Brittany J. Jones

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Episode Summary

On the heels of the 1st year anniversary of Melantated Fabrics, Brittany J. Jones talks with the Stitch Please podcast. Learn more about Brittany’s cross country move, Sew-in-30, the intricacies of transforming an online business into a brick and mortar enterprise. Brittany is a delightful and supportive sewing community member: tune in to see for yourself. Patreon Peeps get the video of our conversation (which has a bit of a jump scare at the end!)

Episode Notes

Support Black Women Stitch and the Stitch Please podcast. Pre-Order your Black Women Stitch 2022 Wall Calendar today.

Find out more about Brittany J Jones!

Instagram

Website/Blog

YouTube

On Creative Bug

Sew It Academy

Melanated Fabrics

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Lisa Woolfork 0:00

Hello friends. Before we begin this wonderful episode with Brittany J. Jones, [background music] I wanted to share a bit about this year's 2022 Black Women Stitch wall calendar. The Black Women Stitch 2022 wall calendar is bigger and Blacker than ever. Not only is the calendar about 15% larger than last year's calendar, it remains jam packed with Black women's history, sewing history, and activist history. There's also a new feature in this year's version, and that is the quarterly pattern release. At the beginning of every quarter, you'll find original images from Black women artists. These images are available as fusible appliqué patterns for PDF download, so that you can resize them to fit the needs of your project. Order your copy of the Black Women Stitch 2022 wall calendar from blackwomenstitch.bigcartel.com, and we'll help you get your stitch together. [Music swells and fades]

[Jazzy music and sewing machine sounds] Hello Stitchers. Welcome to Stitch Please, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing enthusiast, with more than 20 years of sewing experience. I am looking forward to today's conversation. So sit back, relax, and get ready to get your stitch together. [Music fades]

Hello everybody, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork. And I am joined today by one of the friendliest sewers on Beyoncé's internet. I would imagine that some could call her the Tabitha Brown of the sewing community. I've never met Brittany J. Jones in real life. I did have a wonderful real-life experience with Brittany that she might not even remember. But back in the day, I'm not sure when this was, when I started Black Women Stitch or either when I was Lisa Loves To Sew. I had this problem with these pants that had the smile at the crotch line. And I was like, 'What am I doing wrong? What am I doing?' And you messaged me, and you sent me photos of the pages in the book that I needed to fix the problem.

Brittany J. Jones 2:45

Oh, wow.

Lisa Woolfork 2:46

I was like, 'See, this is what a sewing sisterhood can do. This is why Instagram is one of the, like, happiest places in the sewing community, or something like that. So, this was someone who was, you know, super famous in my mind and just, like, had so many things going on, who took the time to send me some photos of pages in a book to fix a problem. And I was like, yeah, 'She's the real deal.' So welcome Brittany J. Jones to the podcast. Thank you for being here.

Brittany J. Jones 3:14

Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate the invite, and I'm excited to chat.

Lisa Woolfork 3:19

You began sewing in 2013, and you did so kind of as a reluctant sewer. Your mom had taught herself to sew and then she was--you would help her and do things. But you were not what one would say, enthusiastic about supporting your mother in her learning adventures to sewing. Tell us a bit about that, and about Brittany being a surly teenager. Like, I can't picture it, I cannot picture Brittany behind her momma's back cutting her eyes. Saying, 'I don't wanna serge this seam, I wanna go do something fun. I want to play my Nintendo with my friends.' I mean, I don't know. What was that like?

Brittany J. Jones 3:52

I wasn't that teenager. [Laughter] You know, I was trying to be cool. So let's just go shopping for me, mom. But it's so funny now when I think about my story is that my mom self-taught herself one day. She's like, she's going to the pawn store. She bought a machine. And she just started sewing. She still sews now. So I think it's so funny when I think back on my story is how, when she was sewing, I wasn't really into it. [Laughter] But then later on I started sewing. In 2013, I started to look at YouTube videos and I started to get inspired. At that time I believe we had two children, my husband and I, he was deployed. And I was depressed. I'm a true introvert. I stay in the house. I don't want to make friends. [Laughter] But needless to say, after a while I did start to see I was really depressed. So that was a different Brittany then. I mean, I wasn't always smiling. I was just in a really big rut. And I believe we just had our second son. So I did need some more clothing. And I remember my mom sewing. I was like, 'I seen Mom making--of course I can make a maxi skirt. You know, that’s just a rectangle. So I go on YouTube and I see one: Five minute maxi skirt, I loved it. And so in 2014, I said, 'Okay, let's buy my machine.' So I bought my machine, made a maxi skirt, I haven't stopped sewing since. I absolutely love it, and it just brings me joy. And it's something that's my own. So yeah, I just love it. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 5:16

I can see that. And you can see the joy in your work and the work that you do, the work that you share. And it feels like it's been some kind of, like, happiness landslide, because, like, when I think about 2014, which was not that long ago--that's seven years...

