On Monday January 21st, the sewing industry lost a teacher who is remembered fondly by her students. Although not an ASDP member, she has touched our community through our members who took her classes over the years.
It is with great sadness that we share with you the passing of our dear friend and teacher, Cynthia Guffey, on Monday night. She had throat cancer. She did not seek, nor did she accept medical intervention, and so passed much the way she lived – in charge of her decisions, following her heart. Even when Cynthia sent a note last week canceling her appearance at both the Atlanta and Lakeland, FL, Expos, she did not let on how seriously ill she was. She was a very private person.
Cynthia was a founding member of our Expo family, having been at the very first event, missing an event only when her husband, Wayne, and then her mother passed. Her clever wit, generosity of spirit, intellectual curiosity and uncanny ability to communicate complex ideas simply and clearly will be missed by her thousands of students, her friends at the Expo and by each of us. Her impact cannot be overstated, and we will miss her more than words can express.
Her service will be held on Friday, January 25th at New Life Baptist Church at 11:00 AM at 34 Sunrise Place, Hayesville, NC 28904. Friends are welcome at 10:00 AM to greet her family. Flowers may be ordered from Rachel Payne Florist 828-389-0204. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to New Life Baptist Church, P.O. Box 742, Hayesville, NC 28904.
Her presence will be so deeply missed, but what a legacy of excellence she has left to us. Let us honor her memory with that same commitment to excellence.
As you prepare to close out 2018 and welcome the new year, what are you thinking about? Are you setting goals, writing resolutions, or looking back on your year? What do you want your business to look like in 2019? Will you increase your sales? Add to your professional knowledge? Diversify your offerings? How will you go about accomplishing these things?
Goals aren't going to meet themselves and like the successful entrepreneur you are, you know you'll need a game-plan. ASDP member Terri Martin recently shared this fascinating article that she came across from American author and entrepreneur, James Clear. This article from https://jamesclear.com/measure-backward challenges us to think about how we assess our progress in all areas of our life, business and personal, in a new way.
Joining the ASDP or renewing your membership is a great way to jump-start your business development in the new year. Participate in the online discuss list to network with your colleagues to problem solve, test ideas, or find new vendors.
Plan to attend local chapter meetings and the national education conference to grow your practical skills and business knowledge.
Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and/or LinkedIn for advice, reviews, and to stay connected to your colleagues across the world.
The goal of search engine optimization (SEO) is to have the search engines find your site and hopefully rank your page(s) relevance so that it appears at the top of the search engine results. This is not a one-time process; it requires cycles of testing, tweaking, monitoring, and maintenance. Outlined below is a broad five-step process to develop your own strategy for SEO.
A good place to start is keyword research. You may be familiar with industry jargon, but the general public may use different terms. If you’re a custom bridal designer, you may not call yourself a seamstress, but that may be the word that potential customers are using to search for your services. Keyword research provides an understanding of the words (and phrases) that consumers use in search queries.
Start your list with what you would type in a search to find your business; then ask your customers. Add to your list plurals, phrases, and potential misspellings. Rank each keyword or phrase with high, mid or low priority.
Google Keyword Planner is a free tool.
Using some of your keywords, examine the first 5-10 results in Google listings. Are they using keywords that you hadn’t thought of? Look at how they are similar or dissimilar to your web page.
The first step of planning is knowing where you stand. Having a benchmark of current statics gives you a way to assess if you are making progress. Web search ranking on targeted keywords, website traffic, and conversion rate are a basic way to start.
Using your baselines, develop goals for improving. For more about goal setting check out SMART(blog link). Clearly define your objectives before you start making changes. Being able to measure the ROI of your efforts will help you decide the best place to invest your time.
With a better understanding of what keywords consumers use to find your products or services; identify the pages on your website to optimize for those keywords. Each high priority keyword or phrase should have a page to correspond to that search query.
Beginning weekly, analyze search rankings and web traffic to determine the effect of changes you’ve implemented. Keep track of measurements in an Excel spreadsheet or use this template(link).
