Building an Organic Platform with That’s Sew Monica

0.75x 1x 1.25x 1.5x 2x 0:0001:06:55 Building an Organic Platform with That’s Sew Monica


Episode Summary

Lisa talks with Monica from THAT’S SEW MONICA. Based in Dallas, Texas, Monica is a hilarious, kind, and down-to-Earth sew-lebrity! She and Lisa chat about building a digital platform while remaining true to yourself. We also discuss her amazing projects SEW YOUR VIEW and PROJECT SEW. Tune in to hear how Monica promotes the fun and creativity of sewing and learn what she’s up to next.

Episode Notes

Mentioned in the episode

That’s Sew Monica on  Instagram and her website

Sew Your View

Project Sew




Stitched With Style

Sewing My Style

Plano ASG

SEWN Magazine

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Read Full Transcript

[00:00:00] Lisa Woolfork: Hello, stitchers. Welcome to stitch, please. The official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. I'm your host Lisa woo fork. 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.[00:01:00]
[00:01:01] Lisa Woolfork: All right. Hello, everybody. Welcome back to the stitch, please podcast the official podcast of black women's stitch. And let me tell you something. When I say this is a treat, it absolutely is. I am on the, I am on the podcast today with Monica from that. So Monica, um, I, Monica came to my attention years ago with her project sew project, which I just really loved as a way to kind of generate sewing community.
[00:01:32] Lisa Woolfork: She's also doing these wonderful, um, sew, your view for these different pattern looks and I've participated in quite a few of those, and it's just a great delight to see the work that she produces. And I'm super glad that she's here on the podcast today. Monica. Welcome.
[00:01:50] Monica: Welcome. Thank you. Thank you, Lisa.
[00:01:53] Monica: Thank you. Sorority sister for having me .
[00:01:55] Lisa Woolfork: Yes, that's right. Um, so I am, I [00:02:00] wanted to get started by asking you, how did you get started? How did you get started on your sewing journey and what made you decide to not just sew these looks for yourself, but also to promote them and to post about them in social media.
[00:02:16] Monica: Oh, okay. Great. Well, okay. So my journey with sewing is a little interesting. Um, and, uh, so I started about, it's been almost six, seven years now. I believe, I, I don't know, I'm not counting, but it feels like it's short, but it is going, you know, it's been a few years and, um, I started it out of the love because I wanted to honor my mom.
[00:02:39] Monica: She passed away. It's going on about 17, 18 years. And, um, from brain cancer. And she sold, my grandmother sold my aunts. I have uncles that sew. So growing up, um, in Ghana, west Africa, where my family is from, they all sew. So that was kind of like innate [00:03:00] in our, in our genes to say if that makes any sense, you know?
[00:03:04] Monica: Um, yes.
[00:03:05] Lisa Woolfork: It's a family tradition.
[00:03:07] Monica: Yes. And it's sort of like, you know, you learned sewing in school. That's part of vocational learning in Ghana and most of the women and the men, if they want to take up that trade, they do sewing. So I wanted to connect with her. It had been 10 years and it was mother's day.
[00:03:23] Monica: And for some reason I just felt. I hadn't felt her around if that makes any sense, you know, every now and then I see some clients, but I just didn't feel her around. And I wanted to find a way that I can connect with her. And I love sew. I know she loved it. I used to always design and draw sketches of clothes and have her make them for me and my sister or even family members when I was growing up.
[00:03:48] Monica: So I transitioned the designing and the sketching and the love of fashion into actually going and taking a six week, uh, sewing class with the local [00:04:00] American sewing Guild. Um, we, it was called a Plano Plano ag. And . I was a little ambitious girl. I said, my, you
[00:04:10] Lisa Woolfork: don't say I have met you. So I do know you were probably a little bit ambitious so what was your first thing that you did with the Plano ASG for this class?
[00:04:20] Monica: So we, okay. The first first thing I had to do was we had to learn how to sew with the paper, you know, doing the lines, but I'm gonna tell you what my project was. Um, so we did the lines and we transitioned to pillowcase and then a bag. And then they said, okay, what's everyone's project. And I said, well, I'm making a tool, skirt.
[00:04:38] Monica: I love sex in the city. I think, uh, I think it tool skirt is gonna be awesome. And they were. Tool skirt first project I sent. Yes, I got this. We got it. So
[00:04:52] Lisa Woolfork: I Google, I so excited to hear how your very first major project, well, your very first project beyond sew [00:05:00] straight lines in a tote bag was like, you know, skirt.
[00:05:03] Lisa Woolfork: How hard could that be? Let me tell
[00:05:05] Lisa Woolfork: you they changed the rules after
[00:05:06] Lisa Woolfork: I left at six
[00:05:08] Monica: weeks. you can't do any tool skirts for your first project, but, um, it was blood, sweat, and tears. And I will tell you that at one point I wanted to give up. So I purchased yards of fabric of, of tool. And then, you know, the,
[00:05:24] Lisa Woolfork: how many, how many yards did you say you purchased for it?
[00:05:27] Lisa Woolfork: 15. It was oh, 15
[00:05:30] Monica: yards. Yes, 15. And we were, we had just moved to, we were, we were living in Texas. We didn't have, we didn't purchase our house yet. Cuz we were still deciding what area we wanted to live. So I was in an apartment, so I have the school and it's like laid out from the kids' bedroom down to the living room, down into my bedroom, out like a window.
[00:05:50] Monica: Wow. Get it straight. And you have to gather it. So lucky thing for my own sewing instructor, Marita, she was like, girl, you are not going to [00:06:00] gather. By hand, we're not going to, you know, we can't do that. Cause I was trying, at first I did the stitches and then I started pulling and then it would pop and she's like, no, we're gonna gather it on, on the, on the surge.