Brittany J. Jones 5:47

...Yeah...

Lisa Woolfork 5:32

...So now I am talking to you right now, in a store. Who'd have imagined seven years ago, somebody saying, 'Hey, Brittany, one day, you're going to be on a sewing podcast, not for the first time, by the way.' [Laughter] This is not the first sewing podcast you have been on. Right? So, but if someone told you in 2014, 'You'll be doing sewing podcasts, you're gonna have a library of videos of your own, you're going to have taught people sewing, you're going to have ambassador deals with sewing machine companies.' What would you say to that person who came from the future, from our time to tell you this when your husband was deployed?

Brittany J. Jones 6:05

I don't know, I would have been like, 'Okay, from your lips to God's ears. Let's let's do it, then.' [Laughter] I probably would have been a little doubtful, like, 'Okay, sure.' But I would've tried it, you know. I would have kept going and pressing forward and seeing what would happen. But I never thought this far, never. And it was always my prayer, I always say it, I think I've said it on a couple of podcasts previously, my one prayer was that I wanted to be at home with the children, doing something I love, bringing in the income. That's been my whole thing from the very beginning. And God has just blessed that. And I'm truly grateful, like, this is a dream, I didn't dream for myself, not because I didn't think I wasn't worthy of it. It's just, like, you don't think your own fabric store, like, 'Huh?' [Laughter]. So to be in this moment, is just amazing. I'm grateful.

Lisa Woolfork 6:53

And in addition to being able to sustain yourself, to sustain your energy, your capacity--because as an introvert, I know that you know that it's important to reserve your energy, and you're already giving so much energy as a wife and as a mother--to be able to sustain that energy within your home environment. Plus, financially sustain it.

Brittany J. Jones 7:18

Mm-hmm.

Lisa Woolfork 7:18

It's such a beautiful manifestation, you know, of the prayer that you had asked for. And at the time, not only are you good, right, and you're set and feeling good, you are also generating and giving beyond that, right? The sewing community, the maker community, is also able to benefit from you having your dream come true.

Brittany J. Jones 7:41

See, I don't even think like that. But thank you. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 7:45

This also makes you a possibility model. And that's another thing, it's very hard to become something you've never seen. And so the idea of seeing you say, 'You know what, I started in this one position, and that was really difficult. And now I'm elsewhere.' It's just really great. And one of the things I think about a lot in terms of how we talk about, like, service to others, and self-care, all these things, they say you cannot pour from an empty cup. And I think that too many women, at least for me, in my own experience as a Black woman that we're somehow expected to do that. We're all supposed to be pouring out all the time to everybody else. You do this and you're part of the sorority, you got your church service, you got this, you got that. In fact, you have to fill it up first. It's just like they said, 'You got to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping other people.' That's what--it becomes I think so important for projects like yours. And I think even for what we're doing in Black Women Stitch, it's very similar. It's like, 'Let's get this together so that we are good, whole, healthy. Then we can help people get there, too.'

Brittany J. Jones 7:45

Yes.

Lisa Woolfork 7:47

And that is something that you are doing. And as you have gone along, I've seen so much growth and development and deepening commitments. In terms of your energy, how have you, kind of, maintained a sense of consistency in all of the things that you are doing? How do you manage to do it, and not be depleted by the doing?

Brittany J. Jones 9:07

A lot of people see the smile, and I never want to portray that I got it all figured out or that I'm perfect, because that's totally not the case, I have my breakdowns, I have my moments. But I truly believe that I'm able to really center myself back, because I absolutely try my best to keep God first in everything that I'm trying to do. I feel like if I keep God first, then I'll be able to keep my strength and keep myself going. I can listen , and when I need to pull back, go a little harder when I can. And just--if I keep God first, I know that everything else will fall into place. So that's really what I try to do. I'm not perfect with it all the time. Sometimes I stress, sometimes I worry, sometimes I'm overwhelmed. But in those moments when I'm really close to the edge, I'm able to center myself and get back where I need to be. So that really helps me to keep the smile on my face, because I know that at some point I'm gonna be okay.

