East Street Arts

East Street Arts, a social enterprise of Marrakech, Inc. is dedicated to fostering the creation of art through artisan training programs, workshops and community interactions for people with disabilities.


How did your business start?

East Street Arts was an idea that came directly from the individuals Marrakech supports. They wanted something different than what the traditional employment programs were offering. They wanted to do the thing they loved - art - and earn money for doing it. East Street Arts provides instruction, assistance, product development opportunities, and a store for the artists who attend to create and sell their products. We also provide hands-on learning to our artists in the craft of seat weaving and they use these skills to restore chairs for community members.


What kind of person would enjoy your product or service?

I think anyone would enjoy shopping at East Street Arts. When you shop at East Street Arts, not only are you seeing an aesthetic that is one of a kind and on trend but when you learn the story about who is behind the product, it makes it that much more meaningful.


What does interaction with a customer typically look like?

Typical interactions with a customer are always a great moment. Especially when they learn about what we do and who is involved in the making of the products. The customers get a better appreciation of the shopping experience and know they are providing support to our artists with disabilities.


What are your best selling products/most popular services?

Our most popular product is our screen-printed flour sack towels. They are 100% cotton, super absorbent and soft. Not only is the flour sack material the best, but the designs on the towels are also originally from block prints created by our artists. Other popular items are our hand-painted textiles that will be on zipper bags, wine totes and table runners.


Why New Haven?

Our parent organization Marrakech was founded by two yale students in 1971 in New Haven. Also, the chair caning/seat weaving studio began as a program at Dwight Hall at Yale prior to being acquired by Marrakech. We’ve been in this space since 1991 and being in the East Rock/Upper State Street area suits us. It’s a great neighborhood.


How has your business been impacted by COVID-19?

We have a total of 14 artists and 6 staff. It’s a diverse group with everyone having their own unique skills that they bring to the team. COVID-19 impacted us deeply. While staff continued to be able to do chair repairs for customers from their homes, the artists unfortunately were not able to create products to sell because of the need to be at the art studio. Not only did it effect inventory for the shop, but sales were down and the state funding we would normally get from their attendance stopped. Luckily now, the artists are slowly making their way back and hopefully we will be able to get back to where we were.


What makes your business unique?

Our business is unique because of the services we provide to our artists and the story behind our products and who makes them. We pride ourselves in the types of products we sell. It’s not just arts and crafts made by people with disabilities. They are artists and they sell marketable on-trend items that look great in your home. It’s not just about therapeutic or personal expression but entrepreneurial intentions as well.


What’s a long term goal you have for your business?

The goal has always been and continues to be developing the skills of the artists. Our artists may have difficulty communicating in conventional ways but by having this unique business it allows them to relay their feelings by sharing their ideas and their opinions but at the same time learning how to create something that could be marketable. The individuals discover a sense of pride, especially knowing that the product created was sold because then that allows them to benefit from earned income that they might not otherwise have been able to receive.


Other than the above mentioned, the long-term goal would be to get the artists products in the hands of customers. Currently we are exploring wholesale to boost sales and eventually hopefully open another shop in a more high walking traffic area.


Social Media:

Website: www.eaststreetartsnh.org

Facebook: @EastStreetArtsNH

Instagram: @eaststreetartsnh


Discounts: Currently we are offering 75% off discontinued towel designs.