[00:06:12] Monica: This is what we're going. We're gonna do, that's going to help you a little bit. But for the most part, majority of it, I had gathered by hand and it took days and they kept popping. I kept having to go by, oh girl, I was crying. I was like, I can't do this. This is ridiculous. Oh, I hated. Um, so then we get to the part, the tool is then we have to go to her house.
[00:06:35] Monica: So every Tuesday it was two days a week, um, from six to eight. So Tuesday, and I think Tuesday and Thursday or Tuesday and Wednesday, when we met at her house, I have all this tool coming out the car and we it's six of us sitting, oh my everybody else is so sensible stuff. Oh, they want to do . Their first project is, you know, a simple, uh, not even a blazer, but a simple, like cover up, you know?[00:07:00]
[00:07:00] Monica: And I have this tool
[00:07:02] Lisa Woolfork: AU AU is nice. People love
[00:07:05] Monica: muu. Yes. I love muu and I should have just stuck with theu. Right. Something's I finished my skirt with the help of Marquia. Um, I didn't have a surgery at the time, so she was able to let me use hers. And then she showed me some tips and, you know, we got it working and she was like, oh my goodness, this was a first for her, but I still have that skirt.
[00:07:26] Monica: Um, I still wear it every now and then it has ripped because, you know, um, I'm an event planner, so I'm walking across the stage and around it got caught to something of the stage and a rip, but I still wear, I still rock my skirt girl Halloween. I pull out that black skirt and I, oh my gosh. But it was a very, um, it was a very trying to cuz I was like, oh my God, why would I choose this?
[00:07:49] Monica: But I was, no, you, if you want to make something, you have to go all for it. You shouldn't be shy to not. So that kind of spearheaded me and like, oh, if I can accomplish [00:08:00] this, I can accomplish other things, you know? So that's kind of how, that's what I love. Yeah. So that's kind of how I got started with, um, with my journey in regards to that.
[00:08:12] Monica: But to answer your second part of your question, like how I promote on Instagram, I wasn't even, uh, that, so Monica at the time I was my regular name on Instagram, my personal private account. And, you know, I would post for my friends and my family and, you know, you get the off, oh, can you make me that? I'm like, girl of all you knew
[00:08:30] Lisa Woolfork: no, but it's like, I love you, but I love myself more.
[00:08:34] Lisa Woolfork: So that's gonna be a no,
[00:08:36] Monica: exactly. And um, then for, for some reason, I, I said to myself, I said, you know, I need to create something that I want to share my sewing journey with and not where it's my personal page, where I have my kids, my family, you know, my college friends, sorority life, but something that is sewing related.
[00:08:55] Monica: And that's why I had created, uh, that. So Monica. And, um, came up with [00:09:00] that name, but there seems to be a lot of that. So, so it just fit it was a few names and that one just fit me and, um, I I'm enjoying
[00:09:08] Lisa Woolfork: it. it's really fantastic. And what I appreciate so much Monica, about your story of your very first project.
[00:09:17] Lisa Woolfork: Isn't just the ambition of the project. It's your determination and focus. There is no way on the Lord's green earth that I would have ever said. I am going to gather 15 yards of tool. In any way, let alone with that horrible method of sewing two parallel lines and pulling the Bob and threads and hoping.
[00:09:43] Lisa Woolfork: And then you send your thoughts and prayers in there to see how that'll help pull the strings. I mean, once I, I think once I saw it all laid out from the kid bedroom all the way to like the front door of the house, I would've been. Mm, you know what? I'm gonna [00:10:00] make mess off a bigger coat bag for my next project.
[00:10:02] Lisa Woolfork: That is so ambitious and what I, but it also shows your passion and your love of sewing and like your, um, commitment to sewing as a way to continue your family tradition, your DNA, and to honor your mother. And so there's this really beautiful part of that story that talks about the, the, you know, fortitude, as we say, right, the fortitude to persist, you know, which I think is really beautiful and we can all learn from that.
[00:10:35] Lisa Woolfork: So thank you for sharing that. Thank you. I'm getting
[00:10:38] Monica: goosebumps thinking about everything now. Wow.
[00:10:42] Lisa Woolfork: it really, it's just beautiful. It's really just beautiful. I think it's one thing to pick something that's hard and difficult. Um, it's another thing to picks something that's hard and difficult that you love both from an aesthetic point of view, but also like from a ancestral and spiritual point of view.
[00:10:57] Lisa Woolfork: And that's what your story at least says to me. [00:11:00] Yeah. So that's fantastic. Definitely. My mom. And so you've been sewing for six years. How six or seven years, how long have you had the, that, so Monica account.
[00:11:10] Monica: So, you know what, I gotta go back to be honest with you. I think I started it at least a year into me sewing.
[00:11:19] Monica: So I would say about 5 20, 15, 20 16. So about five years or so I think. I'm trying to, I'm scrolling all the way back. You know, I kept all my stuff on my page. um, yes. So, uh, yeah, I think, yeah, about, about that time, because it was a slow journey, you know, I would post and, you know, have one or two likes and I just post my little quotes and all my, I just go, I didn't care.
[00:11:49] Monica: I just posted whatever I was filming, whatever was on my mind. So related I posted it, you know? And, um, yeah. And I honestly, I'm trying to go [00:12:00] back. So as we're talking, if you keep asking question, I will get that answer to you. I'm scrolling
[00:12:08] Monica: December, 2015, DEC. Uh, no, I'm sorry. Wow. 4 20 15. Yeah.
[00:12:15] Lisa Woolfork: October,
[00:12:15] Monica: 2015. Yeah, it was the first time I posted and I posted this green, uh, this green on Carter print skirt, and I had made a, a Lepar print clutch bag. And, um, yep. I see it right here. October 3rd, 2015, that I had 20 lights. Yes, yes. To those 20
[00:12:33] Lisa Woolfork: lights.