Lisa Woolfork 9:59

It seems to be a really important part of all the different things that you are doing. And I do want to talk about the Sew In 30, because I love that so much. But before we get to that, let's talk a little bit about how do you claim your time? How do you find ways to establish boundaries between work for the store, work for the blog, work for, like, all these different commitments that you have? Do you do something, like, do time chunk, like, you set timers for, 'I'll work on this for two hours? Or I'll work on this for 30 minutes?' Or do you farm things out? Do you get support for people? Like, I guess we're trying to figure out the secret of how to be you, but, like, the CliffsNotes version, or maybe the top five Brittany-isms?

Brittany J. Jones 10:42

I am big on time chunks. And I find it so funny, because my husband, he's kind of picked it up, too. And he's like, 'I'm just gonna do this in 30 minutes, like you were always talking about.' And I'm like, 'Oh, I didn't realize you even listened to...' [laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 10:54

It's like, you do hear what I talk. All right.

Brittany J. Jones 10:56

Oh, okay. But that's a really big part. Even here at the store, when I come in early, I still set my timer, because now that I've transitioned here, and we have the brick and mortar, my family just moved cross country. And it wasn't the plan for us to be building a home. [Laughter] We just knew, 'Oh, we'd find something, you know, we'll have our goods delivered 30 days max, I'm good to go.' My stuff is still in storage. I'm living out of suitcases at my in-laws. And I try and go back between my in-laws and my mom's. So it's still a lot, I'm not settled yet. So when I come to work, this is the only place that sewing machines are for me right now. So I'm always on the clock. I'm like, 'Okay, I have 30, 45 minutes, I need to sell something really quickly. And then I need to prepare and get the store ready to open.' Whether that's sweeping the floor, Faith comes in, and she tags the bags and rolling new fabric, because we call them dead bodies...

Lisa Woolfork 11:49

...Oh my gosh!...

Brittany J. Jones 11:49

...The fabrics, they are sometimes so heavy that they just break, because there's so much fabric. So we have to roll them and they just feel like logs. [Laughter] So, I come in and I reroll fabric. And in that time, I'm also doing other things, like now I've just started to vlog. So I'm trying to get content without actually doing the sew along. So I can still give my audience and my supporters something. And I just--that's been something I've been dealing with a lot of, I've been really hard on myself. [Laughter] Because it's like, I've totally changed the way I have to create now. I can't just sit and do a full sew along anymore. So I'm trying to think of ways to still be creative, and still support my audience, give them what they need, or just a behind the scenes peek. And that's been, like, the hardest thing. So I'm always also thinking about that and adding that into the schedule, like, 'Show something, do something, be present.' So I definitely work off time chunks: 30 minutes here, 45 minutes here. When I wake up and get the children off to school, I decided now to stay for an hour. So I work out 30 minutes there. And then I pray, again until the word, and then I get on the road and come to work, which I have an hour and 30 minute drive. I commute back and forth. It's a lot. It's a big adjustment. But working in time chunks has been gold for me. I love it.

Lisa Woolfork 12:19

It's like when you were in elementary school, at least for me, like, sometimes toward the end of the--you know, on a Wednesday, you're like, 'I am sick of this and sick of these people.' You watch the clock, it's like it would go backwards,

Brittany J. Jones 13:16

Right? It's like, 'Why are you still here?' [Laughter] But I feel so productive when I work in time chunks, 'cause I just don't sit and do the same thing all day. I am more so admin behind the scenes, the shipping and handling of our fabrics, Faith kind of takes on that role now. So I'm heavy on the computer. So I could get lost in doing something all day. But if I set a time chunk and I can get something done. Get that done. Get that done. I feel more productive. And I just love that.

Lisa Woolfork 13:45

And let me just say I was going through the website this morning. It is beautiful.

Brittany J. Jones 13:49

That is all Mimi. Mimi is absolutely amazing with designing the wardrobe. I mean, the website, she's amazing.

Lisa Woolfork 13:57

It's really responsive. I think it looks really nice. And the fabric [unknown]. Like you talked about doing a vlog. I really liked the video demos that you do both ways. And when you wave it around in a circle and put it, and I'm like, 'That's what we do when we trying to figure out if the fabric's going to be good or not.'