Take some time to gain a basic understanding of whichever web analytic tool you have decided to use. Google Analytics has a library of articles and guides to help you use the tool.
Continuing to add and modify keywords and website content is necessary to keep improving search rankings.
Check out these other free beginner SEO guides:
Google’s "Search Engine Optimization Starter Guide"
Occasionally we like to use this space to help you get to know the ASDP membership a little better. With the speed of business, technology, and life ever increasing, it can leave us feeling a certain disconnect from our communities and our peers. One of the most fantastic benefits of being a member of the ASDP is that it connects sewing professionals to one another when we are often sole-proprietors going it along.
This month, we'd like to introduce you to new member, Abby Stroot. Abby is the superb owner of Pincushion, A Sewing Shop, in Las Vegas, Nevada.
My name is Abby Stroot and I grew up in Andover, Kansas where I started sewing in middle school as a part of our local 4-H group. I am a third generation seamstress; both of my grandmothers made beautiful quilts and my mother made every school formal dress and Halloween costume I could come up with. After middle school, I got very involved in my high school theatre program. Throughout my high school years I volunteered with the Music Theatre of Wichita, working in various departments of the theatre. It wasn’t until college that I became more involved in costuming. I graduated from Wichita State University with my Bachelors in Theatre and during my time there I worked as a stitcher for the theatre costume shop. During the summer, I worked as Head of Wardrobe for the same theatre that I had initially volunteered for. As a member of Wardrobe, I spent most of my time working backstage during performances and some of the time working on alterations in the Costume Shop. After college, I worked for a touring production for awhile and eventually landed in Las Vegas.
When I first moved to Las Vegas, I didn’t really know anyone so I got involved in the community theatres as a way to meet people. In my first year in Vegas, I costume designed for over 10 productions across various theatres. Along with my volunteer designing for the theatres, I started working for Cirque du Soleil as a Wardrobe Attendant. I had been working for Cirque for 5 years when I decided to take the huge step of opening my own sewing shop.
The great thing about Vegas is that the artistic energy is everywhere and there are so many work opportunities within the city. I found myself and several of my friends working on various freelance gigs across the city. The only problem was that we were all trying to make masterpieces out of our tiny living spaces. There are so many stories of people turning their kitchen floors into a cutting space or trying to make a costume on their small dining table. This is where the idea for Pincushion sprang from. I felt that the city needed a space for people to make their masterpieces and not feel cramped. Office co-working spaces are such a huge industry right now, so why couldn’t we have an artistic co-working space? I wanted Pincushion to be a comfortable shop where people could come in and have the space to work on their own projects or to learn something new in a casual atmosphere.
Right now, Pincushion offers all things sewing. We do alterations, make custom orders, and offer sewing classes ranging from basics to advanced techniques. We also offer a rentable sewing work space, and we offer consignment retail for local artisans. We are in the heart of the Arts District in Las Vegas and we couldn’t be in a more perfect spot. The local businesses in the Arts District are incredibly supportive and everyone is very excited to help each other out. The Arts District is growing more and more every day and we look forward to what opportunities that means for Pincushion.
I’m really looking forward to the learning opportunities through ASDP, whether it’s at conference or through other member offers. Everyone has different tips and tricks to how they do things and I’m always interested in ways to improve my existing skills.
Sew Fitting is located in historic downtown New Albany, Indiana (which is about 5 minutes from Louisville, KY). I worked my first two years out of my apartment and over the last seven years I have grown through a variety of brick and mortar locations. We're now in a 2080 square foot building on a prominent corner downtown. This wonderful building is the oldest commercial building in town and was built in 1834 with the back office extension added in 1840. My landlords provided me with a list of every business that has been in the building for it's life and it's fascinating to see the kinds of businesses that preceded me. A few of my favorites were a sewing machine sales business and then a milliner and drygoods store. There's a strong sewing and clothing history to this building and I love that my landlords added me as the most recent tenant on the list!