[00:12:36] Lisa Woolfork: yes. Oh my gosh. So I know, I wanna talk, I wanna take, we're gonna take a little bit of a break for the quick y'all, but when we come back, I wanna talk to Monica about how does she imagine the success of her growth? And it's actually been less than five years because right now we're in 2020, and we haven't even gotten close to October, [00:13:00] 2020.
[00:13:00] Lisa Woolfork: So you are about to get to your five year anniversary on Instagram. So when we come back, we're gonna talk more with Monica about the rise of her social media and beautiful influencing work that she does on Instagram. Stay tuned.
[00:13:18] Lisa Woolfork: Here at stitch, please. The official podcast of black women's stitch. We talk a lot about sewing, but if you want to see and not just hear about some of the things we've been discussing, feel free to join us on the socials. You can find us at stitch, please on Facebook, and you can also find us on Instagram at black women's stitch.
[00:13:42] Lisa Woolfork: You can find photos of projects that we've been working on. Really interesting social commentary and on Thursdays at 3:00 PM Eastern standard time, you can join black women's stitch for a live Instagram chat. Again, that's every Thursday at 3:00 PM. [00:14:00] So find us on the socials. Follow up with us. We are happy to hear your direct messages. You can reach out to us at the black woman's stitch page on Instagram, and we'll help you get your stitch together.
[00:14:17] Lisa Woolfork: Okay. So thanks everybody. We are back. And we are talking with that. So Monica who lives in Dallas, Texas, she's an event planner. She's a sewing influencer. She is one of the sweetest people. Um, and she's like a, I, I consider you a down to earth. Celebrity. Oh my, I do. I mean, I think that some, I, I really do.
[00:14:40] Lisa Woolfork: You are just so real and so down to earth and, um, we're gonna talk a little bit later in the program about your project. So, but I wanna talk about, what do you think, um, you would attribute the rise of your page. Like right now you're over 10,000. Um, you're like, I guess is that what's called like a verified Instagram [00:15:00] account or something when you get 10,000 followers or something like that.
[00:15:04] Monica: Let me say something .
[00:15:06] Monica: So first let me address the, okay. So I consider myself a regular girl from the Bronx. B would say, um, and, uh, I will say this, that when I got to 10,000, which was unbelievable to me, um, you get this feature where you can. Swipe up now, so I will be swiping up and I usually put it in, like, if I wanna, even for your page, you know, to promote you, I swipe, I say, Hey guys, go follow a friend or swipe up to learn more information about what's going on on this friend's page.
[00:15:37] Monica: And that's what I've used it for, but I'm not as consistent as some people I don't, I don't take the social media thing so seriously. And I know that's like, oh my God, really? Um, I don't. So I don't, I, I will say what attributed to me was organic. Just being myself, being organic. Yes. [00:16:00] Just truly, truly, truly just being me.
[00:16:02] Monica: Um, consistency is important. And when I say I'm not consistent, I'm not posting every day, 10 times a day. I'm not, you know, studying analytics. I'm not, you know, looking at okay, what people like and then say, okay, then I need to do this. It's kind of like, this is what I make. This is what I have time. This is what I'm going to post.
[00:16:22] Monica: I'm really big on engagement. and I'm, mm-hmm to support. So for the most part, I may not post anything in a week, but you will see my presence on social media because I am on other people's pages. Mm-hmm , I'm reposting other people's things. I am commenting back on everyone that I'm able to see and comment.
[00:16:43] Monica: And I think that to me, that helped to attribute to my growth. That's what I. You know, because it was like, Hey, I, I wanna meet. Look when I met you, Lisa, I was, you had me crying in tears, like, oh my God know. Um, and then just [00:17:00] meeting different people. So I, I, you know, I'm sorry. I'm like all over the place.
[00:17:04] Monica: You may have to answer. Ask that question again.
[00:17:06] Lisa Woolfork: Well, now you have to tell me, what did I do to make me cry? Those tears. I'm excited now. I'm like, oh my gosh, what did I do? Did I, did I punch her in the eye? What did I do?
[00:17:15] Monica: you punch me in? So guys, Lisa is awesome. So when she came, how attention driven Lisa is, if you don't know that by now, like she pays attention to everything.
[00:17:26] Monica: So I have, um, I was doing these little quotes on Instagram. See it, so it's lay it. And she decided, and I was talking about getting it. I got a heat press and sublimation, and she's watched my stories and I would say this. And then I kind of put the cricket down, put the heat, press down. Everything's got in the box.
[00:17:43] Monica: So when she came to visit, she's like, I have something for you. And I'm like, hell, oh my God, what does she have? So I go ahead and I open the box and I take off the nice paper and everything. And I pull out this mug. I can see it right now. I'm just staring at it. And I turned, I opened the mug and I look and it's like, it says, [00:18:00] see it.
[00:18:00] Monica: So it's slay it. And I'm like, oh my God. And then I turned it down. And then it's one of my favorite pictures that I, that my daughter took of me wearing this red hat and this lace, um, this, uh, not lace top, but this floral top that I had made and I just started like, oh my God, the picture's on my page. And I was just like, it was just so thoughtful that not only do you know, I knew you, I know you on social media, but then to meet you in person, you were so sweet.
[00:18:29] Monica: So genuine, just so nice. And then you thought to get me something you didn't have to do that, you know? So that just, it was just special. So it was a, it was tears of joy. It wasn't a negative take. It was, it was tears, joy and appreciation, you know? So I just wanted to say that I cherish that cup. Like it sits on my mantle in the sewing room and I change it to side to side.
[00:18:50] Monica: And I always think about you, Lisa.
[00:18:52] Lisa Woolfork: So. Oh, thank you. That is so sweet. Well, that was the thing that I was hoping to do was to show you, I was like, [00:19:00] you need to get that sublimation machine out of the box. It's just a printer. Don't be afraid. It's, it's a printer. What can go wrong? You know? And so like, I made this cup for you.
