In my last post, I shared with you the story as to how my projects developed in the academic art world in Chicago, and then continued to grow into new areas of presentation when I took the art project I made to the runway in New Orleans. I also shared how the two world conflicted, and how at that time, I didn't know how to resolve it, so I took a leave from creating fashion collections.
Today, I want to pick up where I left off, and share the key takeaways that came to inspire me in new ways of operating in the profession of fashion design. I hope the lessons inspire and encourage you creatively too!
Back in 2013, when I went on my leave from Fair Fit clothing, suddenly I had so much free time on my hands to rethink my life. I was hit with the thought- I'm a person who had been given a huge investment of skills, wisdom, and expertise by a lot of really amazing people and teachers. It did not feel good to me to sit still, because when I wasn't working on creating clothing collections, I wasn't applying those investments and sharing them in the world any longer.
It felt anxious, because those skills are no longer being shared. And by not sharing them, I almost felt like a hoarder of concepts and skills that I had accumulated over the years.
And I really needed to fill my mind with new ideas and approaches, to help me through this next path in life. I no longer felt the drive to take a workshop or class to build craft skills, instead I desperately needed personal development and business skills to help me through the personal and professional limitations that were stopping me. While I would never, ever discount my years of training in art, craft, and fashion, if you don't do something with it, you really feel it. And boy I felt it.
By not creating clothes, I had eliminated the main way that I shared my work with the world. And all of those techniques, what was going to happen to them? I wasn't using them, I wanted to get into new territory. And I realized that critical relationship of giving and receiving.
What I realized, is that investment was super valuable and I needed to share it if I was going to receive the new information I was seeking. I was always being asked for internships, but internships aren't really a fair relationship. People were asking me how they could know what I know, and I needed to create a fair space for them to learn. I was not just assuming I should teach, I was being asked to teach, and that's an important distinction.
So I started Fair Fit Studio, by offering Beginner's Sewing and hanging up a poster in a coffee shop. One day, I was sewing in my studio and remembering the garment construction curriculum I had built for an art center while in school in Chicago. I thought, heck, why not offer my own classes here? I had nothing to lose, and I was new to Baton Rouge because I had just married my husband Paul and moved to BR to start our new life.
I recognized from emails and requests that people wanted to know what I know. Also, I wasn’t going into the university system, so I would need to create my own platform to share the skills. It had to be really fair in the exchange. If I was going to share what I had invested close to $75,000 of my own money to learn in the university system, and beyond that amount when I considered all the specialty skill workshops I attended, not to mention the 12 years of experience in the professional world, I had to be compensated. And I really learned why it's so important to charge an appropriate rate for the teachings, in order for both parties to retain and have the capacity to take action on what they have learned.
75% higher chance of success
The fairness in teaching comes in many ways. First of all, it lifted my spirits to start sharing the skills that captivated me and truly expanded my life in so many ways. If you have read the previous posts in this series, you can see that knowing how to sew, dye, pattern make, and critically think, gave me the opportunities to create businesses, meet amazing people, travel and show my work in London, Amsterdam, and NYC. I LOVE TO DO THIS.
And as I started teaching, I was, and still am, so grateful for each student who shows up because I get to share something I'm really excited about. I worked really hard and lead a pretty unconventional life with these skills. It's interesting to think about what another person might manifest with the same skills as they learn and grow in a creative practice.
Update - How I'm teaching now
Have you heard of my signature fashion design online courses, The Fair Fit Method? It's a series of courses designed to teach you intermediate to advanced fashion design skills like padding a form to your shape and size, fashion draping, pattern alteration, and adaptations for custom design. Enrollment happens only 3 times a year. If you would like to learn more about these courses and possibly take a class with me yourself go here to learn more:
Back to the story
As I shared the skills I used in my previous practice, which I still do today, its like making investments and planting seeds. If I just hold onto the things I know, and keep it to myself, it doesn't go anywhere. But if its a skill I've mastered, and am moving on to a new skill, then its a really great thing to plant that seed of skill in someone else so they can invest and run with it too. I hope I'm making sense. This process of planting the investment of training and skill in the right way is really important. It opened me up to master new skills and concepts that I needed in this new path of my own growth.
That's not to say I teach everything I know, sometimes, I'm keeping something for my own practice and invest it there until it is mastered and I'm ready to move on. I share this with you because if you give it all away, and focus only on one avenue of expression, then it's like cutting off your own supply.
That doesn't mean everyone should teach, or that I will always be a teacher. I'm just speaking to times when I have been asked, hey- what is it that you are doing and can you show me? If that feels right, then it's a good time to teach. But I strongly advise to wait for the ask, because if you aren't it could be a misuse of your valuable wisdom and energy.
Fairness is also created with an exchange too. If you pay for something, you are 75% more likely to really benefit from it. It's just a proven concept that even in this information saturated age, where you can get anything you want online. If you are somehow making a tangible investment, you are actually going to do something with what you are learning.
That's what I see in my own classes, or the business classes that I take, lots of folks go the free route to get started, myself included, until they can't find the next steps toward reaching their goals. As soon as you make an investment, you are going to do more with your learning because you feel the investment and exchange.
How does this relate to my name, Fair Fit?
I hope by now you can see, through many of these posts, that in the practice and development of my creative practice and business, and because fashion really deals with many people, that for me to be satisfied personally in this profession, I want to create "Fair Fits" between myself and other people.
And what happens with fit, sewing, and fair fashion in other parts of the professional sewing world? That's tricky.
When I started Fair Fit Studio and recognized the potential in growing as a teacher and creating an education platform, that took time. And I was still in debt from graduate school, and in my new business, I could definitely feel the drain. So I had to do more to start paying it off in the time when I was growing the classes and attracting a new audience.
So next, I became a contract tailor for custom sewing and high end alterations. I also became a contract seamstress for movies and television while the film industry was in Baton Rouge. For the first time, I experienced how people were more than willing to hire out my skills and I'll share with you what I learned, what the experience was like, and the new fair fashion philosophies I learned along the way.
See you next week!