I'm a big believer in diversification. In our current business model we are the area's only full-service tailor shop. We offer clothing alterations and repair, including a lot of bridal work, custom clothing including many historical reenactment garments, prototyping for inventors and designers, tuxedo rental, sewing machine repair, embroidery, and simple home decor work. I also teach at a local maker space and am looking forward to expanding that program and hopefully someday using it as a trade school for the sewing and design industry.
I like to describe my shop aesthetic as vintage industrial chic. It's a fancy way of saying that I love my all metal machines, custom wooden work tables, and all the exposed brick and woodwork in my 174 year old building. Our space is wide open with great windows and a prime view of our community. It's a wonderful way to feel connected to our town.
I am very fortunate to surround myself with a really dynamic staff full of absolute characters. Mandi is my part-time administrative assistant and full-time tattooed lady. Allison is my full-time seamstress who never fails to entertain us and puts customers at ease. She's also currently growing our new mascot, Baby Tailor! Brittni is an intern who transitioned into a part-time employee during the spring. We're looking forward to her making the leap to full-time in the spring of 2018 as we ramp up for prom season and Allison takes a step away for maternity leave. Last but not least, we have Bjorn the viking cat and his not-so-little brother Henry to keep us in line. The shopcats earn their keep by tracking down stray bugs that get in when we open the windows, holding down all the comfy chairs so they don't get away, and supervising our work with much enthusiasm. Thankfully they also take their job as official greeters very seriously.
When we moved to the current building it marked seven expansions in six years of business. We went from 850 square feet to just over 2000 so it was a pretty big adjustment. I kept meaning to make a scale sketch of the space with little paper models of all the furniture and equipment. I really did. I even sort of succeeded. The sketch was made. In reality, the space has got some pretty specific architectural features that dictated a lot of the layout for us. I wanted the staff to have a nice view and excellent lighting when they worked, so all the machines line the wall of windows along the western face of the building. We like to watch Fredric and Lorelei, the groundhogs across the street, as we work. There are several support columns that run down the center of the work room that provided great niches for our ironing stations and garment racks. These created a natural divide between the customer area and the work area while still leaving everything out in the open. There's a great little alcove in the back of the workroom behind one of the dressing rooms, so it made perfect sense to put our supply closets there. Most of the walls in the shop are very old, soft masonry and as such, we can't really hang anything from them. Thankfully, we have beautiful exposed rafters throughout the work room and our industrial look means that the chains we hang garment racks, artwork, and thread racks from blend right in. We're constantly reevaluating the shop set up and this winter will include a rather hefty overhaul of the back office to better utilize the space.
Usually the cats. Even if the cats aren't there to greet them, customers have either seen them before or heard that we have them and are on the lookout for our furry mascots. We often joke that having work done is the secondary reason that customers come to see us! The most common comments we hear are about the exposed brick wall, the lovely old rafters in the ceiling, and the wonderful lighting. Our shop is quite a visual experience whether it's your first time in or for those of us who are there day in and day out.
I've already talked about a lot of the individuality of our building, but I think beyond the looks and overall aesthetic, our space is unique within our industry. It's certainly different than any other tailor shop I've ever worked in. One of the things that I've found very typical in the alterations industry (and here I'm talking the typical strip mall shop rather than the beautiful home studios that are so prevalent within the ASDP) is that when a client walks in, they are typically confined to a reception area and fitting room. The workroom where the actual work occurs, and often time the workers who are doing the physical sewing, are hidden behind closed doors. This was especially true in the first shop I worked in when I moved to the Louisville area. There were only a few tailor shop staff who were permitted on the sales floor for fittings and the rest of us were kept in the basement workroom, like some kind of little secret. When I opened my business I knew that I didn't want to hide the work area. I am proud of our craft and I love the reactions from clients when they see us working. I am often told that people love to come in to see where the magic happens. I have nothing to hide from my clients and find that having everything on display can have a hugely positive effect on first time clients who may have had bad experiences with other alterations "professionals."