[00:19:08] Lisa Woolfork: Cause I was like, I wanted you to know that you could totally do it. Yeah. And I, I know you have so many other things going on, but like I, I'm gonna talk about project. So in a little bit, but one of the things I love about your story about your Instagram growth mm-hmm is that your, the point of your platform is not Instagram growth.
[00:19:28] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. The point of your platform seems to me, and this is why I resonate with you so much. Mm-hmm is because you care about community. Yes. And you, that is what it's basically, Instagram is a tool. To build community. Yes, definitely. It's a tool to share. So it's not about, you know, like boosting your profile and making sure that everybody is listening to you and all of that, it really is about, it's just, it's a means to an end.
[00:19:59] Lisa Woolfork: Yeah. [00:20:00] It is not an end in and of itself. And that's why I think, you know, Like, if you say, like you say, you describe yourself as a regular regular girl from the Bronx mm-hmm , you know, and this is what people are interested in. You don't have to have a life that is totally curated. Yeah. You don't have to have a, this idea that your page has to look a certain way in order to, to build momentum and all that.
[00:20:22] Lisa Woolfork: And so I think that that to me, and I do look at analytics because I have a podcast now, but like, I look at analytics because I'm just curious and excited, you know? And every person that listens to this podcast makes me really excited and grateful that they've done that, but it's not something I'm monetizing.
[00:20:39] Lisa Woolfork: It's not something that I'm, you know, working with that way. For me, social media is about building community it's and it's. And I think that so much of our time gets spent into it gets turned into how can we profit financially from this? Yeah. And if we can't, then it's not worth doing. And that's, [00:21:00] that seems sad to me, trusted me a bit sad.
[00:21:02] Monica: It, I wanna touch on a few things that you said, I, I, I just jotted down a few things so I can make sure. So I will say cause, okay. as an event planner, I also have to do marketing. Um, and part of that, I have to do reports and let people know, you know, if we have events, how did it work if we promoted it on social media, you know?
[00:21:20] Monica: So I have to do the analytics, you know? Um, so I definitely understand you wanna, also in your mind know, in the back of your head, no. Like, okay, what's working for you, just like, you need to know for you, right. For me, I don't believe in that curated page. You know, I, I remember someone had said to, oh, Monica's page is a hot mess and you don't want your page to look like of this stuff.
[00:21:43] Monica: Yeah. And I'm like, so the person sent something that is so mean. There's so many mean people on social media, but you know what? They can hide. Screen, because best believe if they met me in person, they Hmm. I'm from the Bronx. So, okay. Lemme just say well, I mean, everybody
[00:21:59] Lisa Woolfork: [00:22:00] wants to be a keyboard warrior.
[00:22:01] Lisa Woolfork: Everybody's got shit to say when it's on social media. Yes. But you would never say to somebody to their face or your page is a hot mess.
[00:22:08] Monica: No, like, and
[00:22:10] Lisa Woolfork: like, my I'm like my page is for me that my page needs to please black women's pitch and Lisa woo fork. Just like your page needs to please that. So Monica, that is the purpose.
[00:22:20] Monica: And that's what it does. But you know, what, what got me thinking about this curated page thing was it was one time I went out to, um, with a couple of, so sisters and I was able, I posted pictures and everything and I realized I'm like, nobody posted the pictures. Like, oh my God, did they not like, uh, us taking the picture together?
[00:22:40] Monica: What was. And then I realized like, oh, it doesn't fit into their curated page. And I was just like, I, it was freedom that I felt like you guys can't post. Like, I didn't say anything to them, but in my head I was like, Hey guys, posting the picture. Like, did something happen? Was it not supposed to [00:23:00] be posted what's going on?
[00:23:01] Monica: You know, and oh no, no, no. You know, and I thought about it. I was like, it doesn't fit into their curated page or what someone is telling them needs to be. And I said, I had that freedom. Well, I don't care what anyone says. I'm gonna post what I want when I want to, how I want to. And that's for me because when I had 20 people liking my page, when I had a, what, a hundred, 200 followers, I had a brand reach out to me to host their page.
[00:23:28] Monica: And I was like, who me? What, what are you talking about? You.
[00:23:32] Lisa Woolfork: That's
[00:23:33] Monica: wonderful. I didn't them. I didn't send anything. I was just being me, you know, so I think it's important that with social media is be, you.[00:24:00]
[00:24:11] Lisa Woolfork: Hello stitchers. We have a limited edition opportunity for you to support the stitch please podcast and the black woman's stitch project as a whole, and get some more fabric in your collection. These are mystery fabric boxes of fabrics that have been divided into woven and knit there's boxes that that are stuffed with black and white fabrics.
[00:24:31] Lisa Woolfork: There's boxes of Chevron fabrics. There's boxes of fabrics called I think adventure or nature or something like that. Um, and these are completely full of fabrics. These are medium flat rate us PS boxes that can be sent directly to you for $30 and that shipping is included. So if you're interested in building your stash or, um, taking a chance on some really cool fabrics, let me know you can DM me on Instagram at black [00:25:00] women's ditch, or you can send me an email at black women's ditch,, and we will send you.
[00:25:06] Lisa Woolfork: A mystery box of very cool fabrics, $30 shipping and insurance included. And that'll help you get your stitch together too.
[00:25:15] Monica: Thanks.
[00:25:27] Lisa Woolfork: So, um, I'm back talking with, um, Monica from that. So Monica and it is such a delight and a treat to speak with her. Um, and so Monica, you were talking earlier about why it's important to just be yourself on social media and in addition to being yourself and social media, to just be organic and not feel like you needed to have a curated feed
[00:25:52] Monica: for me, I believe in organic.
