LONGVIEW, Texas (KETK) – Heartisan’s Marketplace, a non-profit organization centered around preparing unemployed women for the workforce or continued education path, is moving from their Downtown Location to a much larger space.

Heartisan’s marketplace began in 2014. According to Director Julee Rachels, the name came out of three words. “He, for God and for Christ, heart because all of our services comes from our heart and artisans because we create products that we sell in our retail store which fund our training program,” said Rachels.

Their training program helps unemployed women get their feet off the ground to potentially join the workforce or to get them on the college path. Their program, the ACT Career Ready Site, incorporates the ACT Workkeys curriculum, centered around measuring foundational skills required for success in the workplace. Working alongside Kilgore College, their program also acts as a testing site.

“Women are referred to us all throughout the community. We find exactly where they would fit in a career in our community just through interest surveys and just through aptitude, different things. And we do soft skills which make them a better employee no matter what field they’re going to go into. Things like teamwork and time management, productivity, all things that are going to make them a better employee.”

Julee Rachels, Director, Heartisans Marketplace

The ACT WorkKeys is a fundamental assessment for jobs in the East Texas area. “You need to have those tests on your resume and you need certain scores and so we are a preparation site. We can pre-test the women to see where they are and what level they’re at.”

Heartisans uses software through the Longview Economic Development Corporation that allows them to build a fundamental lesson plan that helps women in the program pass the exam with flying colors.

“A lot of the women when they come out of our program, they also not only go to work, a lot of them go on to certification in the career field that they’re wanting to get into, or they go to college,” said Rachels.

The pandemic took a toll on their organization at first, but according to Rachels, this was something that God had prepared them for. With the goal of opening an aftercare program for women that would essentially provide housing for up to two years for those who graduate the program, Rachels knew they were going to need more income. That’s when she decided to add an online store. Given that their indoor marketplace is what funds the majority of their training program. She said moving online is what saved Heartisans during the pandemic.

“For the two months that we were completely shut down with our retail, our sales were higher than what they would have been if we were open. Our sales stayed strong. We have four employees in total. They all stayed on board and we kept them busy. We were able to continue on our path to expand,” said Rachels.

Heartisans is now moving from their location in Downtown Longview to the north side of the area on 3501 Gilmer Rd. Although they love Downtown, Rachels said the space needed to eventually provide housing for these women was not available near their previous headquarters.

Heartisans will own this new facility, whereas the previous place was merely rented. “That is a big bonus for us, being able to own something and leverage it into that second phase that we want to do, providing housing for the women,” what Rachels claims is an immense benefit to their organization.

Their opening day is scheduled for November 2nd. If you’re interested in donating or volunteering, you can find more information on their website.