Brittany J. Jones 14:15

That was all Mimi's idea. When we first decided, we wanted to kind of make sure that we were giving what we wanted and what we really didn't see a lot of and so we were like, 'Okay, how do we want to photograph these products?' And Mimi said, 'It has to be a video,' and so we're just sticking with that. You can expect a video for every fabric on our website. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 14:34

And no, it must be a lot of work. I can only imagine, it's much harder to, kind of, take good video pictures, you know, take videos without interruptions. You might cough or something and...

Brittany J. Jones 14:44

...We have to take the sound off. If y'all heard the sound behind the video...[Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 14:49

I wish you had told me that trick, 'cause I'm just trying to learn how to do videos and...

Brittany J. Jones 14:54

...Hm-mmm...

Lisa Woolfork 14:54

...of the opinion--my friend, Queenora, Queenora Renee Fabrics, she has a custom fabric business. She was telling me about how those videos, where you got--you dropped something and it changes. Every time I see those videos I'm like, 'Oh witchcraft!' [laughter] and I'm like, 'This is what Queenora gets for having old friends.'

Brittany J. Jones 15:13

I love Queenora. She came into the store one day. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 15:17

'Show me how to do the Tick Tock' and she's like, 'Lisa, it's just called a TicTok.' And I'm like, 'You know the tickin-talkin?' Me soundin' like my mama, talking about the TicTokin' and the Net Flickin'....'

Brittany J. Jones 15:28

...The Snappin' and Chattin'...[Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 15:30

Absolutely, yeah, that. All that, give me the Snappin' and the Chattin' and the filtering and all of that.

You're listening to the Stitch Please podcast, and I'm talking today with Brittany J. Jones of Melanated Fabrics. When we come back, we'll hear more of what Brittany has to tell us about what it means to build a brick and mortar store. Stay tuned.

[Jazzy music] Black Women Stitch and the Stitch Please podcasts are happy to announce that we have another way to connect with our community. In addition to the IG lives that we do every Thursday at 3pm, we also now have a club on Clubhouse. That's right friends, the done messed up and given me the chance to have a club. [Trumpet fanfare] Follow Black Women Stitch on Instagram and now on Clubhouse, Thursdays at 3pm on Instagram and 3:45pm on Clubhouse, Eastern Standard Time, and we'll help you get your stitch together. [Music swells and fades]

Welcome back to the Stitch Please podcast. I'm your host, Lisa Woolfork, and we're talking today with Brittany J. Jones of Melanated Fabrics. I wanted to get back to the Sew In 30. That's one of the things that I really appreciate about the way that your creativity and your time management come together. Because sometimes people think, '30 minutes, that ain't nothing. Like, what's the point? You can't do anything in that time. I may as well--I'm not gonna bother. I'm just gonna--I need to wait until I have, like, five hours of free time on a weekday.' So tell me about how did you come up with that idea? And what has been some of the feedback around it?

Brittany J. Jones 17:13

Yes, well, it's funny, because [laughter] I just assumed everyone kind of knew. And that's one thing I want to encourage you, don't assume everyone knows something, to just share it and you'll be surprised. I had no idea Sew In 30 was even a thing. And when I did share about it, people reminded me that Ms. Nancy Zieman had books about it. And I was like, 'Really, I didn't even know?' Because I didn't grow up sewing during her time. And I'm like, 'How come y'all ain't shared this? [Laughter] This is groundbreaking for me.'

Lisa Woolfork 17:45

Those Nancy Zieman videos, they're from like from the 90s. And, like, they had taken one of her old shows, "Sewing With Nancy." I was in Wisconsin when she was doing that show. Back in the late 90s, she had tons of books, she had a weekly show on PBS. And it was like, "Sew in 15, 20"--all these different increments. But she's got some really good tips. So I'm hoping they might release that somehow.

Brittany J. Jones 18:06

I didn't know anything about that until after I shared it. So it came to the point where I would sit down and sew. I would make breakfast and I would sit and sew and it would be dinner and people, my children, would be like, 'What's for dinner?' And I'm like, 'What, I just made breakfast, what you talkin' about?' [Laughter] That became, like, a re-occurring theme. And I started to realize, 'Okay, you need to prioritize this. And you need to reprioritize the priorities.'