[00:25:54] Monica: Um, you know, I, I, and I don't know if you got this part, but I had someone say to me, That they, someone had told them [00:26:00] that, you know, my page was a hot mess and, you know, they didn't want their page to look like mine. And I was like, oh, I didn't know being yourself. Yes. You know, that's what you say, that's on you, but it's, it's good for me.
[00:26:11] Monica: And in terms of like my growth on, uh, social media, I didn't do anything special. I was just me, I believe in organic growth in engagement. Anytime someone commented, I always commented back. Um, anytime I saw things I liked, I reposted. Um, but I saw the, I saw that there was something going on. There was like a shift in this curated page, which are beautiful.
[00:26:36] Monica: I love some curated pages. I will see some and I love it. And those are more of art type of pages, you know, but sewing for me, people wanna either see the format, how you sewed it, what the process was. Um, and not to say that a curated fit into that. Um, cuz there's, some people are doing a great job with that.
[00:26:55] Monica: It just doesn't fit into my. Area. And I think for me, I [00:27:00] believe if you grow organically and you don't do, you can't be someone else, let me set. So there are people out there who are selling products, saying, I can grow your fee to this, or I can allow you to do this, this and this. There's some, some are free.
[00:27:15] Monica: Some are things that you have to pay for. But one thing it can't teach you is how to be them. You have to be, you, you know, I can't turn around and say, you know what, I'm gonna do, Lisa or Lisa, can't say, I'm gonna do everything. Monica does. I'm gonna post every picture. Monica posts the same way. So the same clothes, people are going to follow Lisa for who Lisa is.
[00:27:36] Monica: They love your voice. They love the things you sell. They love the fact that you are raw. You're direct that you talk about. That's something that I admire being someone who worked in academia. So I follow you right. To get those nuggets, you know, but. Someone may follow me is cause, oh, Monica's gonna mix a print.
[00:27:55] Monica: Or she may style her scar. Yes. You know, but she doesn't. [00:28:00] Thank God. That's right. Thank you.
[00:28:04] Lisa Woolfork: Thank you. And your photography is so beautiful too. Your photography's beautiful. I love your looks and like I, and some of those, some of the looks you pose and just like, it's like, you are clearly having fun with what you're doing.
[00:28:18] Lisa Woolfork: That's something that I see in your feed. It's not, it's not this idea about, oh, Herf page is of hot mess and I'm like, in what world, in what world does that get defined that way? Like, that's just, it seems. Not just mean spiritedness, but certain small mindedness and a lack of creative. I was trying, you know, in
[00:28:37] Monica: my opinion, I, I kept everything on my page.
[00:28:40] Monica: You know, I may have cleared some things that, oh, didn't pertain suing, but that was like five or six pictures. But I kept everything from the first post in October, 2015. So you can see my journey five years, we're supposed to grow, you know? So after a while, yes, I have a nice camera, but guess who takes my [00:29:00] pictures?
[00:29:00] Monica: My 15 year old daughter, that's interested in photography. I don't hire photographer. Most of the time I take pictures on my phone, especially if they're on the Manne. And if the sunlight is right, the pictures are on the phone. And most of the time, the way my phone is set up is always a crack screen. So
[00:29:21] Monica: I get some good shots and we take five or tens in, you know, um, and I love having fun. So we'll walk down the street and start laughing and we go our favorite pie place, or we go to get something to eat. So it's like, I'm not just putting on makeup to get dressed, to just take a picture and then not do anything with it just because I needed to post this on Instagram.
[00:29:47] Monica: No. So what you're gonna get, you're not gonna get a pulse from me. I'll take my picture when I'm ready, when I'm going out, when I'm wearing the outfit, you know, and that's just me. Um, and I don't knock anyone who does [00:30:00] it the other way. Um, but for me, my. My growth was organic. Lisa, I won and I, and I feel astonished, right.
[00:30:08] Monica: That's right at like, oh my God, I'm at 10, like 10,000 people follow me, like, wait, where, how you know, I didn't do any phony contests. You know, those ones that are out where, oh, here, Lisa, we can listen, let me say this. If I wanted to grow Instagram, if you really wanted to grow your Instagram, there are definitely ways that we could do it.
[00:30:29] Monica: If you purposely just sat there on your phone every day and did all of those particular things. But when you do that, what is it that you're growing it for? What is it that you're, what's the end point? You know, because if it's like, oh my God, I want 5,000 followers. Okay. When you get to five, what has changed in your life?
[00:30:49] Monica: What did no, that's what I had to say to people when they would say, well, I don't, of course I'm not gonna I'm sit here. When I was at a hundred, I was like, oh my God, I got a hundred. Then [00:31:00] it was like, oh my God, I got two. And then my husband was like, OK, what is this? I said, I'm on Instagram. My son was like, oh my God, you got, I said, yeah, people like me.
[00:31:07] Monica: Oh my goodness. And then when it went, I was like, okay. And then it was like, okay, why are you even count? I think the first excitement in the beginning, like I would see people's pages and I'm like, oh my God, I love this person's page need sit. And like, and I'm like, that's not organic. That doesn't even feel comfortable to me.
[00:31:28] Monica: Can't why I throwing on the,
[00:31:36] Monica: I, I mean like, no, I throw myself you floor, you know, you know, depending on the situation, but like, it's not me. So yes. It's like, you have to do. You have to do you, but I believe like, yes, if there are tips out there, Hey, don't stand and don't stand. You know, what is the word? Stand in front of the sun or, you know, don't, don't have the camera facing the stunt.
[00:31:57] Monica: Right. Have it behind you. [00:32:00] Yeah. So things like that. If you people always say Monica, you're so short. Yeah. Five feet. How do you make yourself look tall? I don't, my daughter takes the pictures. Sometimes she'll sit on her knee, like on her knee just to take it up so we can get the skyline a little bit. But really we take the pictures down the street from the house, you know, like, and I take my girlfriend that's right.
