SAINT JOHN– A new cafe in uptown Saint John that’s employing low-income artists has opened its doors.
Catapult Cafe & Studio is a social enterprise operated by Outflow Ministry. It had its soft opening just before Christmas and it’s gearing up for its grand opening party this Friday at 116 Princess Street. The business is a cafe and an art studio that features works from low-income artists in the city.
“We actually hire on artists and craftspeople. All of the things that you see on the studio side of the shop is made by artists that are employed by us to make it,” says Miriam Westin, co-manager of the Catapult Cafe & Studio.
The employed artists operate under Catapult Creative and are employed by Outflow. The Catapult Creative team currently focuses on woodworking and fibre arts, and have made all the fabric works and some of the furniture in the space. Other art mediums are expected to be added in the future.
“That could always go into other things, like pottery,” says Jayme Hall, the co-director of outflow.
About nine people are currently working at Catapult Creative. They are individuals that Outflow has connected with both through their own programs, as well other organizations such as the Saint John Learning Exchange.
“We work with different programs like the Youth Employment Fund and the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work,” says Hall. “They help subsidize the wages for folks. So you can come on board for a 10-week program and everyone knows up front that you’ll be doing this for 10 weeks, and we’re hoping in that time frame that they can move to other things or move on into other jobs.”
Take a look inside Catapult Cafe & Studio:
Catapult Cafe & Studio will also be a place to help its workers learn employment skills they need in a supportive environment whether they are working on the art or service side of the business.
“A lot of people we hire are youth. They’ll have a supervisor. They’ll have a schedule and be learning job skills as well as the hard skills that they need for their craft,” says Westin. “It’s the same thing for the coffee side and for the studio side in that regard.”
The cafe gets its coffee from Hampton-based roaster Beamers Creek, which gets all of its supply from fair-trade growers in South and Central America. Teas also come from a fair trade company called Level Ground Traders, based in British Columbia. They also have herbal teas that were grown on the Kingston Peninsula.
Since its soft opening back in December, managers say the public response has been “overwhelmingly positive.”
You get a lot of responses from people saying that this is a very peaceful space when they walk in,” says Andrew Glidden, the cafe’s other co-manager. “There’s a sense of relaxation. We all live in crazy worlds and schedules, so it’s nice to provide a space where people can walk in and just feel at peace, even for 30 minutes or just to get a coffee and chat.”
With the cafe now up and running, Outflow hopes it will not only give people a good cup of coffee but a sense of hope too, something that’s a big part of the ministry’s overall mission.
“We may only be touching a few lives here at the cafe in terms of our staff, but we also have so many people coming in our doors from all walks of life … We really want to help them realize some hope for their own lives and for their city,” says Westin.
“If people can feel hope for other people, maybe they can feel hope for themselves as them well when they come into the space. We would love for that to happen.”