I had the wonderful opportunity to meet Stephanie at an ASDP-Oregon Chapter seminar recently. After months of limited contact with the outside world, attending this seminar made two things clear to me. One, being in a group of people feels strange-are we sitting far enough apart and what will they think if I sneeze? Two, being with my ASDP friends always makes me feel connected to a tribe.
I encourage you all to get connected with other ASDP members, even if you never get to meet in person, we are here to support you and welcome you into the tribe!
Stephanie, tell us about your business?
I opened Love, Stephanie in 2010 and am located in Lake Oswego, Oregon. I offer custom sewing services including Bridal and Costuming, as well as general and formalwear alterations.
How did you decide what your business niche would be?
By doing research and finding out what people in my community are looking for in a seamstress whether that be custom work, alterations, image consulting, and also where my personal sewing interest and skill could take me.
What makes your business unique?
I love fashion and beautiful, creative things and want to share that with others to help make them feel beautiful and look their best.
What kind of sewing education/training do you have?
I’ve gained my skills in a variety of ways. I earned a Bachelor’s degree in Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design with a minor in Art History from the University of Rhode Island. While I was at URI, I had the opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad at London College of Fashion. I also completed the Fashion Forward program at Portland Fashion Institute.
I always strive to be learning and developing myself. I take advantage of ways to continue to teach myself through reading books and blogs, watching online tutorials and connecting with other sewing professionals.
If you could learn from a sewlebrity (dead or alive) and time and money were no object, who would it be and what would you learn?
Susan Khalje, to learn bridal and couture sewing techniques from her. Also, Christian Siriano to learn how to listen and learn from others and take your skill to the top of your game. Ann Lowe, the black designer who made Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding gown, to learn how she dealt with the immense racism and discrimination while designing beautiful gowns for wealthy and famous white women in the 1940's, 50's and 60's.
What is your favorite task to do in your business?
Planning out the next project, sketching, fabric shopping and seeing it all start to come together into a lovely finished project.
What is something you absolutely hate about what you do?
I don't hate any of it, however I don't usually like the cutting out of a new pattern. It takes a lot of time and attention, and I just want to get to the sewing. Also, I do not like bookkeeping, I definitely lack in that department.
How did you develop the layout of your workspace?
I developed the work areas by what made sense in how I move around; the machines and tools I need easy access to, what storage space is available. Also, how it looks when a client comes over for a consultation or fitting. I want my clients to feel welcome, comfortable and special there, see the garments that I have made, and have confidence in my work. I like to have the room clean and neat while having examples of my work on display whenever a client comes over, so my dress forms and mannequins are a part of the space as well. I want it to be an inspirational and creative space that is functional too.
What goals do you have for your business in the next 5 years?
To have regular clients, to have a steady flow of customers, to design a small collection and sell it, to level-up my client projects and do custom work with fine fabrics and trims, have a separate studio or shop outside of my home.
What project is your absolute proudest moment?
Having a blouse that I made featured in Threads magazine (issue #174 September 2014), and making my wedding gown.
What is your favorite part about being an ASDP member?
All of the members, the shared skills, knowledge and experience, and belonging to a community who shares my interests.
You can visit Stephanie's website at lovestephanieapparel.com or read her blog at odetosew.com.
Follow Stephanie on Facebook LoveStephanieMendes and Instagram love.stephanie