Gwen grew up during the time when home economic classes were still offered in schools. She was raised by her grandmother, and Gwen and her sister both had to take sewing courses from 9th grade to graduation. Gwen loved it, yet admits she wasn’t always as good as her sister, who Gwen says is an expert stitcher. Every now and then Gwen had to do what had to be done and she used her sewing skills to make kids clothes, her own clothes, remake, or mend things .The first thing Gwen ever sewed was an apron in home economics class. Gwen initially lived in Tulsa, Oklahoma, then moved to Kansas City to work in IT with Sprint for 21 years. Gwen retired for a few years and then went back to work in IT with H & R Block. Gwen fondly remembers sewing a Christmas dress for her granddaughter. It was a Christmas themed brocade red, black and green with tons of tulle along with a matching bow tie for her grandson. “The tulle was quite the challenge,” Gwen said, but she got it done. Her grandchildren still have the outfits.
Gwen learned about The Sewing Labs training program from one of her very best friends who had attended a meeting of professional businesswomen. There was a presentation at this meeting about The Sewing Labs and her friend told Gwen all about it. This friend knew that Gwen sewed and she shared all about the program. In the meantime, her friend started to volunteer with The Sewing Labs and was raving about the program. She told Gwen she loved what was happening at The Sewing Labs and she kept encouraging Gwen to get involved. Gwen was planning on looking into the organization yet kept putting if off. Once she knew she was going to retire, she finally decided to enroll. It was then Gwen realized the opportunities in front of her for career growth.
Gwen plans to retire soon from H & R Block and then she will launch her 3rd career, thanks to completing The Sewing Labs seamstress training program.
Gwen says, “Zippers proved to be the most challenging aspect of sewing.” Throughout her years of sewing, she avoided things with buttonholes or zippers. Gwen remembers one time that her daughter had to have a particular dress for choir, and it was too expensive to go out and buy it new, therefore she sewed it. Gwen dreaded the center zipper on the dress. Gwen remembers, “I finally had a friend complete the dress with me. And we laugh about it today.” Gwen says she did not realize how much she did not know about sewing, until she got in the room at The Sewing Labs. Gwen recalls how incredibly helpful everyone was with her when she first started classes on the domestic machines. Gwen says, “I was familiar with the machines, yet I really didn’t know my way around what I needed to know. Marilyn, a volunteer teacher, was very kind, laid back and had the ability to show me what I needed to do and how to do it without offending me or making me feel like I didn’t know what I was doing. Marilyn was so great! I learned so much detail. Even how to clean my sewing machine. I had never in my life cleaned my sewing machine. When we opened my machine, we were stunned at the amount of fuzz and stuff everywhere inside.”
Gwen’s experience with The Sewing Labs has had an awesome impact her life. Gwen says, “People are their own worst critic. Being in The Sewing Labs programs made me realize you’re never too old to learn. I kept doubting myself, whether I would really be able to do this. The Sewing Labs increased my confidence, by 1000%”
What does Gwen love most about The Sewing Labs?
“People can make or break an experience. It is up to me not to allow it. If your personality, is I want to please and do well, people can really impact you. Everyone in the building was uplifting for me and encouraging with me, it was an awesome experience.” Gwen explained. Gwen advises anyone thinking about joining the programs at The Sewing Labs, “If you have had the thought in your mind, and don’t act on it, you’re selling yourself short. It is an incredible opportunity that you are missing out on. You can always say, I don’t need this skill, but once you get into The Sewing Labs and start learning and becoming confident, you can do anything! Because that confidence that I acquired, even more than sewing, has transpired to all areas of my life. I can say to someone, just give me a moment let me look at a project and at least give something a try. If someone is thinking about getting involved with The Sewing Labs, just do it.”
What is next for Gwen?
“All along, I said, once I was certified, I would find a part time job, and I am currently looking into factory work, so I can increase my speed and learn all about the industry.” Gwen is grateful for all the tours of different sewing business while in session at The Sewing Labs. Gwen met Laura Treas, founder, and owner of the KC Sewing Company/Fashion Tech, during one of The Sewing Labs industrial classes, and they really connected, and then ran into each other again at a Fabric Grab event, where Laura asked Gwen if she had graduated yet. “I was still in classes and she said, when you graduate, please give me a call. So, I gave her a call and am now an apprentice with her well-established, sewing organization.” Gwen said. Now with Laura, I am learning deeper, more detailed information about the industrial sewing business.
Gwen has toyed with the idea of becoming a volunteer with The Sewing Labs and somehow getting involved to inspire new students in the program. “Sometimes things come to us in a way that we don’t even know.” Gwen said. The Lord always has something else for you, you’re not sure how but he’s not caught by surprise. So, this has just worked out famously for me.”
Is there anything we should be doing differently?
Gwen thinks The Sewing Labs is a thought out and very well-rounded program that teaches you via a wholistic approach, not just sewing. Gwen learned how to communicate with others, the importance of owning your mistakes and being accountable. Gwen would like to further her training by adding pattern making to her repertoire someday.
Make’n HERstory event.
Gwen loved the Make’n HERstory signature event this past May. Gwen says, “I had enrolled to attend and then some awesome donor afforded me the opportunity to attend with a scholarship and debut my business and promote it with a poster and marketing materials. This anonymous donor created this amazing opportunity for me to attend and promote my new business. I received three new clients from this event along with new referrals. And now I have one regular customer from that referral.
Sewing Makes Our Hearts Sing
In 2009, Khalid & Fatin, a married couple, emigrated from their war-torn country of Iraq to the United States. They were
both highly educated individuals in Iraq, however those degrees did not transfer to the US. They finally found the Don
Bosco Center and enrolled in the English as a Second Language course. As part of that ESL course, they were able
to enroll in The Sewing Labs’ Sewing as a Universal Language program. In the process of learning to sew, Khalid & Fatin
tapped into and allowed their left brains to flourish. Fatin said they were focused on their lives in the right brain
functions of math, science and engineering, however it was no longer fulfilling since they couldn’t be employed with
those skills. After graduating from the sewing program at TSL, Khalid & Fatin set up a small sewing studio in the
basement of their home. They are now focusing on garment construction and speak of the sheer joy and happiness they
now have in their lives thanks to their newly developed skill of sewing. “Sewing makes our hearts sing,” Fatin says of their
experience with The Sewing Labs. “Because of The Sewing Labs, we have visited employers in the Kansas City area who are
actively seeking people like us; people who have been trained on the machines these businesses use. Thanks to The
Sewing Labs, we now have many ideas of items we can sew and sell, putting us in the business of being entrepreneurs.
That is our American Dream!
In 1990, LDH Scissors was founded in Shenzhen, just outside of Hong Kong, by a young couple who simply needed better quality sewing scissors. Fast forward to 2018, Roy and Ursula have brought the company to Toronto, Canada, bringing with them the same Love, Dedication and Happiness that made it all possible.
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