[00:32:22] Monica: The other, um, sew is that we sew here at, um, project. So, and some I'm like, Hey ladies, if y'all ever need camera, you know, if camera
[00:32:37] Monica: downtown five minutes, let's take pictures, whoever.
[00:32:47] Lisa Woolfork: And there's a cute, there's these cute little, I love the cute little it. See, it seems just so real. Like, you know, it's like you and like, and I think it's, is it maybe the twins? Um, and y'all like, go like to the little cute little Quain [00:33:00] cup shop or something in these little areas. It's just like a real thing that you would do.
[00:33:05] Lisa Woolfork: And the pictures are just like a bonus. You know, because it's, to me in the images, at least ones that I've seen is that it just, you hanging out with some friends and then you're gonna, you know, pay your daughter a couple of cupcakes to take some really nice photos. And that's what it looks like. And that's what I think people kind of are drawn to.
[00:33:26] Lisa Woolfork: Um, it's so funny because I think that social media can be, you know, as many people have said, like a blessing and a curse, you know, but I think at least for me, and you know, my, my project is growing black. Women's stitch is growing. It's really. But I don't. I mean, and I'm, and I do struggle with this, and this is something, I guess we talk about more on a different in, in a different day and not right here on the podcast, but it's like, you know, part me is like, you know, I would love to have a bigger following.
[00:33:52] Lisa Woolfork: I would, I got 5,000 now, which is like, I never would've thought that would be the case, but honestly, I don't wanna be, is there some people I just do not wanna deal [00:34:00] with? And that is something that I have the privilege of. Like, you know, I have, I think because I was involved with some kind of, um, something about racism, cause I'm always talking about those kind of things.
[00:34:09] Lisa Woolfork: People are like reading, you know, leaving really shady comments and I'm like, You don't need to follow me. You and I, and I have no respect for what you are saying, because what you are saying is stupid. You know what I mean? Like just, I don't want trolls. I don't want bots. I don't want, you know, I want it to be an organic thing.
[00:34:26] Lisa Woolfork: I want it to be a community of folks who are interested in the things that I'm interested in. And that's what I believe you have created. Um, when we come back, I wanna take a, just another quick break and I wanna talk about how you translate this digital community that you've created into real live sewing events and in particular, That is gonna be about project so on the road with Monica, which I totally love.
[00:34:52] Lisa Woolfork: And, um, the, so your view project. So when we come back again, we will talk more with Monica after the break.[00:35:00]
[00:35:15] Lisa Woolfork: All right, we are back. Thanks. Y'all for listening to the stitch, please podcast the official podcast of black women's stitch. I am joined today by Monica that's. So Monica, and we're gonna talk about, we talked in the previous section about how Monica has created a really substantial and robust Instagram following.
[00:35:33] Lisa Woolfork: Now we're gonna transition to how she builds sewing community in real life. And the thing that stands out to me most about this is, well, I guess. Well, you do it in three ways. At least I see. First is the, so your view, which is a digital project, but you pull from so many other people in the community and then the project, so, and the, on the road.
[00:35:55] Lisa Woolfork: So let's talk a little bit about the, so your view project. I really love that. And I can [00:36:00] tell you, you have helped me to make things and sew garments that I don't think I would've chosen. Had you not like elevated them up, you know, I know for sure. Um, for the most recent, what was the one from, it was the, the simplicity pattern, 87, something with the two piece with that, that sleeve that's really tight up to the elbow.
[00:36:21] Lisa Woolfork: And then it kind of bells out a little bit. I saw I do you have, how many times I went to the fabric store and was like, eh, to that pattern, I passed it up so much and then somebody put it on and I was like, oh my God, that's amazing. And so I finally just bought it like two weeks ago. So I'm like. Late like months and months late, but I'm totally making it.
[00:36:46] Lisa Woolfork: So how did you get started with the, so your view? Like what, um, and what, what kind of drew you to that idea?
[00:36:52] Monica: Um, and then I started looking to bring in different hosts every, every month. So I think I brought in Britney for the first [00:37:00] time and then every other month it was someone else. And then now it's kind of like every month we have a different host, but I've always loved bringing people together.
[00:37:09] Monica: Um, that's something my mom also did as well. And I think working in advance in higher ed at one point, um, the types of jobs that I would have is always about connectivity, community, um, bringing people together one, you know, um, so it was, it was really organic. And then I think even with the patterns , I said, I look through and I'm like, okay, what is it?
[00:37:33] Monica: Something that I would wear? What is, what are things that I would want. Other people to be able to, to wear. And that would work for different body types, uh, different sizes, you know, different, uh, a variety of different things, you know, and then to see how people can pull or push their potential in sewing.
[00:37:54] Monica: You know, when we started, I think we did, um, We did a skirt and we had like three or four [00:38:00] people who, who did it with us. So it started to grow from there. And now I can't even keep, I can't even keep up with the amount of people that do this are your views monthly. Um, we had to start our its own, uh, Instagram page just so that I could keep up and get a grasp on, um, all of the people that were submitting their, um, their, so their mates that is
[00:38:22] Lisa Woolfork: fantastic.
[00:38:23] Lisa Woolfork: And I love this idea of like, just you and an online. So sister saying, you know, let's do a, kind of a monthly challenge or let's, you know, challenge ourselves. What has the, um, response from has, or has there been any response from the pattern companies that you have been using or amplifying mm-hmm has your strategy changed in the, again it's um, three years, like right now we are in February.
[00:38:49] Lisa Woolfork: So your view is three years old. Yeah. Um, And like, has, how has it changed or has it changed? Um, has have any pattern companies, [00:39:00] um, stepped in to support, you know, that kind of thing.
[00:39:06] Monica: Um, I would say yes and no, you know, at one point I think I got a message from someone like, why do I select just a certain pattern?
