Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Last Business Post for Awhile (because we have a lot of sewing projects to share)

If you follow us on Instagram, you know that I went to Ventura this past weekend for the Craftcation Business + Makers conference. This event gathers together people who work in the craft industry, people who own craft based businesses, professional makers and people who would like to be professional makers. There are small business classes, panel discussions, round table talks, crafty workshops and of course the beach!

It was a much needed break to refuel and re-connect, and more than anything else I am SO grateful to be in the company of smart and savvy ladies and gents who are passionate about what they do. I shared a lot of my own experiences and learned a ton from others, and I even got to make something! One of the problems with owning a crafty business is that it tends to be more business and less craft, so making is always treasured. 

Cathy Callahan's Ombre Dye Workshop
Sew L.A.'s Quick Market Bag class

Another problem with being a small business owner is that there is no one to tell you what to do - every day you have to kind of make it up as you go along. If you have been with us from the beginning or if you have been in classes that I teach most likely you have gotten an earful about the state of modern small businesses and how weird and difficult it is to navigate the waters. 

The payoffs have always outweighed the perils however, and that's why we are still here! Every time a new sewer looks at me and says 'I can really do it!' or when two of my 9 year old after-school kids make AMAZING LINED COATS I know I would do it all over again. It's truly a blessing to be able to assist in unlocking creativity on a daily basis.

Sew L.A. is eight years old now, and we have been through a lot. Three different locations - doubling our space each time - fantastic people coming and going (most recently our beloved Haley relocated to Portland - sad face emoji!) - great parties & events - fabulous dresses and skirts and pants and pillows and totes and embroidery projects made - and I want to continue to teach until I fall down.

So with that aim in mind, we will be closing the retail portion of Sew L.A. at the end of April. Our classroom will still be located in the back part of our space (with a bit of a makeover) and our select inventory will be organized for only online sales. What does this change mean to you, our student and customer?

- You will be able to sign up for our wonderful classes on our website. We will be offering not only our own well-known sewing classes but workshops and seminars by local teachers and professional makers from across the country.

- You will be able to get all of your class supplies when you sign up (or at any time) in the form of a kit or individual items from our online shop.

- Once a month or so, we will have a pop-up shop (i.e. party) in the classroom where you can stop in and say hi, visit with us and visit the fabric (and also take some home with you if you like). 

- All of your questions regarding classes, policies, purchasing, zipper length and thread color will be answered in a timely manner via email.

- You will still have access to the best and newest fabric being released in our carefully curated online shop.

- You will have the opportunity to take a wide variety of creative classes besides sewing: fiber arts, woodworking, figure drawing, calligraphy, paper arts, bookbinding, basket weaving, soap making, candle making and crafty business management, to name a few.

- You will soon have many more Sew L.A. patterns to choose from as my time can now be spent creating and producing them rather than overseeing the shop. (This is the part I’m really excited about!)

‘But Shaerie’, you might say, ‘What is the reason for taking this step? Doesn’t the retail store make Sew L.A. a ton of money?’ The short answer to this question is that retail is not nearly as easy as it looks. And fabric is hands-down one of the worst inventories a shop can carry: it’s huge, heavy, expensive and slow moving. And then there’s the staffing, upkeep, taxes and merchandising costs to consider. 

Lastly, it takes TIME and that is what I have none of. With my 2 1/2 year old in daycare three days a week, I have about 15 hours a week to run the entire business. This is definitely something they don’t teach you in business school - how to navigate life changes and still run your business effectively. 

getting crafty with washi tape

So, to sum it up, in the cycle of a business it’s just as important to realize when to downsize as it is to know when to expand - and that’s what the idea is with this change. Downsizing to manageable while the baby is home, and ramping it back up again when he gets older. Oh, the visions I have for expanding again! 

April 25th will be the last day the shop is open - and of course there will be a big sale - then we’ll be closed for renovation from April 26 - May 1st. The classroom will reopen on May 2nd for classes! And throughout this next month we’ll be working on reconfiguring the website to reflect these changes. Meanwhile, feel free to email me at classes (at) sew-la (dot) com with any questions, comments or concerns. Now, let’s go make some great stuff! 


P.S. - if you are a maker who would like to teach a workshop with us, let me know! If you've taught before we can get one going pretty quickly - and if you've never taught before but would like to we can help you develop your class. Everybody wins!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Hiring Sewing Instructors at Sew L.A.!

It's official - we need another teacher! If you think you have the chops to join our stellar teaching team, send the info listed below to us at classes (at) sew-la (dot) com!

Here's our ad from Craigslist to give you an idea of what we are looking for. Pay is $15 - 20 per hour depending on experience.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 

Sew L.A. is looking for professional, experienced and engaging sewing instructors for our Los Angeles classroom. 

We are a fabric shop with a large classroom for both group classes and private lessons located in the Atwater Village area of Los Angeles. Take a look at our website to get a feel for what we do!


We have a fantastic team of garment construction, patternmaking and quilting teachers - are you the right person to join us?

This is a part time, subcontractor position with flexible hours. Our classes take place on weekends during the day (11am - 6pm) and from 6:30 - 9:30pm during the week. Private lessons may be scheduled at your discretion.

This position requires:

- In-depth knowledge of sewing garments - please don't apply if you cannot sew
- Weekend and evening availability
- A positive attitude and familiarity with social media
- Retail and / or office experience is a plus
- Organization, punctuality and reliability

Job Duties:

- Training on and teaching existing Sew L.A. classes
- Promoting classes via social media
- Helping students find what they need in our fabric shop
- Developing and teaching new classes (after training period)
- Teaching private lessons 
- Occasional posts for our blog (projects, events, tutorials)
- Attendance at our parties and events

We will train you for:

- Using many different brands of home sewing machines
- Teaching our Sew L.A. classes
- Writing your own classes
- Retail sales

Please submit:

- A resume with a cover letter that notes your sewing experience
- Professional references (these do not need to be sewing related) 
- A few pictures of recent sewing projects

We look forward to hearing from you!

