Category Archives: hired help

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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What The Fashion Business Mentor knows about: Bad Hires

I have a bit of a situation here.  One that involves too many mistakes and lack of reliability.  It comes in the form of one of my seamstresses.

Coming from a recruiting background I always beat myself up over a bad hire.  I should know better, right?  But then I remind myself of this, people are unpredictable.  You cannot control how they act but you can control how you react.  I have been reacting poorly.

I tend to be a bit of a bleeding heart.  I give people chances, lots of them.  I try to see their point of view and sympathize way more than I should.  It’s not a terrible quality as a person but it is an awful quality in a boss.  I am wasting time.  Wasting my own valueable time that my business could be making money.  I am spending that time training and retraining, fixing mistakes, and scrambling for help or to do things myself when my hire doesn’t show up for work or takes long breaks without notice.

I have been letting my hire hold me hostage.  She does a good job on some things and looking for new help on top of my current work load in the middle of the retail holiday season is more than daunting.  But not looking is killing me!  Added stress and pent-up aggressions are killing me.  So it’s time.

What I know about bad hires:

1.  Pay attention to the red flags.  Your gut is usually right.

2.  Confront the issues and give one chance to fix mistakes.  If an employee is not able to fix errors quickly the job is not right for them.

3.  Cut ties sooner than later.  You are running a business you are not a social worker.

4.  Your business is only as good as the people that work for you.  Pay attention to what went wrong so you can make a better hire next time.


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