I am writing you an update on a cold winter’s evening from the mountains of West Virginia. We have successfully completed three virtual measurement sessions with our Founder’s Circle group to capture their measurements for the custom-fit Boss Blouse. We now have 13 Founder’s Circle women signed up. We also found out that the womenswear workshop space that we were supposed to move into in February has a roof leak, then the landlord said he’d repair it, and then the only company that had insulation in stock for the roof burned down (you can’t make this stuff up).
I have come to learn that there is a challenging stage in starting a business in a small town reviving where there are few spaces to lease for an inexpensive rate because many of the buildings require serious attention – often with their roofs which cost tens of thousands of dollars to replace. You can buy the buildings for a relatively inexpensive cost, but if you are not ready to or cannot afford to do this this leaves you with few options for the shorter term. You can have a space that is rustic looking or a little funky, but a leaky roof or mold is a no-go for an apparel operation. We are confident that our current space will work out and are preparing for further delays, if necessary, at our instructor’s tailoring shop but I wanted to share this interesting tidbit we are learning.
In addition to the challenges with the space some really lovely things are happening too. I arrived at our apprenticeship training last Thursday and our awesome sewing instructor, Lisa Lambert had repaired her industrial machine so it is now available for the apprentices to get used to working on while we wait to have the space to set up our machines (they have been working on their home machines which is not ideal for speed or quality control).
In addition, Lisa and the two apprentices were taking detailed notes and videos on Lisa’s shirtmaking instructions. The newbie in the area in a room of born-and-raised West Virginians, they had gone ahead and begun planning for the weather to get worse before it gets better in the event that they would need to work from home. (Apparently February weather is always worse than January which has been a deluge of snow and ice). Another small miracle – bandwidth at the house has improved in the evenings and on the weekends so I have been able to do the Founder’s Circle virtual measurement sessions in the evenings at home without a hitch.
And lastly – but not least, this week the first muslin sample blouse ships out, to the lovely and talented artist, natural dye master, pattern maker Ann Tilley so we will have the opportunity to test run our virtual fit sessions remotely with a pattern maker to boot. Woohoo.
Thank you so much for all your support. I could never have imagined the patience this work would require and yet we are making progress together and our movement for custom-fit womenswear to create jobs in Princeton and beyond is growing.
Go, fight, win.