Ask TFBM: Can’t find a sew shop in my area, help!

Business has grown so much over the last year, to the point that it’s very difficult for me to maintain on my own. I attempted to hire some help, after 2 bad eggs finally found one dependable person (which I found very ironic to one of your recent blog posts).  However, she has taken a temp. job and is only going to be able to provide part time service to me.
I really want to explore this world of contract work/custom patterns etc.. but I have no idea where I need to start to accomplish this or even make a dent in the information. I have done some research on the sewing work rooms– but the availability of them to my area are very slim– if any.  I am questioning the next step in my business again..being in the industry yourself, I feel like you may be the only person that would be willing to answer my questions.


TFBM Answer:

Well I am back to all nighters of sewing since I had to let my seamstress go. UGH!  I am meeting with a new sew shop soon though.  I will be lining him up for spring production.  Right now the most of my orders are all etsy shop so there is not enough lead time for me to source it to the sew shop.  I do have another seamstress but like you she has another job.


My husband and I just happened upon the mecca of sew shops.  A tall building in LA that looks like apartments but is actually loft after loft of sew shops.  Why are these people not on google?  I swear I am going to start a directory online of sew shops and their specialties.  Why is there nothing out there like that?  That’s your question right?


I’m not sure, perhaps they just don’t know how to market themselves?  Perhaps they rely on word of mouth and that keeps them pretty busy.  Perhaps they don’t have the proper licenses and are trying to stay under the radar.  Who knows.  I have been doing this 4 years now and finding good sewers that will take small runs is the hardest thing to find.


For local help I am going to give you the advice I give everyone.  Start with your local dry cleaners.  If it is a Vietnamese or Mexican you will have more luck.  That is not a racist comment.  My husband is Vietnamese.  The reason is this.  Many Vietnamese immigrants who moved to the US during the war worked in factories including sew shops, many of them have turned this into a home business and own industrial machines.  Also there are many garment manufacturers in Mexico so many mexican immigrants have sewing experience too.  We both know that commercial sewing skills are a developed craft so finding people with this background already is key.  It’s very hard to convert a home sewer to a commercial sewer and get the price point and speed you need.


Back to the dry cleaners.  Just go in and let them know you have a business and need sewing help and ask if they know of anyone.  they may just have a sister or aunt who sews and needs the work.  Many dry cleaners also do tailoring on industrial sewing machines and they may even be able to help if they are slow and need the work.  This may just be a temporary fix but it may be worth it until you figure out a long term plan.


As for pattern making I am going to be reaching out to my local fashion colleges and looking for an intern.  One that has studied digital pattern making and that wants to apply that experience.  Work on trade for resume experience and a reference.


Hope this helps a little.  Let me know if you have any questions.


All my best!
Katie Nguyen Owner/Designer/The Fashion Business Mentor

my biz kangacoo designs


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