Saturday, December 8, 2012

"It seemed like nobody wanted to show me how..."

That theme came up more than once at this year's Nashville SewBiz Meet & Greet at SouthStar last weekend. Our Sew Biz entrepreneurs were telling how they got started in the commercial sewing business. Which may explain why we had another such enthusiastic and informative sharing-time at the meeting - if you want to accomplish anything in the sewing business these days, you better pick your colleagues' brains because it's mostly learn-as-you-grow.

Once again we had a great mix of folks in attendance, including stylists (those people who dress country music stars for shows and videos), a retailer, a journalist, and several cut and sew professionals. We heard a bunch of inspiring and entertaining stories!

In the picture at left, Diane Kuykendall of SouthStar, her husband Mark, and Loretta
react to Otis James' telling of how he came to Nashville and started his bow tie and cap business.

Three years ago, Otis pulled into our parking lot after a referral from Brother Sebastian at the Blue Cloud Abbey in South Dakota and informed us of his plans. With Loretta's guidance, he learned enough about designing, cutting, and sewing to get started and today his business Otis James Nashville is one of the hottest things going in town. And he learned from a real pro. Loretta has professional tailor credentials, does alterations at one of the national department stores locally, and owns Crown Caps Scrub Caps as well.

In this photo Jimmy Davenport of J.D.'s Boat Upholstery relates his unintentional entry in to the boat upholstering business which has led to a contract with a local hospital to renovate the furniture throughout their facility. Listening in are (foreground) David Bloom of Tucker and Bloom which makes and markets messenger bags on the web; Eugene Tipton of Tipton Upholstery, who besides running his business has taught the craft to many students over the years; and Valerie Ford of Destine Fashions and Alterations. Besides specializing in custom sewing, Valerie also teaches sewing from her shop to both adults and children. And by the way, that's Robbie Matthews of SouthStar sitting between Messrs. Tipton and Davenport.

Here you see Amanda Valentine of Valentine Valentine; freelance journalist Libby Callaway, often highlighting fashion subjects, recently relocated from New York's fashion district; Carla Catignani of SouthStar; and Stephanie Thomas of public relations firm TBWA / Chiat / Day.

At right Katy Kattelman, owner of cleverly named Katy K's Ranch Dressing , aka Katy K Designs, shares tips and quips about her longstanding ladies western wear store in the popular 12 South district of Nashville.

And at left, Bill Starks of SouthStar, left, and David Bloom sitting at right listen to Perry Hancock of Challenger Resources discuss his career from Cutters Exchange to Singer to Rimoldi of America to Bemis and now as a manufacturing consultant to outerwear makers and serial entrepreneur.

All in all, it was a great experience because of the people who came and shared their talent and stories, plus the networking opportunities!

How about your neck of the woods? Why not get together a SewBiz Meet & Greet and get to know your colleagues in this fascinating and diverse industry?

We're looking forward to the next Nashville SewBiz Meet & Greet, hopefully this summer, at a sewing workroom TBA.