Our mission is to offer an employment platform for individuals with special needs to learn and practice embroidery tasks; train work ethics; build confidence; and eventually secure stable employment in the community. We aim to manufacture the highest quality embroidery while empowering young adults with limitations to realize their potential and further contribute to the community.
Turtleworks wishes to fill the gap in the current lack of opportunity in the traditional job market by providing training in basic job skills while also fostering a safe and supportive work environment.
Turtles may be slow, but that never hindered them from succeeding. The story of the tortoise and the hare is familiar to all: Despite the hare’s initial conviction in an easy victory, the tortoise persisted slowly yet steadily, and eventually won the race. The moral of this story is that you can be just as successful by going at your own pace—even if it will be a long journey for you than others. With trust and faith in your abilities and values, you will achieve your goals with great fulfillment. This is an ideal that we as a business strive to embrace, and we will work together to grow a welcoming space that can support this vision.
During May of this year, I was chatting with a volunteer mother and mentioned that I would open a small embroidery shop centered around creating jobs for individuals with special needs. Little did I know that this conversation would lead to the first opportunity for my business.
A few days later, she asked me if I could embroider some personalized graduation gifts for her children’s friends, who could not join in-person graduation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As I was walking around the next morning, I noticed lawn signs in front of many homes in the neighborhood, bearing the names and schools of recent graduates. I was saddened that they were missing the opportunity to experience their deserved celebration and ceremony. Perhaps there was something that I could do for all of these people?
I happened to have four neighbors with graduating children, and I started by sending each of them a graduation towel embroidered with their name and graduation year. I hoped that the gifts could bring them joyful and positive memories in the future, and maybe make up for the lack of an in-person ceremony.
When I gave my neighbors the towels, the parents were very grateful. Some of the children wrote me emails thanking me, and some wrote me cards. I was so grateful to start my business with a meaningful, tangible impact.
Although everyone has universally dealt with inconveniences during the pandemic, such small wholesome interactions are heartwarming, fulfilling, and infinite.
I continued to customize more towels for special needs children who graduated this year, and I was surprised by an overwhelmingly positive response. One parent even told me that her child wouldn’t stop wearing the towel around the house. I was extremely touched and inspired as I received tokens of appreciation from my community, including food, treats, and pictures taken by parents of their kids happily unboxing their gifts.
In the beginning, I was fearful and doubtful of starting my business during such an uncertain time. But even though I wasn’t receiving “face-to-face” help, I was fortunate enough to be a part of one of the best online embroidery classes in the U.S. where I met amazing individuals online who were eager and willing to help me. No matter what questions I had to ask, they would always reply quickly—and even if they couldn’t understand me, they would ask me to send a video, then patiently get back to me.
I also met some talented high school students who helped me design my website, Facebook page, flyer, and brochures. My friend’s child, who is a graduate student pursuing English, helped me revise and edit an article that I wrote. Another friend helped me with developing my promotional video. Even during trying times, so many wonderful people have stepped up to help my business, and I am deeply thankful for all of them. This entire experience has inspired me to persistently seek avenues to share, create, and give to my community, even during times of uncertainty and risk.
Sherry Meng - Owner & Founder