So I bought a sewing factory makes a good title but the truther is that I bought a near perfectly sized industrial building and remodeled it to become a sewing factory. So how did it happen? Well, I was going along, thinking yet again about the dearth of sewing factories in New Mexico and how my business was stuck because I couldn’t really hire anybody to work at my shop at my house because it was at my house, and what or if I should do anything about it. So last winter, Mr. Fashion-Incubator and I decided we could use an investment and agreed to start looking for something. Calling that kind of energy into your life changes things. You start to put things in your life on hold and think in terms of “when I have the sewing factory” or “I can do x once I have the sewing factory” so while I was in no hurry to buy, I really kinda got that way quickly.
I had solid ideas of what I wanted -one must must must have a rectangle-which eliminated a lot of possibilities. It also had to be zoned industrial (M1) -you can’t do this in a retail space- and I didn’t want to pay for any retail amenities. I wanted something in the range of 5,000 square feet and ideally, a space that could be sublet. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Most small sewing factories are too small; there isn’t enough room for the cutting table they need. So going into this, my idea was to have the best cutting room ever (for a small place, 5Ksf is small) and share it among however many people sharing the building. We ended up with a cutting room that is 23 feet by 62 feet. We bought more tables to end up with 2, 48 foot long cutting tables. We have 3 sewing rooms so 2 other businesses could conceivably share the space. Meaning, a sewing contractor subsisting in a 1000 sqft space is very limited because their tables have to be short. What we did was set it up so each space only needs to handle sewing because we share the cutting room -since who in the heck (not us) needs that much table space (right now).
This property is actually two buildings. The larger building has the cutting room, my sewing room, the pattern room, two bathrooms (one has a shower), washer/dryer connections (for fabric testing, dontcha know) and storage. The back building is 2 sewing rooms. All told, just a hair under 5,000 square feet. Here is the floor plan:
Legend: #1 is an over head door (so is #7). #2 is the bath with the shower, #3 bathroom is large enough to be a changing room. #4 & #6 are utility (water heaters, heaters). #5 is the washer and a utility sink. #6 is a largish closet.
Speaking of, we did a lot of remodeling, this place was a cave -a former welding shop. The walls were painted dark grey, there were no windows or any of that. There was no insulation, heating or cooling to speak of. We put in sky lights, lots of them because really, you don’t want windows (no, you don’t. I’m not sure why but the day I figure it out, I’ll wax eloquent about it and pretend I knew all along).
[Edited July 7, 2015] Lynn Barnes emailed me with this comment:
You don’t want windows for two main reasons:
1. Light shifts as the day progresses, since the sun “travels” from east to west. Therefore, reliable daylight for illumination is best accomplished by skylights.
2. Burglars love to break in by window, not so much by skylight.
Okay, that’s enough for this post. I have another one to write and time is of the essence. Oh, and up top is Heather (my assistant) and her BF in sewing room #1 at the opening party we had on June 20th.