Nora Meets the Maker: Jennifer from Workroom Social
by Kollabora Follow

posted 8 years ago

My name is Jennifer, but you maybe know me as the person behind Camp Workroom Social, a 4-­day sewing retreat for adults, and the Brooklyn ­based sewing studio Workroom Social. My DIY weapons of choice are my sewing machines, fabric, scissors, and a video camera.

When I am looking for inspiration I love browsing fashion magazines, people watching in New York City, and walking around my neighborhood. A little bit of fresh air can help clear my mind and make room for new ideas. I also come up with some of the best concepts in the shower.

After a long day of making things I like to get together with friends over snacks and a cocktail. Happy hour is one of my favorite parts of the day. I love the ritual of ending the work day with a special treat in hand and friends to chat with.

I got started making when I was a kid. Drawing led me to paper crafts, which led me to model-building, then jewelry­ making, which eventually led me to sewing. When I think back to my childhood, I was always making something. Making is something I just loved doing.

The one thing that drives my creativity is the satisfaction I get after I’ve made something. I find it incredibly empowering to dream up an idea and then make that idea something real and tangible.

The best part about running my own business is that I get to create the experience I want to have as a customer for my customers. Being in control of my own business, I have the power to connect with my audience in a way that encourages every sewist to explore their creativity and to feel empowered to challenge themselves. I love that I get help my students know that every project they make is good simply because they made it, and with practice their sewing skills will only increase

I started my business because I wanted to be in control of my own career, and I wanted to offer sewists a new way to experience their hobby. I think sometimes adults can get hung up on making things that are perfect. We don’t like to mess up. I wanted to start a business to help sewists further develop their skills and make things well, but not necessarily perfectly.

My advice to anyone looking to start their own business is to figure out who your customers are, and to think like they think. It’s incredibly important to me that my staff and I treat every customer they way we would want to be treated by a company.

The most important thing I’ve learned from starting my own business is that not all of your ideas will work, but you won’t know unless you try them out. Running a business is not like going to school. Getting an F in a class, doesn’t mean you’re a failure. It’s been hard for me to embrace that, and I’m still working on it, but the best entrepreneurs are the ones who get right back up after they fall down. You’ve got to just try again.

If I didn’t run Workroom Social, I would love to be a summer camp director! But one of the best things about running my own business is that I can be both, and that’s one of the reasons I created Camp Workroom Social. Camp is almost sold out, so if you’re into sewing and love sleepaway camp, I hope you’ll join us for this amazing event!

My favorite word is “yes”! While I think it’s important to not overcommit ourselves, I try to have an adventurous outlook on life and say yes to the sometimes scary things

My least favorite phrase is “That won’t work because...” You won’t know until you try, and I’ve always learned something important by trying, regardless of the outcome. 

Making makes me feel accomplished. A lot of office jobs these days revolve around sending emails. I used to joke that my old career was as a “professional emailer,” and I never felt productive or accomplished as a professional emailer. Designing and sewing clothes reminds me that I have the ability to make beautiful things, and if I can you can too!

I can’t get enough of Snapchat! I am totally obsessed with Snapchat Stories. I love watching other people’s stories and snapping stories of my own (@workroomsocial). It’s such a change from the highly curated nature of Instagram

Three words that describe me are positive, friendly, and organized. I think it’s important to have fun, and I always want to create a joyful experience for my students and customers.

Three words that describe my work are playful, polished, and strong. Strong in a confidently feminine way. I think every day is an excuse to wear a dress. I do love my jeans too, though.

The best creative advice I ever received is to just keep making. You can’t get hung up on whether or not something is perfect. I believe you gain experience and you improve by practicing, not by obsessing over what you did wrong.

My go­to karaoke song is “Don't Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John & Kiki Dee. Watch me sing it at Camp Workroom Social! P.S. It’s a duet and I am still looking for a partner!

My next project is my independent sewing pattern line, Workroom Social Shuffle. Shuffle is a dress collection with one special feature that sets the line apart from other sewing patterns. Can you guess what it is by the name of the collection? I am finalizing the first 4 dresses now, and hope to have them out soon. I hope you’ll check out Workroom Social for updates.

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