Hunger (yet another lousy title)

I had to leave early yesterday to get ready for our semi-annual meeting of the advisory committee meeting of the El Paso Community College Apparel Industry program. I don’t know if you’ll ever have the opportunity to serve your community in this way but I’d encourage it.

The impression I get from these meetings, is that everyone is hungry. They -we- hunger for connection. I don’t know about your area but there aren’t any opportunities for garmentos in the hinterlands to get together. Anyway, every fall meeting opens with the nomination and voting for the committee chairman. I’ve never volunteered but this time on the hour long drive there, I decided to take some initiative. So, as soon as the meeting opened and the matter came up, I -rather comically- waved both arms in the air and said “I nominate me”! There were several laughs, “that’s a good idea”s and three voices in unison seconding the motion. It was a slam dunk. I annihilated the non-existent competition winning the election handily, no need to go into my rehearsed stump speech. Yeah me!

As with any politician, I have my own agenda. I’ll share the outlines of my nefarious plot with the hope it will spread insidiously elsewhere. The goal is to create some semblance of community outside of the college which would ultimately benefit the entire chain from entrepreneurs to students (everything is circuitous). The problem with a lot of people who are likewise hungry for real life peer connection, is that they (we) don’t feel it’s our place to step out and do something. Who are we? We’re not leaders of anything or experts or own the biggest company in town or nothing. Well, a process of elimination shows that owing to the solidity of my nebulous position as committee chair, I just happen to be the only duly elected head of anything apparel industry related in the area. In keeping with the dignity vapor of my new position, I plan to springboard that into a position in the community and collect as many names of contractors, service providers, manufacturers and suppliers in the area as is possible. Then we’ll schedule a casual social event. Maybe no one will come? It won’t kill me. If no one’s there, I won’t lose face in front of anyone.

One of the key goals -which anyone can do- is to put up a web page of local sewing related businesses. There’s tons of people who do contract sewing around here and none of you know about them. Frankly, I wouldn’t make jeans anywhere but here. People are doing it in LA at twice or three times the price. There probably are people in your area too. I don’t see why someone with a bit of initiative couldn’t put up some kind of bare bones page and list resources useful to entrepreneurs and contractors alike for their areas. It seems like the only people motivated to put up resource sites do it as a business. And not that there’s a problem with that, not at all, but anyone can do it. It doesn’t have to be a complex time consuming affair. I may charge ten or twenty dollars to cover the admin cost of adding someone’s contact info to the site but I intend it to be bare bones which is better than what we have now. If it goes somewhere and somebody wants to better it, I’ll be delighted to pass it off into more capable hands.

The issue is, most of the good contractors I know don’t have web pages. There’s no way for the new generation of entrepreneurs to find them. Long story short, that’s what I did most of today.

If you decide to take up a similar project in your area, I’ll be happy to link to it and I’ll be sure to notify you when the El Paso & New Mexico Garment Manufacturing & Apparel Industry Resource directory is ready.

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  1. April Femrite says:

    Hurray for you Kathleen – you go girl!

    I find the same frustrations. You know local people are out there that need the work and money (contractors, suppliers, service providers), but there is no good way to get everyone linked together. I mostly find out about things through word of mouth. I think I shall contact some Minnesota government agencies to see if they have some type of sewing manufacturing database or if they can create one. In these times right now, you would think that each state, county or city would encourage unity to support local organizations and try making the information more accessible.

    Btw – I will give you a ring tomorrow – today was crazy – my 2 year old was in day surgery for knocking out his front tooth. I honestly don’t know if I wanted to deal with that today or another day in the life as an apparel manufacturer……..

  2. Rosalee says:

    I have heard there is a large manufacturing community in El Paso and I would be interested in learning about the various sewing contractors available, thanks for undertaking this effort.

  3. Mary Lombard says:

    I’ve been thinking of something like this for a good while, not so much as a contractor resource but as a networking/support group for OC garmentos and techs.

  4. Leslie Y. says:

    While you’re working on the website, why don’t you start with creating a Google Map of all sewing contractors in El Paso? That’ll show how many of you there are, and it’s easy access for folks shopping around for one.

    I made a color-coded one of crafty spots in San Francisco, it’s pretty easy. You can also have collaborators add to the map if you like. You just need a Gmail/Google account to set one up.,-122.436447&spn=0.162913,0.239296&z=12

  5. Great idea Kathleen! The list that I PAID for (and was luckily credited back) is no where I list I HAVE that I put together in my search for a sewing contractor, suppliers, etc.

    My only reservation of doing the same if I’d hate to list shoddy companies, KWIM? Unfortunately, there is not enough time in my day to visit each. Wait…the NYC Fashion District has a database, but not all of them are good companies and would you believe they only had 3 contractors in Queens when I asked the person doing the database searches to find me all the childrenswear sewing manufacturers in the NYC area. At least I know better now and realize many sewing shops can do children..LOL

  6. Lisa B. in Portland says:

    I’ve seen on occasionally people asking for the contact info of contractors and seamstresses so they can put them on a free database, but I never joined or bookmarked it, unfortunately. Look in relevant creative-type categories.

    You know how they have shows/conventions/whatever with seminars for quilters and home sewers (like there’s a huge one in Puyallup, WA)? And groups like the custom clothiers associations probably have similar. Are there any for people who are DE’s/seamstresses/tailors (not home sewers)?

  7. Rachel D.E. says:

    It might also, be worth while to check with local theatre professional and university level (costumes). They are usually really good about keeping this type of information, and may have something to add, also some universities art departments also might have this information in their sculptural arts programs.

  8. Leslie Hanes says:

    There is certain limited wage subsidies available in Canada for businesses to hire recent univerity or college grads, for work in fashion or apparel. This might be a good job for someone to do, using the assisted funded program to help, and possibly offset the balance of the cost by selling the list at minimal cost. I’m kind of thinking out loud, and while I don’t have the time to do this, and I have absolutely zero computer skills…I’m sure there would be someone who might. .. hmmmm

    The issue is…each person knows of a “few” contacts. How do we network that info? Maybe if we created a database that we were all able to add to, and could also send out emails to our contacts asking them to do the same. As for putting the good ones and skipping the bad ones, there could be a rating system by customers.

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