Nashville female inmates make purses sold in top boutique shops - WSMV Channel 4

Nashville female inmates make purses sold in top boutique shops

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Purses created by female inmates are now on sale at some of Nashville’s finest boutique shops.

It’s part of a unique program called DreamWeave.

Inmate Michelle Bonner shared her purse-making style.

“Once we finish with the chain, you loop it together to make the rings,” Bonner said.

Inside the Nashville jail, a group of inmates take recycled materials and turn it into something meaningful.

“One day when I get out, I’m going to say, ‘Hey, I know the girls that made that purse.’ Or I’m going to say, ‘Oh, I made that purse.’ And it’s going to feel really good,” Bonner said.

That’s the real goal of the DreamWeave program.

“So we’re hoping to change the public perception of an incarcerated woman. She is someone who had great challenges since childhood, early drug addiction, but so worthy of another chance in life,” said Louise Grant, co-founder of DreamWeave.

With cut-up Bible verses or colorful magazines, they collage their way into artsy handbags. They are sold in stores across town, including three high-end Green Hills boutiques, from $40 to $120.

Grant came up with the nonprofit DreamWeave program after years of volunteering at the jail.

“At the beginning we’ll ask if they consider themselves artists, and they won’t even look at you and say, ‘No, I’ve never finished anything.’ Then they finish this purse and they’re so proud of themselves,” Grant said.

Inmate Rachel Simmons believes the purses helped her discover purpose in her life.

“I actually want to be able to be an addiction counselor when I get out. I want to help people with the same problem I have,” Simmons said.

Officials said the program is more about the women’s future than their past.

“There’s still hope, even when you make mistakes,” Grant said.

The inmates allowed into the DreamWeave program are typically in jail because of drug-related issues. The women are allowed to keep the money when the handbags are sold. It is often used to pay court costs, victim restitution and child support.

For more information about the program, click here.

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