New Ballymena shop opens selling luxury candles and more crafted by trainees with learning difficulties
Supported by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and The Gallaher Trust, Harmony Studio has opened their very first retail premises at 1-5 Broughshane Street.
Harmony Studio (formerly Alternative Angles) is a social enterprise, part of Triangle Housing Association’s Progression to Employment Service. This service started in 2006 to provide work-based training to help trainees with learning disabilities gain confidence, build skills, and develop their abilities as part the Northern Health Trust’s Widening Choice and Opportunities Strategy.
Ruth McCurdy, Social Enterprise Co-Ordinator at Harmony Studio said: "The opening of our artisan retail shop at Broughshane Street is a new development for our social enterprise and signifies the next step in the training programme of our trainees and we are delighted that this newly built and furnished area will allow them to further develop and hone their skills.
"We have been very fortunate in that our trainees have been making candles and other product for some time but what we hadn't was a shop, particularly one like this. Our trainees have been here for a few weeks, and we are already seeing how much they love what they do, the location and the additional opportunity of engaging with the wider community. They just love it as do we."
The shop sees local trainees with learning disabilities design, produce and package small batch, handmade luxury candles, room diffusers, soaps, bath salts, wax melts, and other products, as part of their journey towards sustainable and inclusive employment. There are six carefully designed scent collections: Vitality, Bliss, Bloom, Serenity, Nourish and Festive.
Ruth continued: "All of the products are made with care and lots of pride from fine ingredients, and in the process, give trainees a sense of achievement and wellbeing, a real “win win“ for our local community.
"We look forward to seeing you at the shop, come in and browse our range of quality handcrafted products designed to infuse and refresh your home, do some Christmas shopping, and meet our wonderful trainees. Remember any purchase you make will directly impact our trainees as all sales are reinvested in the service."
James Perry MBE, trustee of The Gallaher Trust said, "I would like to congratulate the team at Triangle and Harmony Studios – this a wonderful space. I can see how the trainees are very passionate about what they make and do, the retail shop and the opportunity that this has given them.
"The Gallaher Trust is delighted to be able to support this project and today shows how important it is to be able to make a difference in our community and also how important this retail shop is on the trainees' journey to sustainable and inclusive employment."
Currently Harmony operates three different training centres: Ballymena, Magherafelt and Coleraine, providing safe, friendly, and supportive training environments for the participants. Harmony Studio is the social enterprise service of Triangle Housing Association's Progression to Employment Service.