The ASDP Charitable Foundation is honored to announce a sizable donation from the family of Sharon Zydiak and the New Jersey Chapter in her memory. Here are some of her chapters reminiscences of this longtime member of the NJ chapter:
Sharon Zydiak, a founding member of the New Jersey chapter, passed away in April of lung cancer. She was very dedicated to PACC/ASDP. Even after she retired and became sick she still attended as many meetings as she could. She was an instructor and sales person at Fabricland in North Plainfield, NJ for a number of years and pointed many people towards ASDP from that position. She had her own dressmaking and bridal shop on Main St. in High Bridge for a long time called "Dial-a-Style".
Sharon was a former winner of the Make It With Wool competition. She helped judge the New Jersey chapter’s original jurying program. This program eventually formed the basis for the current MSDP program.
Three binders full of photos of her creations over the years including wonderful suits, jackets, dresses and bridal gowns were found in her studio. Some photos were included alongside a clipping of a garment that was the inspiration. The binders also contained a number of glowing thank-you notes from her customers.
Like so many of us, Sharon had collected several sewing machines, a wonderful resource library of books and Threads magazines, a dress form, yards of fabric, and tons of notions and supplies. Her husband, not knowing what much of it was or what he should do with it, contacted Sharon’s ASDP friends. The chapter organized and facilitated a profitable sale with the last of the items being donated to a non-profit called "So You Can" run by Vivian Burns. This organization runs after school programs, summer camps, and adult ed classes for children and adults to teach them to sew to empower them, give them something to do, etc.
Sharon’s husband, Wayne, wholeheartedly agreed to Lois Anderson’s suggestion that the profits be donated to the ASDP Charitable Foundation. So Wayne got his house cleared out of a lot of stuff he knew nothing about, many people got new supplies and a little bit of Sharon to hang on to, and the New Jersey chapter got to support two charities that encourage sewing in the process.
Sharon was a talented dressmaker, a good friend and mentor, and a knowledgeable teacher who was totally dedicated to her craft. Although she is sorely missed by the New Jersey chapter and all of her ASDP friends, being the kind of person Sharon was, she would be thrilled to know she helped others prosper in a career she was so passionate about.
We thank Lois Anderson, President, ASDP NJ Chapter, for these memories of Sharon and for inspiring this significant donation to the ASDP Charitable Foundation.
Through donations such as this and those from other members the Foundation is picking up momentum. We hope to be assisting future sewists soon. We welcome your support.
“Darlings of Dress: Children’s Costume 1860-1920” by Norma Shephard is a beautifully organized look at sixty years of children’s fashions. The book is nearly two hundred pages of visual joy looking not just at children’s fashions, but the societies that designed them. Ms. Shephard provides a stunning timeline that clearly delineates the change from Victorian children dressed as miniature adults to the 20th century embrace of children as children who need to move and play.
While perusing the chapters, all laid out by decade, I was very impressed not only in the variety of the pictures (almost always more than one image of each style being discussed) but with the depth of knowledge Ms. Shephard provided. In each decade she delved briefly and concisely into the views of the day regarding the purpose of clothing, the prevailing thoughts on health, new technologies that were available, and children’s place within society. The book also does an excellent job of tracking the provenance of garments and the transition from homemade to store-bought as well as what garments were procured where. Even as catalog and store bought clothes gained traction, there were still some garments made at home. As each new style is introduced it is accompanied by a vivid description of shape, fabric options, as well as popular colors and combinations. Often, garments are described that are not actually pictured. While initially frustrating to not see the garments, they are so meticulously described that they come alive in the reader’s mind thanks to the fullness of Ms. Shephard’s writing.
The pages of “Darlings of Dress” are absolutely filled with beautiful black and white photos and illustrations, as well as colorized fashion plates, catalog images, and portraits for every era. It is charming and delightful to see not only how fashions for children were changing, but also how the advertising changed with the decades. This book brings so many clothing styles to life for the reader with a full accompaniment of shoes, and bags, and accessories for the growing little one. A personal favorite is the (slightly terrifying) child’s purse made of some taxidermied critter, complete with teeth and eyes.