Lisa Woolfork 18:33

Go ahead and put feeding the children on the list, I guess, great. [Laughter]

Brittany J. Jones 18:37

So when I started to realize that I was just sitting there for hours and getting nothing done, as much as I love it, and I want to do it, I can't for my life. [Laughter] I had to accept that. And so I really started to focus on time management, that's when it really hit me. And so I started to set a timer and the timer wasn't for me to rush against the clock. It was just to remind me, 'Okay, you've done some sewing, let's take a break and move on to something else, like making dinner or running some errands or working out.' Whenever I set the timer, it's just to let me know, 'You've been creative, you made progress. Let's move on.' And that's the whole thing. I've had to switch my mind, because my whole thing, first, was I need to sit here and I need to finish this garment, right now. When that shift happened, I realized, 'Okay, I got my priorities kind of mixed up. I need to refocus.' I started to find enjoyment in just making progress.

Lisa Woolfork 19:30

I love that. I really do. I love this idea of committing to progress. Just doing a little bit, and that there's joy in the doing.

Brittany J. Jones 19:40

And I found that in patterns, it's already broken down. So when I realized that I was like, 'Wait, it says bodice. I can do that in 30 minutes. Wait, that says sleeve. I could do that in 30 minutes.' It just makes it so much easier for me and I'm more excited to sit down. Like, when I came in today I had 30 minutes. I set the timer. I record it so I can show it to my vlog. [Laughter] 'Cause I'm still thinking, you know, 'I got a double content now.' And yeah, I was able to fill the side seams, serge it, and the timer is now also not. So you could cheat steps, you just fall in love with the process and take your time. So I'm still serging my seams, I'm still doing all the thing to make a beautiful garment. I'm just making small progress at a time.

Lisa Woolfork 20:22

Yes. And at the end, the result is still the same.

Brittany J. Jones 20:25

It's still the same. And if you sew like me, you may have a garment finished every week, 'cause by Friday or Saturday, every week, you got something new done.

Lisa Woolfork 20:34

And I appreciate you, the way that you're thinking about when you're giving and creating these things, that you're also sharing the story of the creation. And I think that that is a really generous gift. Because I think that sometimes social media--I personally find it very overwhelming, very demanding--that can be draining.

Brittany J. Jones 20:55

Yeah. And I felt drained recently. I've been trying, like I said, with the transition, I'm trying to figure out how to create now, because I'm not the same creator I was in 2014. Actually 2016, when I started my blog and YouTube channel, I don't create the same no more, because I'm not a stay at home mom anymore. So my content has to shift, because that's where I am now. And so I'm trying to accept that, which I finally accepted it. It is what it is, this is where I am now. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 21:26

So it's a great place. Because where you are right now is a fruition of prayer. Where you are right now is where you wanted to be. I think I mentioned this in the comment that I made, I think you'd mentioned--about how the demands of social media. And this is something my friend told me, who's also Glitter Moonshine.

Brittany J. Jones 21:42

Oh, I love her. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 21:44

She's so awesome. She has helped me save my own life. And she's like, 'You belong to yourself, first. You belong.' And that is something that I practice, although I have to remind myself, because I--it sounds like similar to you. Like, I'm a giver, I'm a doer. And then when I'm exhausted, I'm like, 'I'm not doing a good job because I'm not doing.' Because I can't, because I'm on the floor in a puddle, and maybe it's somebody's time to come do for me. I think that social media gives us the opportunity to practice boundaries. And to [unknown] what is enough, because I tell you what, you are enough.

Brittany J. Jones 22:19

Thank you.

Lisa Woolfork 22:21

I'm serious, if you don't do another thing, if you leave this Zoom right now, hit end, and you're like, 'Deuces. [Laughter] Y'all didn't know this, but I done saved up some money and got me a nice solo cabin in Martinique. And that's where I'm living from now on. Outie.' You would have done...

Brittany J. Jones 22:39

...[laughter] That's so funny [laughter]...

Lisa Woolfork 22:43

True. Because it's this, you know, it's like you're giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, giving, give, that's not living either.

Brittany J. Jones 22:49

Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 22:50

It's like, the people gonna get what you choose to give 'em.

Brittany J. Jones 22:51

Social media is funny, and I'm learning a lot from it. And I'm evolving. And I like where God has me. And so I'm gonna just start creating the content for where I am. I pray my supporters stick around, but if not, I appreciate the support while you gave it. But I gotta roll with where God has me rolling. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 23:13

People who support you, support you.

