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Occasionally fate intervenes and you cross paths with the right people at the right time. Back in October of last year I sat down late one night and video recorded my story on my iPhone. I talked for 5 minutes about how sewing had saved my self-esteem, improved my self-confidence and how I was tired of living in a box of constant body shaming and image consciousness. I talked about past relationships, and the raw and uncensored truth of human interaction. I was dressed in a Puma sweatshirt with dirty, unstyled hair.
I showed the video to several friends who immediately loved the message but had serious concerns about the presentation. They all loved the raw honesty of my personal struggle and agreed I needed to release my story into the wild, but we all knew I needed a better medium than a poorly recorded video.
I decided to message Victor Agreda of Superpixel Studios on Facebook – he was clearly more tech savvy than me and I figured he’d be able to provide me with the names of some great videographers who’d be able to take my message and make it beautiful.
“Actually, I do that,” he replied, and that began our two month creative collaboration. We met over coffee on October 30 and after 10 minutes of chatter, I knew I’d picked the absolute best person to help me tell my story. We scribbled notes, mapped out the shots and delighted in the creative nature of what I was wanting to share with the world. We agreed to shoot footage the following Monday.
Victor’s instructions were simple: “Just start working. Pretend I’m not here.” I started tracing patterns, cutting, straightening fabric, pinning patterns, cutting, ironing, creating hems – all the things I do when I’m sewing.
I had no idea what shots he was getting, but I trusted his eye and his process. After the shoot I voice recorded my original script and then waited.
A few days later Victor sent me a rough cut of my video and I was astounded. He had combined my words, his shots, and a music track in an unbelievably beautiful way. I passed it along to trusted friends and sought more feedback. My story is admittedly raw and personal (I’ll be sharing more at a later time) and I wanted to do due diligence before releasing it into the wild.
Victor and I continued to discuss the concept and the message, and it simmered for another month as I made decisions regarding the voice over and the overall message. Did I want this video to share my personal struggle, or empower and motivate? Did I want the tone to be confessional or uplifting? Luckily, I sought the advice of another trusted friend and colleague who provided major edits to my script and managed to turn it into a powerhouse of empowerment.
I recorded my new voice part, Victor and I changed the music and we worked together to piece the shots in a way that flowed with the vocal and musical components. There were moments when I’d get a wild hair and he’d reign me in, and moments he’d say, “You have to see this first – I think you’ll like it.” He was right.
After several chocolate cookies and hours of creative collaboration, the video was complete. I sat in awe and near tears as I watched the fruits of our labor, two months in the making, on Victor’s flat screen. The next day we released it into the wild and the response has been amazing.
I can’t tell you how proud I am of the finished product, and how much I delighted in the synergy that was created through my collaboration with Victor. He understood better than anyone what I wanted to convey, and I think the finished video is an absolute work of art. I hope you enjoy it and love it as much as we do: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlkIu7Zeybo.
February was a bit of a wash. In case you missed it, you can catch my tome on the hardships of being self-employed here. Just when I thought March was going to be a slow month, cool things started to happen.
# 1: AIGA Knoxville presents PechaKucha
On Thursday, March 3 I was coming back from a quick trip to Atlanta when I got a message from Paloma with AIGA Knoxville, the local chapter of the Professional Organization for Design. She kindly asked me to present during Design Week. After screaming and almost crying, I got busy planning my presentation.
The format is both simple and complicated: 20 slides, and 20 seconds to talk about each slide. I immediately set out to mind-map all the things I wanted to say about sewing and Modern Seamstress in only 6 minutes and 40 seconds.
I’ve finalized my images and the text as of today, which gives me roughly 10 days to practice. Oh and choose a handmade outfit.
# 2. Sewing Clients Out the Wazoo
I sit down and plan for the following month two weeks in advance. Somewhere around mid-February I set a goal to have 5 sewing clients in March. It occurred to me this past week that I currently have 5 active commissioned jobs. I don’t like to play favorites, but I’m probably most excited about creating two maternity dresses for Hannah.
#3. Modern Seamstress in the Wild
It’s always a relief when I finish a client job. For some reason my level of attention and concentration is amplified when I’m sewing for someone other than myself. I’m super pleased that I finished these jeans in time for my client’s trip to England. Finishing this job reminded me, though, that I need to source garment labels ASAP.
#4. Modern Seamstress Gift Cards
This is where I admit than 95% of my ideas and things I “ship” come to mind on the fly, or because one of my awesome friends mentions it multiple times. If I’ve learned anything from my creative business it’s that ideas come from all directions, at any time of the day.
I had two friends tell me I needed these in the same night – suggestion duly noted. Good for any denomination, these can be used towards classes, alterations, or custom garments.
#5. April at Modern Seamstress
January really spoiled me. I had my two classes filled with sewing students, and I really thought I had the self-employed thing nailed. Then February and March came along. Despite an exciting release of what I thought were awesome classes, I had zero students sign-up for sewing classes in March. Last week, though, I got a call from someone wanting to take Sewing 101 in April. She found my number on my Facebook page and I took the opportunity to pick her brain.
With April I’ve attempted to offer a variety of class options. I have my usual 12-hour Sewing 101, but I’ve also added 3-hour workshops consisting primarily of demonstration. I also tossed in a 9-hour Intro to Knits class, as well as a home dec option: how to turn an old button down into a pillow.
WOOHOO! That’s a ton of cool stuff that’s transpired in literally the past three weeks. And boy am I grateful. Hopefully April will be just as exciting.