Addendum: the lovely and amazing Heather will be joining our team starting in March 2015. But we are ALWAYS looking for crafty teachers and workshops so do not despair - if you think you'd like to work with us drop us a line at classes (at) sew-la (dot) com!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Job Opportunity at Sew L.A.!

Come and work with us! We are looking for a full time sales person who would be interested in training to be the store manager within a few months of hiring. Here's the ad we are placing tomorrow - all of our own peeps get the jump! Please, no phone calls or stopping in about this position - email us at classes@Sew-LA.com with all the info listed below and we'll contact you for an interview if the fit looks right. 

Fabric Shop & Sewing Classroom - Sales Position with Manager Potential

Sew L.A. is a boutique fabric shop and sewing classroom in Atwater Village, and we are looking for an experienced salesperson to join our team. Applicant must have experience sewing from commercial garment patterns to be considered for this position. 

This is a full time position starting at $12 per hour for training and sales, with the strong potential to segue into a salaried manager position within 2-3 months of hiring. We are looking for just the right person to help run the retail shop! 

This position requires:

  • Exemplary customer service & communication skills 
  • A strong retail background - styling and merchandising a storefront is a must
  • In-depth knowledge of sewing garments - please don't apply if you cannot sew
  • Weekend availability - Sat and Sun are our busiest days
  • A positive attitude and superior organization skills
  • Familiarity with and access to social media (Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest etc...)
  • Punctuality
  • Previous experience working for a small business a plus
  • The ability to think on one’s feet and make sensible decisions is valued over a formal education

Job Duties:

- Customer service, sales and class signups
- Opening and closing the shop
- Merchandising and displays
- Inventory management and assisting owner with orders
- Keeping the shop clean and organized
- Promoting via social media
- Occasional posts for our blog (projects, events, tutorials)
- Help with and attendance at our parties and events

What we offer:

- $12.00 per hour starting pay
- Discounts on patterns & fabric - we encourage you to dress handmade
- Half-price or free sewing classes to further your skills
- A vibrant community of makers

Please submit:

- A resume with a cover letter that notes why you are perfect for this position
- Professional references (these do not need to be sewing related) 
- A few pictures of recent sewing projects

We look forward to hearing from you!

Monday, December 29, 2014

Here We Come, 2015!

2014 has been... interesting. We celebrated 8 years of business, which is no small achievement in today's economic climate. We watched our core market shift dramatically with all the technology introduced. We had some fantastic parties and guest teachers! Personally, I am still learning how to take care of a business and a two-year old - I wish there were classes for that. 

Weaving at our Holiday Bazaar

First off, I want to say a huge THANK YOU to all of you students and customers who have allowed us to stay in business for 8 years. Now for the changes: the bad news first. We simply cannot afford to offer the range of sewing classes we have in the past due to the proliferation of information available online. 

I firmly believe that learning sewing from an actual person is the way to go (that's why I started a classroom!) and will happily talk for hours about the benefits of in-person classes. On the flip side, I'm all for sharing information however it works, and these online classes are a boon for those who don't live near a great sewing shop! I also have good friends who are writing these classes, and I want them to succeed and be paid well for their hard work. So the first change is less sewing classes - a tough decision, but small businesses need to change with the market and stay flexible.

Moving stuff around!
And we have a silver lining: more fiber arts classes, more guest teachers, more amazing goods in the shop. The past few weeks, we have been reconfiguring the space to accommodate more retail, and along with that we'll have new hours for 2015:

Sun - Weds: 10am - 6pm
Thurs - Sat: 10am - 7pm

Mario rules!
Keep your eyes peeled for weaving workshops, dyeing classes, fantastic guest teachers, macrame, block printing and weekend sessions of your favorite classes!

We'll be open later for open sewing in our SewLab on many Wednesday evenings, plus we'll be scheduling Sewlabs on weekend days so everyone has a chance to use our awesome classroom space. We'll be scheduling more Project Workshops - open sewing with a teacher to ask questions - so everyone gets some practice on projects they want to sew. 

New fabric wall
Almost there...

Lux thinks it looks better over here.
Open space!

Our Kids & Teens After School sewing classes have exploded! If you know a boy or girl who wants to learn how to sew or get some help with projects, check out the website for dates. I'm continually astounded with how fast and amazing our kids are, and recently one of the first Kids Camp kids stopped in to visit - she's in the costume department of her high school and used what she learned at Sew L.A. every day. 

All I helped with was pressing - she did the rest herself!
We have been hard at work expanding our embroidery section - carrying Kiriki Press kits, Subversive Stitching cross stitch kits, Penguin & Fish kits and sashiko supplies along with our faves, Sublime Stitching. We'll be offering an Advanced Embroidery class in addition to the Intro, and look for a Crewel class soon!

Our first Weaving Workshop is on Feb. 7th with renowned local artisan Cameron Taylor-Brown! We are now carrying mini looms from Purl & Loop and lap sized looms from Harrisville Designs in the shop. I'm secretly most excited to have found the metal potholder loom frames - a must for any kid you know who likes to make things (and some adults too).

And we'll be adding some really lovely lines to our retail selection: tableware and linens from Lotta Jansdotter, beautiful paper goods from Rifle Paper and One Canoe Two, and my favorite - Sarah Watts from Cotton + Steel has a gorgeous line of journals and notecards. Some of these items are already in the shop!

So all in all, we take a few roughs with the smooth and continue on. Here's to another great year of growing, changing and learning! Wishing you and yours the very best in the New Year - Shaerie and everyone at Sew L.A.