Today we get a chance to talk with Helen Haughey. Helen has taught at multiple conferences, served as a VP of Conference Planning, and has served as our Threads Challenge Coordinator since 2018. If you have questions about the upcoming Threads Selvage/Salvage Challenge, she’s your gal!
Helen, tell us about your business.
I opened Helen Haughey Designs in 2006, which I operate now in Celebration, Florida. I am an author and educator and I offer custom sewing services.
How did you decide what your business niche would be?
I have been sewing professionally for the last 10-15 years and I saw a need for custom sewing of high quality and excellent fit.
What makes your business unique?
Since moving to Florida I have been developing more independent classes and my uniqueness in this area is an innate ability to teach and encourage my students. I have also been enjoying doing a number of private lessons. It is important to bring to this all the skills I have acquired over the years, not just the techniques required to create a well-fitting and pleasing garment. Things like the best colors for any particular pupil or balance to the rest of the body through the use of a particular neckline.
What is something that you have always wanted to learn?
A professionally finished hand worked buttonhole and I am still working on this!
What is your favorite task to do in your business?
Complete a project, especially one in which I have struggled to develop/tweak the design.
What is the worst thing about being in business?
Keeping up with the bookkeeping.
How did you develop the layout of your workspace?
Many years of tweaking my work space. I am about to build out a new space so I have been reflecting on what are the essentials in my workspace that encourage my best work, apart from the obvious of good tools and good lighting. In the same way a good layout in your kitchen facilitates efficiency and hopefully great meals, so in the designers workspace a great layout does not detract from the flow of the creative juices!
What is your favorite part about being an ASDP member?
The friendships I have made over the years and the stimulation of sharing new ideas and techniques.
What goals do you have for your business (or yourself professionally) in the next 5 years?
I hope to return to in person classes and private lessons as soon as possible and plan to lead a fashion, food and fabric tour to Italy as soon as this is safe.
I would like to achieve a better balance of work and grandmother duties and to gracefully achieve retirement in about 4 years time.
If you could learn from any sewlebrity (dead or alive) and time and money were no object, who would it be and what would you learn?
Ralph Rucci: I would like to to learn from him two things in particular:
1. Construction of an Infanta (ball) gown
2. Finishing with unusual seam construction and embellishment
What are your favorite resources and/or authors from whom you have learned the most?
Susan Khalje introduced me to the world of couture sewing and it was eye opening in terms of bringing my enjoyment of mathematics, desire for control and excellence into alignment.
Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga.
What is the craziest request you have ever had from a client?
To make a Santa Claus suit. I am quite capable of doing this but have no interest whatsoever in making costumes (especially for adults).
What else should we know about you or your business?
I have recently learned ironwork.
This last February I team taught with Mary Funt (new member) the first French Jacket class in Florida and we have had many requests to repeat this class and will schedule more classes as soon as it is safe to do so.
I have been offering a new product in my Etsy store which I call a shoulder ham (reviewed by Threads issue #209, along with the sleeve board I have for sale (also reviewed by Threads issue #206). The sale of these products have sustained my business in this very strange year.
More about Helen and her business on her website HelenHaugheyDesigns.com.
Follow Helen on Facebook and IG @HelenHaugheyDesigns
You can find Helen's products in her Etsy store.