Brittany J. Jones 23:16

Yes.

Lisa Woolfork 23:16

You're done. If you don't, then they can go on elsewhere. Because you don't need that energy. Right? I am not auditioning my humanity or anything for anybody. I'm and 100%--we did this really big Patreon drive. Because the thing that I've been doing with Black Women Stitch is, like, through Patreon individual support, because corporate support is kind of complicated for a Black led, Black liberation project. Some corporations don't want to deal with that. And I absolutely do not want to deal with them. So I'm just like, 'Hey, this is what we do. If you want to support it, we would really appreciate it. But guess what, you're not buying me. I'm going to do what I'm continuing to do. And I'm so grateful for all the support, I really am.' But however much money monthly people are giving is because they are in support of what I'm doing, because they believe in it. And they either believe in it or they don't believe in it. That's okay. And things change and people change I understand that. But I just would never want you to feel like you were somehow falling down on the job because you are growing.

Brittany J. Jones 24:17

It takes a minute for my mind to click. [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 24:20

And this is what people who support you want. We want you to change, we want you to challenge yourself, and challenge and--you know what I mean? So it's all love, it's all to the good and I just want you to keep leading and loving with your heart and anybody not on that vibe can get to steppin'. I'm also very good at dismissing people.

Brittany J. Jones 24:39

I like your smile was like 'Ting.' [Laughter]

Lisa Woolfork 24:42

So tell me about this fabric store, having a building that has doors and paint, and needs plumbing and electrical work and lawn mowing. I've not been to Georgia in, like, a really long time. So, since the pandemic and everything and so, I was really struggling to try to figure out like, 'Lisa, should you go buy a plane ticket to Atlanta? So you could go see the store in person?' Slightly. So you have not been anywhere ,not even to see your own mama in 18 months. First step gonna be going to a fabric store, that's not gonna to fly. So I was unable to participate in the grand opening because my travel was quite limited.

Brittany J. Jones 25:20

Right.

Lisa Woolfork 25:20

And like such a party, such a party. So talk about, like, the distance, like, in terms of, like, creating the idea of just saying, 'Okay, wait I've committed to this idea, I want to do it.' How do you find space? And how does all this work? If you're going to give somebody like a couple of tips on go ahead and open a brick and mortar store in 2021?

Brittany J. Jones 25:39

Well, Melanated Fabrics all started with literally a text message. The audience may not know, but Mimi G, we're amazing friends. I absolutely love her. She's my mentor. And so I reached out to her, because it's in 2020, June 2020, around a summer time, and I was like, I bought two bolts of fabric. I'm gonna start selling. [Laughter] She's like, at first, before I said, selling, I said I bought two foot bolts of fabric. She's like, 'Are you going to start making custom garments?' I said, 'No, I'm gonna start selling them.' So I sell fabric out of my garage. I got two bolts to start with. I literally ordered two bolts. [Laughter] And she said she had a similar idea. She's like, 'Let's do it together.' I was like, 'Together together?' She's like, 'Yeah, let's do it together.' I was like, 'Like me and you, 50-50?' She's like, [inaudible] 'Yes!'

Lisa Woolfork 26:24

Who I'm texting with, right? I just want to make sure this is the same Brittany J. Jones I'm texting that I know, in real life, and not some other one that I don't know.

Brittany J. Jones 26:31

Okay, so Mimi, I'm like, 'So, me and you, like?' She's like, 'Yes, let's do it.' I was like, 'Let's do it.' October 23, we launched online. And it's just been absolutely amazing. To have a partner who's, one passionate about sewing just as much as you are, who's, who is who they are, have their own amazing brand worldwide. It's just been absolutely amazing to work with Mimi to partner on this, to see a dream come true. Like I said, that I didn't even dream for myself. But it's just been absolutely amazing to experience this and work together, because I'm learning so much on the back end of running a business that I didn't know. And because I have a partner in Mimi, she knows the thing that I don't know. [Laughter]

