By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
ALLEN PARK — Michael Gerner, 26, of Allen Park has been busy building his business creating custom aprons from recycled clothing which started as a hobby.
Gerner’s mother, Elizabeth Gerner, has been helping sort and handle orders.
“We currently have 20 orders to fulfill and even more messages on the Facebook page,” she said.
Those interested in placing orders for custom aprons or cup koozies made by Michael Gerner can message Elizabeth Gerner through the Handmade by Michael G Facebook page.
Each item is made to order and Michael Gerner is present when items are given to customers, Elizabeth Gerner said.
She also added that some customers have even ordered aprons for Halloween and Christmas.
Michael Gerner creates the aprons from recycled men’s button-up shirts that have been donated to him or from shirts his mother buys from thrift stores. Koozies are made from recycled men’s ties.
“It is something Michael likes to do and keeps him busy without pressuring him,” Elizabeth Gerner said.
The beginning of the one-of-a-kind aprons began while Michael Gerner was attending Mixter Institute for Transition, 3301 Electric Ave., in Lincoln Park. He is on the autism spectrum and joined the post secondary program after graduating high school in 2013 through the maximum age limit of 26.
Gerner was taught life skills, job skills and more including sewing where his talent shined while first learning to make bags for a cornhole game.
“His teacher saw that he was really good with the sewing machine,” Elizabeth Gerner said. “The teacher gave Michael the pattern of apron and he continued learning and making aprons that were sold at the school’s store.”
As a result of the sales, Michael Gerner was able to purchase a sewing machine which he uses now. Elizabeth Gerner said there are other programs offered in Wayne County to help people with disabilities that her son could enroll in, but for now he is enjoying the items he is creating.
During this year’s Wyandotte Street Art Fair held in early July, Michael Gerner sold out of aprons at his booth before the fair was over.
Elizabeth Gerner said she has been contacted by Lincoln Park, Allen Park and Southgate to have her son’s creations sold at similar fairs. Boutiques in Wyandotte and Northville also have reached out to have the aprons sold at the stores.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)