I am writing on the last winter’s day in February. We can feel something exciting happening in the mountains: Spring is in the air. Here some days and gone the next until winter is behind us. February is tough in the mountains. The days of winter isolation, cold and dark, inadequate heating systems grating on us by now. The long dark days. The winter stasis. Many of you know that Drew and I were sick for half of February, and then it took another 10 days or so to get my energy back. This was not an easy thing when this business takes place nights and weekends. I had to face some tough facts about needing to get more help for my business activities.

And with the spring weather so much help has arrived. The first bit of exciting news to share is that an additional, very experienced sewer has joined our shirtmaking apprenticeship program: a local sewer and custom tailor who sewed her first blouse at 9 years old. This could not have come at a better time. With Covid and weather delays our novice apprentices are working diligently on the curriculum and are not yet ready to sew the muslin blouses. I have chosen to keep them focused on learning the technical details on the blouse rather than divert their attention to the muslin Founder’s Circle samples so that they will be prepared when we need to make the final blouses as a team. However, with our instructor focused on teaching our novice apprentices, this has meant that I have been left to cut and sew up the muslins – a situation which worsened when I got sick.

Our newest apprentice is familiar with all our sewing techniques and more and over a few weeks period is getting up to speed on our methods and generously contributing her expertise along the way. This means that starting next week we will have additional sewers working on the muslins so we will be able to pick up the pace on our Founder’s Circle blouses.

We had a beautiful moment at last week’s apprenticeship session where the five of us were standing around the big ironing table with our blouse pieces in front of us while our instructor, our newest apprentice and I talked through the best way to ensure quality on the construction on our cuff on the Boss Blouse. I could feel the benefits of multigenerational sewing wisdom and the joys of bringing our knowledge together to build a great product. I will write to say it plainly – we can design a great product, pick out lovely fabric, have nice packaging and social media but if our sewing quality is not to standard we don’t have it. That is a fundamental part of our brand – high quality, tailored womenswear. It was in that moment that I felt the confidence of standing in front of a team and seeing that we have what it takes to do this, to build this dream.

Another exciting development – while sick early in the month I surrendered to the fact that I do not have the capacity for web updates, for consistent social media and to make sure all the awesome things we are doing together get out there and reach people. So I am bringing on a multitalented local web and social media assistant to make sure that our content is up to date, to share more pictures and to make the most of what we are building together by making sure that it sees the light of day in the web universe.

Lastly, repairs on the roof are scheduled for the coming weeks. We are commissioning a local carpenter to build a large fabric cutting table and a table for our industrial sized ironing board. We have waited for so long to have a womenswear workshop of our own that it feels impossibly exciting and expanding to prepare to move into our space. However – we now have to make sure we have what we need to be on our own (away from the generous equipment and supplies our instructor has contributed in her tailoring space).

We are looking for two more industrial machines – ideally one straight stitching machine, a double need machine, and an industrial button holing machine. If anyone has any leads or suggestions please write me (Reid) at reidmillerapparel@gmail.com.

Thank you so much for all your support!!

Go, fight, win.