July 2023: Chapter 2 Angela Wolf’s book

In July the Colorado Chapter of ASDP continued its discussion of ASDP member Angela Wolf’s book “How to Start a Home-based Fashion Design Business.”  This time we discussed chapter 2, titled “From Dream to Reality.”

This chapter of the book has lots of information that is common advice for members in our group, so we focused on what is different.  The book concentrates on advice for fashion designers, but we do lots of alterations and custom work. 

Our main topic of discussion was the need for a contract, which is very important for fashion designers to get paid.  Most of our members work with individual clients on a one-on-one basis.  This means we have a chance to interview our clients and get a sense of their honesty.  And much of our business growth comes from referrals, so new clients can usually be trusted if the original client was honest.  One member reported not being paid by only one client, and another reported that only one altered garment was never picked up and was never paid for the work.   

We were mixed about requiring a deposit.  If people want to give a deposit, (e. g. for the fabric) that is welcomed but not required by most of us.  One client wanted to make partial payments at each visit, which was not a problem.  Most clients are too excited about getting the final product, so they pay as soon as the item is ready to be picked up.  One member, who does pattern design work, requires 50% deposit before any work begins. 

We did acknowledge that many of us work independently and that fashion designers with collections that require contract sewers (especially if overseas) would want to be protected with a clear contract.  If a member is concerned about what would be in a contract, it was suggested that these points be printed and posted on the wall for the client to read.

Another topic of discussion was the use of computers to help with business.  Our older members don’t use computers much but said they would if they were younger.  One of our younger, computer-savvy members uses computers to schedule all her appointments and lets her young clients schedule appointments by themselves.  The computer then generates a link to a video meeting for them to discuss online what is needed.

To be added to the mailing list for our chapter’s Zoom meetings, contact Pat at colosewingpros@gmail.com .

June 2023: Trims on Wheels

After a survey of our chapter membership, we decided to invite Luc Roelens from Trims on Wheels to our June chapter meeting.  Many of us had shopped with Trims on Wheels at local sewing festivals before the COVID pandemic. 

After introductions of the types of sewing we each do, Luc showed us trims suitable for garments.   He had numerous white and off-white trims suitable for formal (bridal) wear.  He also had various Rocco-styled flower strips made from folded ribbon.  One trim several of us liked was satin cord wrapped around colored grosgrain ribbon.

Luc and Edie have recently moved from Wyoming to Florida.  They are maintaining web-site sales and Luc will do personal zoom-based showings if you are looking for something specific.   To learn more about Trims on Wheels, go to https://trimsonwheels.com.

To be added to the mailing list for our chapter’s Zoom meetings, contact Pat at colosewingpros@gmail.com.

May 2023: Jack Makovsky

     For our May meeting, the Colorado chapter was fortunate to hear from Jack Makovsky. Jack is Executive VP Ralph’s Industrial Sewing and Board Member of Denver Design Incubator (DDI).  He was invited to speak about the state of sewing manufacturing in the State of Colorado, because Ralph’s supplies most of the sewing manufacturing equipment to businesses in the state, which makes Jack uniquely positioned to know who is doing what.

     Ralph’s presentation covered a wide range of topics including Colorado success stories, trends in the industry, headwinds or conditions that impede or inhibit progress, and future opportunities.

     One of Colorado manufacturing success stories is Mellanzana Outdoor Clothing in the mountain town of Leadville.  Mellanzana does not sell its products online; customers are required to make an appointment to determine what is required. Growth in Colorado is also found in the bag industry, outdoor wear and outdoor gear.  In addition, demand is active in the theater, military sewing, and alterations businesses.

     In terms of the future, two high schools are reintroducing sewing into their curriculum, but further progress in the sewing business is limited for several reasons: limited number of skilled sewers, lack of schools teaching sewing skills from basic to couture, inadequate wages offered to sewing experts to teach others and funding needs. For industrial sewing there is also a lack of suitable or affordable facilities for manufacturing.

    Opportunities to improve are abundant.  Jack described looking for potential sewing industry employees at ethnic centers who know of new immigrants coming into the state who would like to work in the business, working with local schools and universities to help establish a beginner sewing program, working with the Denver Design Incubator to train people interested in learning sewing by sharing our standards of quality (certification), and teaching people how to use manufacturing equipment to satisfy industry demand for skilled labor (which DDI does).

    One area where ASDP can help is by getting apprenticeship programs subsidized through local businesses, ASDP and DDI.