Today we’d like to introduce you to Yolanda Jamison.
Yolanda, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I grew up in Mississippi with my grandparents and learned to sew by watching my grandmother whip up beautiful pieces. I don’t actually remember her sitting me down to teach me and yet I somehow figured it out and started making doll clothes at about age 8 and eventually my own. That’s how you know what your gift is!
I had dreams of being of fashion designer, however, I think I just didn’t have the courage to pursue it. I was raised to get a good job with good benefits.
All of my work careers has been in retail and ended with 10 years in the Robinson’s May buying office. Once I knew the company was closing, I figured this was the perfect opportunity for me to take a chance on myself. My husband and I had two young children and I wanted to be able to spend more time with them.
My first venture was Itsy Glitsy, a children’s clothing line. I made all of the clothing myself and my very first customer was Kourtney Kardashian’s store Smooch! I was eventually in up to 8 boutiques and it was just way more work than I wanted. It was defeating the purpose of me working from home. I needed to regroup.
I created Sew Contagious to share my love of sewing with kids.
Seven years later, we have sewing classes, sewing parties, afterschool enrichment, and Girl Scout workshops.
I must say it’s been lots of hard work but it has been amazing! I love making believers out of kids who think they could never sew. I love watching kids learn a new skill and seeing the pride on their faces when they complete their project.
Currently, I am working on creating online classes for kids with a few mom projects as well. My goal is to have that available by the end of September. Eventually, I would love to have a brick and mortar location, but I’ll see where life takes me. I’m just grateful I was able to take a skill passed on by my grandmother and turn it into a career I love.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
No, it has absolutely not been a smooth road! I struggled with working too much. I struggled with doing too much. I work at home so there’s endless laundry, dishes, cleaning, etc..
You have to set boundaries and you have to set office hours. Things will fluctuate a bit but you at least need a starting point.
You will feel overwhelmed because unless you can hire someone, you have to wear multiple hats. You are the creator, admin, tech support, marketing manager and so much more. I’ve had to learn so much and I am looking forward to hiring an assistant for all the technical stuff I’m not so good at.
Also, try to find a mentor. Find someone who is where you want to be, watch and learn from them.
Lastly and probably most importantly, take care of you! Make the time to exercise, eat better, get your nails done, a massage, whatever you need to relax and feel great because although this is the greatest job I’ve had, it’s also the hardest.
Please tell us about Sew Contagious.
My desire to keep alive the art of sewing. I want kids to put down their cell phones and create!
We travel to our customers for sewing classes, parties, afterschool enrichment, and Girl Scout workshops.
We bring all of the fabric, materials and even the sewing machines, I think I am most proud of creating a business with a skill passed on by my grandmother. I am also proud that I get to teach kids this lifelong skill. I’m proud that I help encourage them and help them to tap into their creative side.
Do you think there are structural or other barriers impeding the emergence of more female leaders?
I think trying to balance it all is the biggest barrier. The husband, kids, running a home all the while trying to create and maintain a successful business. I know for me I struggled with a lot of mom guilt, feeling like I had to keep it all running perfectly. I had to do everything.
I have learned to set boundaries, to delegate, to get help.
I have learned that our biggest barrier is us, what’s in our own mind!
- Girl Scout Workshops $25.00 per student
- 2-hour Sewing Class $60.00 per student
- Birthday Parties $425.00 and up
- Website: Sewcontagious.com
- Phone: 818-213-2246
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Instagram.com/sewcontagious
- Facebook: Facebook.com/sewcontagious
- Twitter: Twitter.com/sewcontagious
- Other: Pinterest.com/sewcontagious/