I Closed My Sewing Studio
THIS IS NOT A SAD STORY.
Recently I gave one of my many daydreams a shot, and it didn't quite work out. In December 2017 I was lucky enough to find a dirt cheap studio in Downtown Tucson. The rent was only $130 a month, and that was with all utilities included. No deposit, No lease, No problem! The small studio is in an old beaten up building with a sign that reads “Pleasure World”. That's because it used to be a sex shop, which in turn made me love it even more. It was a great price and one of those rare cheap treasures that still exist in Tucson. I also live two blocks away in the same neighborhood, so you cant really beat that. I used this space to sew and produce garments for my online shop, but that was it.
I noticed there was a larger studio in the front of the same building my studio was in. It had a large window and a door that faced the sidewalk and street, with plenty of foot traffic. I was working 9-12 hours a day in a small corner studio with no windows and fluorescent lighting. It wasn't hard to fall in love with the bigger space. I day dreamed for a couple of months about moving into that larger studio and having sewing classes, social hours, and being able to accept alterations. This large space was $450 a month so it was definitely an increase in rent, but I really thought I could handle it. So I made the leap at the end of May 2018 and moved in. No deposit, no lease, no problem! I knew i could leave quickly and easily if things didn't work out, so it was a risk i was willing to take.
I moved into the larger studio at the end of May 2018. I knew going into it that it would also be some work, it was pretty damaged and needed some repairing. I also needed to get furniture and tools to make the space functional. I made sure to never swipe a credit card and to pay out of pocket for everything. If I didn't spend cash on it, it was donated to the studio for free. I really did not want to be under a massive pile of debt if it did not work out.
I started the sewing classes immediately when I moved in. My mission with the classes was to keep them informative and affordable. I even offered a scholarship code for individuals who wanted to learn but couldn't afford a class. I was lucky enough to teach people in my community classes that were for beginners all the way to making lingerie. On top of that I was altering clothing, and operating my business. While also continuing to make the time for repairs in the studio on my own. It was a lot of work for one human. I eventually became exhausted and sick and wasn't making enough money. I was sick for almost 3 weeks for the month of September, and caught a weird cold/flu the day before my birthday. My gift to myself was to not suffer anymore. I tried to do the work of 10 people while also staying profitable, but it was a battle i couldn't win. I put my notice in as soon as i could and moved out at the end of September 2018. It was a short lived dream.
Now, like I said this isn't a sad story. Once things got too difficult, and my health started to suffer. I immediately made the decision to stop. It just wasn't worth the struggle and stress. Since there wasn't a lease and I didn't put myself into any debt, it was easy to leave. I had already learned so much, and I had done so much. It didn't really feel like a loss. I was able to get a great friend to move into the studio with her business after I left. It overall felt like a natural and needed transition. This doesn't mean I didn't get sad and cry a lot. Opening the studio fulfilled a lot of hopes for me, and made me feel like I had a greater purpose. For now I decided to not teach for a very long time, and get back into what I really love doing which is making clothing. There is so much that I can still learn with sewing, and as a POC who wants to operate her own business. For now I am back in my apartment with all my sewing gear and making it work. I’m extremely fortunate to have two rad landlords, Jane Norton and David Aguirre that support me like they’re my own parents. I'm also lucky to have some solid friends. My support system is made up of 5 people I am close to, But technically made up of almost 6,000 fans & followers! As corny as this is, I really hope you take some chances and fall on your ass. As long as you’re a little smart about it, and prepared for the possibility of failure.