The 1860s dressed children as pint-sized adults and ushered in the advent of the sewing machine. The 1870s, with the sewing machine more established, enabled the lower classes the imitate those with more means. Children's clothing became more ornate, providing a perfect introduction to the 1880s when children were dressed to see and be seen, as Ms. Shepard so accurately put it. The 1890s brought dress reform and a new consciousness about health and children’s needs while growing. By 1900, while elegance was still a concern, clothing started to be more about ease. The teens brought with them dropping waists, relaxed lines, and finally a bit more time for children to just be and grow as children. Ms. Shepard brings a wonderful personal history to the book as well, with the final decade of the book featuring several childhood pictures of the author’s father at various ages.
From the nearly 50 page introduction which is informative and fascinating to each well rounded chapter/decade, Norma Shephard has produced yet another beautiful look at a niche in historical fashion. Whether or not you’re specifically interested in children’s clothing, “Darlings of Dress” is a beautiful and insightful look at 60 years of fashion history.
Review by ASDP member Cisa Kubley
This summer I attended a design camp at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. I studied fashion construction, one of three different course offerings they had under the fashion design category. My time there was extremely insightful. I learned much about what it’s going to be like going to college in a big city and about the field I want to go into.
It was a two week course going in depth into draping and pattern-making, an area I felt that I needed more knowledge in. The goal of this course was to sketch, drape, and sew together a complete look. During class time we would take trips out into the city to different museums to get inspiration, and to fabrics stores that I spent too much time and money in (I went to Joann’s so many times in one week, the lady knew me and asked where I’d been if I didn’t come in the day before.)
My instructor, Kylee Alexander, was extremely knowledgeable in what she taught. Whenever I had a question or something that I needed more understanding on, she was able to very easily explain to me what was happening and the next steps I needed to take to finish each garment. The teachers assistants, Sun and Sarah, were also super helpful and amazing. They were each more specialized in different areas and were able to help students in areas they were interested in with the TA’s previous knowledge. Sarah in particular was very good at flat patterning, she helped me a lot with the layout and construction of the jacket I made.
Being around so many people that I clicked with was also extremely helpful. It really helped me feel more creative, even though I’d already been thrown off the creative diving board upon arrival. Being so immersed in it was crazy and out of this world for me. It was stressful at times, but I loved every second of it. The deadlines were scary, but manageable. All the people I made friends with were mostly in my class, so we would stay up late together working on our projects and motivating each other to finish them.
On the skirt and top that I made I beaded these child-like stars onto organza. The process took forever! I was beading the skirt until 10 am of install day and the installation had to be up at 1 pm. I still don't know how I was able to finish in time but it all worked out. A really interesting part of the whole process was seeing what other people were making too and what inspired them. My look was more classic Dior inspired while another piece was Comme Des Garçons inspired. Viewing other people's processes is so inspiring to me, working in such close quarters with all of these other people I really got a feel for how their minds work.
Being in this environment really solidified Fashion Design as a career choice for me. It is something that I really love to do, and I am so ready to experience college life in this field. Also, after experiencing life partially in a big city I really felt like it was the right fit for me. I was just extremely happy to be there doing what I love doing, and that's important.
Where is your business located?
Oostburg, Wisconsin. Oostburg is halfway between Milwaukee and Green Bay on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. It is 7 miles south of Kohler, home of bathroom fixtures and championship golf courses.
Do you work out of a home studio or do you have a brick and mortar location?
I work from a home studio. Four years ago we put an addition on our home which houses my business and allows a separate entrance.
What kind of work do you specialize in?
Custom bridal gowns, bridal alterations, and cosplay (costumes).
Tell me about your favorite part of your sewing space?
The large storage bookcases which hold a tremendous amount of small things in an organized way. I also love the south and east facing windows- there is good light most of the day.
Do you work alone or do you share the space with others?
How did you develop your layout?
I mapped it out on graph paper first. I started with a carpeted floor, and ended up ripping it up and installing tile instead. Sweeping is faster than vacuuming!
What's the first thing that clients notice about your space?
"Oh! This is a real business!" The work space is integrated into our living space, but still separate from it to allow privacy for fittings.
What makes your sewing space unique?
