Sewing her way to success

Juana Ospina, sewing machine operator at Grand Forest in Summerville.

Juana Ospina, sewing machine operator at Grand Forest in Summerville.

Juana Ospina was looking for a way to build her confidence, advance her skills and enjoy a career. With assistance from Vocational Rehabilitation, she did just that. As she completed job readiness training, Juana’s determination and potential was apparent to everyone in VR's Moncks Corner office. Although very quiet and unsure of herself, Juana was highly competent and possessed exceptional attention to detail.

Business Development Specialist Michelle McDonald reached out to a local business partner, Grand Forest Inc., and arranged for an interview and sewing assessment for Juana. Although Juana had never touched a sewing machine in her life, McDonald knew the environment at Grand Forest would be a perfect fit. The supportive culture of the company, the attention to detail required by the job, and the location of the company, aligned perfectly with Juana’s employment goals.

Grand Forest, an independently owned US sewn products manufacturer and importer, specializes in the design, development, and distribution of quality goods. In their Summerville facility, they manufacture safety apparel for chainsaw users, which is sold throughout the United States and internationally.

Juana joined Grand Forest through an on-the-job training opportunity as a Sewing Machine Operator, during which she learned the advanced skills of industrial sewing. Through the training and support she received from her coworkers, supervisor and manager, Juana blossomed. She successfully completed the training in early February and plans on remaining with Grand Forest for many years.

Juana has truly come out of her shell and demonstrates flexibility, eagerness and confidence in herself, as well as her team. The quality she puts into each piece of her work is seen in the final product. All members of her support system, including VR, Berkeley Mental Health, and Grand Forest, are very proud of Juana and how far she has come.