[00:39:13] Monica: And at first I was like, I'm not just selecting a certain pattern. It just happened to be when I would look at it, based on our style, my style also things that I think could work what's in fashion now, you know, people wanna show what's in fashion, you know, and for me I'm, I love fashion. So I, I, it just happened that one pattern was, was more that had more of the fashion and what I was looking for at that time.
[00:39:39] Monica: But, um, in terms of support, uh, I don't know, it's, it, it hasn't been one where it's like, oh, Hey, we'll give you patterns or anything like that. No. Um, or give, Hey, when are we sales? That's
[00:39:58] Monica: I'm listening. Go ahead. I know [00:40:00] that. I'm sorry. So I know that I had, uh, when I had met with MCCA, um, and simplicity, when I went to New York one time, you know, they, they love soy. They follow it. Um, I know that they had mentioned to me, they love the fact that to see everyone, um, Highlighted in the diverse nature of it.
[00:40:17] Monica: And at times I'll notice that they will like some of the pictures. Um, but I also realized too quickly that I said, you know, I would, I was doing patterns because I know sewing is so expensive. So I would look to see if patterns were on sale and that's kind of how I would select what patterns worked, you know?
[00:40:34] Monica: But then at the same time, I'm like, are we supporting. Everyone, how can we support people? So we decided to do an independent pattern, and then we also did a free PDF pattern for move fabrics and they were very supportive. Um, and, uh, we chose a style. So me pattern at one point, um, for black history month, we had did that as well.
[00:40:54] Monica: Right. So, um, it, it's in a point that I'm looking and thinking [00:41:00] that we're at a point that, so your view may need to have its own pattern, you know, to where we're yeah. Where we're creating patterns that work for the everyday woman, um, or men. Um, but the people feel, and they're getting things out of it. Um, the way I choose and select the patterns now is based on how many views you are able to get, the more views a pattern has, the more likely I will select it because it's something.
[00:41:29] Monica: Everyone can kind of tailor too. Um, and I will say Lisa, it was trial and error too. Cause there is a lot of so longs and I noticed that when we did things that had buttons or things that had certain technical difficulties, people didn't do 'em as much. Wow. As would say a that was just a simple knit dress.
[00:41:51] Monica: You know, you noticed that that was an influx in that. So I realized then, Hey, we need to have the host and if they want to host and they're able to take over [00:42:00] the month or give some in info. Cause I can't do it. I don't have physically, I can't commit to hosting a month myself. You know, I'm usually on the tail end, sewing that pattern.
[00:42:11] Monica: And that's what honestly keeps me sewing if I didn't have. So your view, you really would not see anything to be.
[00:42:19] Lisa Woolfork: It's a, it's an accountability thing. Now right's an accountability thing. It's like, Hey, this is my project. This, so your view is something I believe in now I gotta go make my outfit.
[00:42:29] Monica: Yes, and I, and I've never, I've only not made one.
[00:42:33] Monica: And that was the recent mood in October because I don't, I don't really like P printing PDFs and putting them together and then having to cut them. That was just a challenge for me. And, and October was a busy month, but I'm still gonna do it. So I'm gonna make sure that I get that done in the next month.
[00:42:50] Monica: Um, even though it's like four or five months late, If I'm gonna do a so along, it's important that I also do my make as well. Wouldn't you know what I mean? What's right. What's the [00:43:00] purpose of hosting it if I'm gonna, but I want to try to get ahead of it to inspire people and not come in at the tail end.
[00:43:07] Monica: You know, so I'm working on myself, but at least it keeps me going. So that's, that's the biggest. Um, and what
[00:43:12] Lisa Woolfork: I love about your story is that it fits your overall philosophy of an organic type of growth and organic engagement. I think that, I think I haven't of course done as many of these as you, but the ones that I have done pretty much have always been like at the last minute, like waiting for the pattern to go on sale, and then I'm getting busy and then I'm like, oh my gosh, it's just three days left.
[00:43:33] Lisa Woolfork: And then like going into like a total sewing frenzy. Now I did have one exception to that. And this is one of the things that I love about the, so it was one of my favorite, so view stories is, was, it was last summer. Of 2019. And you had the Carlos Vogue pattern with the Stripe? Well, some people did it in stripes in lots of different directions.
[00:43:55] Lisa Woolfork: And I, I did it. I made the dress twice. Mm-hmm I freaking [00:44:00] loved that dress. Absolutely love it. And I made it out of a black and white sat with a little bit of stretch to it, invisible zipper. I mire all of the pieces, like for the yolk, for the Bodis for the back, for the skirt and did triple top stitching using my brand new cover stitch machine.
[00:44:21] Lisa Woolfork: And when I posted it, it got a great, a lot of like twist was wonderful, but then Carlos VO, Carlos, who was, who designed the pattern mm-hmm like, thought it was stunning. And I was like, oh my gosh. So that, that kinda like totally freaked me out. I was very happy. I was like, yes, no.
[00:44:39] Monica: And to be honest with you, that's always a great thing when you know that the pattern designer.
[00:44:43] Monica: Or even the pattern company acknowledging you or just says, oh my God job. Well done to me. I've always loved that. Yeah. That's a good feeling. Um, it's hard. Yeah. It's, it's such a good feeling. I know it's hard for them to do that on so many people making their patterns, but I think for me, the [00:45:00] diversity.
[00:45:01] Monica: And so your view, the representation, not only from the different backgrounds of the so is, but the sizes. Yes. The age range and the fact that we can something and that we still make it in rocket in our style. That's what brings like warms my heart. And that's what keeps me pushing because at one point I was like, okay, I'm tired.
[00:45:22] Monica: I don't wanna pick a pattern today. I just wanna go to sleep. I just don't wanna, you know, I can't post cause that's another, so social media page that I have to make, right. You. That I have to, and now we're, we're at 9,000. I wasn't there one day I looked and I said, wait, what?
