The Sew South Tampa Story
How did a Certified South Tampa Mom™ create Tampa's first and only sewing school for kids... And why?
Just a Little Backstory
What drove a radiation therapist of nearly two decades to risk everything, quit her job, and become a sewing teacher? The art of sewing was in her blood. Not in a nurtured way though, but through necessity. We'll skip over the nitty gritty but as a child money wasn't just tight, it simply was not there. Lori learned to sew so she could have clothes that were not thrifted and to make money. For her sewing wasn't just an "art" but a way to get by. Fast forward through the nitty gritty of growing up, going to school and starting a family, by 1996 she was beginning her career as a Radiation Therapist and raising her daughter, always staying active in the community either by means of church or her daughters school, volunteering as a Sunday school teacher or Girl Scout troop leader. She always had an subconscious obligation to teach the next generation the crucial life skills she learned growing up.
Realizing Her Dreams
In the age of fast fashion it is easy to forget there was a time when learning to sew was just as crucial as learning to cook (We miss you Home Ec). Buying your clothes is just a click away, sewing jobs are outsourced instead of local and we prefer quantity over quality. When Lori realized the skill of sewing was now a dying art, she was overcome by the need to bring it back to life, even if it meant sacrificing her own career for it. With no real plan in line other than an urgency to teach, in August 2014 she found herself scrambling together a few sewing machines and rented a room in an art studio, handing out flyers to anyone that would take them. She didn't know it at the time, but she was starting Tampa's only sewing school.
Over the Past (Almost) Five Years
By September of 2014, she had 4 students, which then grew to 10, then by December almost 30. She was teaching them to sew simple pillows, stuffed animals, accessories and clothes. By the end of the year her students had made an outfit... What else would they want to end the year with other than a fashion show? With the help of her daughter, Lori put on Sew South Tampa's inaugural fashion show. With over 100 family and friends of students attending the show, Lori knew she had found something. Over the past years classes and business continued to grow, she brought on the help of her daughter Rachel, and after four fashion shows and four moves the studio has found it's home on South Dale Mabry. Over the past years the studio has grown from 30 students to over 100 between classes, summer camps and workshops.
Now with almost five years of experience teaching sewing to children the mother/daughter duo have begun to develop a curriculum in order to spread their teaching method to young and hopeful designers and seamstresses around the world. Currently they have 50 students ages 7-14 attending weekly classes Monday- Thursday. In their free time they offer workshops for holidays, school breaks, and for local Girl Scout troops to earn their sewing badge.