So it's just been, again, absolutely amazing. And so we were based out of San Diego. Being a military family, that's where I was stationed at at the time. I took over all the customer service, all the orders. And so it was really hard. Actually, when we launched the 23rd, I had a tragedy, I lost my dad on the 26th. So I had to leave and fly away and Mimi was actually coming into town. It's just amazing how God works things out. And that, like, we didn't even know that. And so having that partner, I haven't been away from Melanated, since--I think that's the only time I've been away. But it's just been, again, amazing to have her as a partner, to see the growth. And it's like we fell into our roles naturally. Mimi built the site in, like, two days. [Laughter] I like when she does this magic is happening. [Laughter] Built the website in, like, two days, I took over the customer service, because I just, I love customers, you know, I just love it. I love engaging with supporters. And so we just grew the business, we have what we call an E-commerce storage. So it was a storage unit that had like a separate room for office. That's where Melanated Fabric was. [Laughter] And we have, like, the before and after pictures on the website of where we started. We really started from humble beginnings, and we just made it work. We worked hard. Mimi and Norris would fly out, get orders out, photograph--photographing, y'all, we used to take pictures outside.

Lisa Woolfork 26:48

Okay.

Brittany J. Jones 28:13

We were taking photos and doing the videos outside. So we could get ya'll the truist light.

Lisa Woolfork 28:49

Oh, that's a lot of natural light.

Brittany J. Jones 28:50

Right. So to be here in this space, and again, we packed up everything. I think we packed up in June. Norris drove across country in, like, a day, which was insane. Partner was out here looking, found the perfect location. So she was going around, and Partner already had kind of the idea in mind. So the design of the space is all Mimi. I just knew we were going to have fabric, [laughter] a sewing center, but the vision, and how it decorated and came all together, that was all Mimi and it's absolutely perfect. Our goal for it though, was to have a space that wasn't like any other fabric store.

Lisa Woolfork 29:28

I really love how in making the commitment to a brick and mortar store, you were also making a commitment to your dream.

Brittany J. Jones 29:39

A dream that I didn't even dream for myself. It's amazing. I love it. I love it here. We're able to come here and just be creative, work in the same space, because it was a lot. Mimi was in Georgia. I was in California. So we're running a business and we can't put our creative brains together. Now that we can sync our brains together, it's just been amazing to have the whole team here. It's been everything. So yeah.

Lisa Woolfork 30:02

It is so exciting. I've just loved watching the flourishing. It's just been so wonderful to see the growth and the development and to have another place to shop, to have another woman owned and POC owned business, and just the all of it, is just wonderful, really. True congratulations to you.

Brittany J. Jones 30:23

Thank you.

Lisa Woolfork 30:23

If you could think of a one thing you're excited about for the end of 2021. Do you have something that you're, like, maybe it's a secret and you can't share it yet. But is it something you're, like, really looking forward to closing out the year?

Brittany J. Jones 30:35

Yes, my house. [Laughter] It should be done. Definitely by end of 2021. And if you're following me on social, I'm doing all types of updates, because I'm so excited. [Laughter] I'm driving by there every minute I can. But that is the one thing I'm most excited about. Get the house to finally be settled. That'd be the final piece to this transition puzzle.

Lisa Woolfork 30:59

It's so exciting. And I wish you so much joy and success and ease in all of it, ease with the house building, ease with the creative reuse space, and all of the things that you all are doing. Just congratulations on all of it.

Brittany J. Jones 31:15

Thank you so much.

Lisa Woolfork 31:17

[Jazzy music] You've been listening to the Stitch Please podcast, the official podcast of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black lives matter. We appreciate you supporting us by listening to the podcast. If you'd like to reach out to us with questions, you can contact us at blackwomenstitch@gmail.com. If you'd like to support us financially, you can do that by supporting us on Patreon, p-a-t-r-e-o-n, and you can find Black Women Stitch there in the Patreon directory. And for as little as $2 a month you can help support the project with things like editing, transcripts, and other things to strengthen the podcast. And finally, if financial support is not something you can do right now, you can really, really help the podcast by rating it and reviewing it anywhere you listen to podcasts that allows you to review them. So I know that not all podcast directories or services allow for reviews. But for those who do, for those that have, like, a star rating, or just ask for a few comments, if you could share those comments and say nice things about us and the Stitch Please podcast, that is incredibly helpful. Thank you so much. Come back next week and we'll help you get your stitch together. [Music fades]

Hosted by Lisa Woolfork

Lisa is a fourth-generation sewing enthusiast who learned to sew while earning a PhD in African American literature and culture. She has been sewing for more than twenty years while also teaching, researching, and publishing in Black American literature and culture.

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