase tickets for Many Hands’ upcoming dinners here. Find out more about the initiative at Merchantrd.com.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net