Although most of the year my fitting area functions as work space, all of the furniture can be collapsed down and moved-allowing the room to transform into entertaining space for holidays and large parties. It can also be reconfigured into extra sewing space when needed for classes or large custom projects.
Virtually every U.S. state & territory offers help and coaching to business owners through Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs). While the offerings vary slightly by state, SBDCs are grant-funded organizations that offer no-cost, one-on-one coaching for business owners and potential business owners. The funding for the centers is primarily provided from the Small Business Administration (SBA), the individual state, and local municipalities. SBDCs exist to help small businesses start and grow in a healthy way. When a community is full of thriving businesses, there are more jobs created, more tax revenue generated, and an overall higher quality of life.
Each center typically has a staff of business advisers that have a wide variety of knowledge. Advisers assist clients with a range of topics: writing a business plan, understanding and preparing financials, strategic planning, and on-going accountability, to name a few. Business advisers come from various backgrounds but most have owned their own business at some point and/or have a deep knowledge base in business, accounting, marketing, or commercial banking.
To find your local SBDC, www.americassbdc.org provides a search tool by state and zip code. Canada has a similar program. More information can be found at www.communityfutures.ca Once you’ve found the closest office, give them a call to set-up your first one-on-one appointment. The center will ask you to fill out a form that provides your contact information and a bit about your business. All SBDCs are asked to track information about their clients’ businesses in order to show value to their communities.
Your first meeting will be a “fact finding mission” for your adviser. They will ask a lot of questions about your business or business idea and offer the opportunity for you to ask any pressing questions you may have. Sessions are sometimes very information driven. Other times they will function as a sounding board for brainstorming meetings. Be prepared . . . most of the time, you will leave with homework. Business advisers function as coaches and teachers. They want to see you succeed and thrive, but they won’t (and shouldn’t) do the work for you. However, meetings with your adviser can be catered to the needs of you and your business. While SBDCs typically offer workshops on prominent topics, the one-on-one meetings aren’t usually based on a set curriculum.
Some of the most popular topics are:
Writing a Business Plan—All business owners should write a formal plan for their business prior to starting and review/revise it on a regular basis. Initially the business plan helps the owner to think through and have responses to all aspects of ownership and operations. Once the business is established, the plan functions as a working document that ensures the business stays on track with its goals.
Understanding and Preparing Financials—The majority of business owners enjoy the “widget” of their business and would rather not spend time looking at a bunch of numbers on a spreadsheet or report. However, at the end of the day, the point of a business it to make a profit. It’s difficult to know whether or not your business is profitable or running in the red if you don’t have a solid tracking system for your bookkeeping. You need to be able to understand how to read reports like a Profit & Loss Statement, Balance Sheet, and Cash Flow Statement.
Preparing for a Commercial Bank Loan—The paperwork required for a commercial loan is more in-depth than applying for a home loan. This can feel overwhelming for a business owner. SBDC advisers are skilled in helping you put together the required documentation to give you the best chance at a loan approval. Many times, the adviser has built relationships with area bankers and can help match you with a lending institution that would be more apt to approve your loan. Also, SBDCs are aware of any type of community or economic development lending programs that might be available in your area.
Strategic Planning—It is normal to experience periods of feeling stuck and not sure where to go next in order to grow your business. A business adviser can lead you through a strategic planning session that will help determine where you want your business to be in three years and then work backwards to determine the tasks you need to start with in order to achieve the ultimate goal.
On-Going Accountability—Sometimes the best thing for a business owner is to have someone holding them to task on areas of their business where they are dragging their feet. A business adviser will be that extra set of eyes and the one asking, “Did you complete your homework?”
The Small Business Development Center can be a wonderful resource to help you further your business at no cost to you. Whether you are new to running a business or you have been an owner for years, the SBDC business advisers would love to help you take your business to the next level, whatever that may be.
Kari McGilvra has been a Business Advisor with the Indiana Small Business Development Center in New Albany, Indiana since August 2015. She has also been a small business owner for over a decade.
2885 Sanford Ave SW #19588, Grandville, MI 49418 ~ Toll-Free (877) 755-0303