[00:45:39] Lisa Woolfork: 9,320. That's almost as much as your own as your, um, as your main page.
[00:45:45] Lisa Woolfork: Like, so that's the big.
[00:45:49] Monica: And some of the people I realized who follow. So you don't, don't all don't follow me and vice versa. So at one point I had posting, I posted, so your view stuff [00:46:00] on my page, but I'm like, okay, it's like double posting. I need it to just be on its own page. I will post my may, but people need to go to, so your view to know like, Hey, this is so long and really that's all it is.
[00:46:12] Monica: You know, if you want to sew along with us, hopefully the hosts that we select are able to do that, but they offer, they all offer their own points of views, which is so fabulous. Cuz I learn every day from all of them and it, it just keeps me motivated. Like it honestly it's like, I'm ready. I gotta, I wanna pick up the pattern today.
[00:46:30] Monica: I'm like, okay, come on. Got it. So make sure you make it. And,
[00:46:33] Lisa Woolfork: and I love like flipping through the, so your viewed feed, you know, when it comes out, as people are making theirs, because it's like, it just gives me, it gives me ideas and inspiration. It's like, oh, I thought that was a cute little thing. Or look how, you know, when Robin did her sleeves are different than the bots.
[00:46:48] Lisa Woolfork: And that's really cool, you know, or look at the piping that, you know, the Kiki hat on this one, that's really neat, you know? And so that's something that I really think that you've done such a beautiful job with. Um, [00:47:00] I wanna shift to talk about projects. So, um, this seems to be another example of how your work as an event planner, um, has with, um, with your sewing life.
[00:47:14] Lisa Woolfork: Can you talk a little bit about project, so, and where that started and where you've been with project, so, and where you are headed next?
[00:47:23] Monica: Yeah. So you actually said it, my work is an event planner, uh, With the appreciation of those who I work with. Um, you know, I worked for the city in Dallas and they knew that I sew and we needed to bring in some community programming, um, during the week.
[00:47:40] Monica: So like Monica, would you think your sewing group would want to come and sew for the day? You, you have space fee, um, and that's it. And I'm like, what? So I'm working and I can sew all day on a Monday, just set up and everything. I'm like, okay. Plan OG. Y'all available. Yes, we are Monica. [00:48:00] Okay, come on. And we started in March of 2015 and, um, and a young lady who was my sewing instructor, miss Marquia.
[00:48:08] Monica: She actually was the one who would do some of the classes. So we tr we at first it wasn't open sewing. It was, it was sort of like, Hey, come make a pillow, come make a skirt. You know, we have women here we're gonna help you. But what I realized quickly is some people didn't want to do that. They wanted to come in and sew their own things and then also gain the support from other people if they had questions.
[00:48:30] Monica: So hence it was like, you know what, everyone prefers to open sewing. And I think that's what we're gonna stick to every now and then we'll throw in a class, but it organically was building, you know, so sometimes it would be two people, five people, 10 people. Um, and then when I got, uh, my promotion to moved to another, um, part within the city, I couldn't commit to doing Mondays.
[00:48:52] Monica: My new boss was like, girl, you can't leave on a Monday to go sit. And so Uhuh ,
[00:48:57] Lisa Woolfork: that's my
[00:48:58] Monica: job. Exactly. [00:49:00] Yes. I was taking days off to do that. And then it just wasn't feasible because I was being pulled in so many different directions. So I had to, um, still work in the department and we're able to utilize our recreation centers because those are part of, of my job.
[00:49:17] Monica: And, uh, with that, I was able to pick one center I loved. And I said, this is a great place. That's in the middle of Dallas. It's a great point for all different place people to come to. And we started over there and we didn't miss a beat. So we kept going, um, in the summer. The one thing, let me backtrack when we were at fair park, fair park is taken over.
[00:49:38] Monica: It turns into the state fair of Texas from the months of June all the way until the end of, um, October. So, wow. We have started wait, you're staying
[00:49:47] Lisa Woolfork: fair. Last three months.
[00:49:49] Monica: Well, it last, well they started prepping cause the it's a, oh, it takes
[00:49:53] Lisa Woolfork: a long time to
[00:49:54] Monica: build it. They build out, um, it's to the point that what they do is the parking [00:50:00] lots are turned into.
[00:50:01] Monica: They, they make these big fancy, they, they pour cement into the parking lots and build all this stuff and then come back and bulldoze it down and make it back into a parking lot. It's a big, um, wow. It's a big thing. Yes. And they take over all of our buildings so I could not have the sewing there. So we moved to, um, one of these sewing, uh, stores, a fabric store in the area, and that person allowed us to do it for a month.
[00:50:26] Monica: And then it was just like, okay, we could only do the three months here and then do another four months here. And it was, people wanted to continue to do it. So it was a good thing when I had transitioned because I was able to keep it consistent for a full year, but I remember. but I brought it to the rec center that first Saturday, cuz remember we were on a Monday, so now we're on a Saturday and at, you know, it was like four or five people there.
[00:50:51] Monica: And then I, we had just bought our house and you know, I had my new sewing room and I'm like, okay, why am I taking my stuff going here? And it's like one person or [00:51:00] two people, you know? And I was like, feeling like, why am I doing this? I'm like, no, Monica, it doesn't matter if it's one person. Or two people or a hundred people.
[00:51:08] Monica: It's one person that's learning to sew. That's not sewing alone. That's not feeling isolated. That fills the support that fills that sisterhood. And it was like the light bulb went off and that next month, oh my God. So many people came like that was the most. And when I say so many people, it was more than five people, you know?
[00:51:26] Monica: And to me that was right. I had to set up more tables. Every time I went to sit another table, then it was like, okay, 10. Then it was like, oh my goodness. And then I'm like, wait, you live in Dallas, you live in Dallas. I follow you live in Dallas. And then it was like, wait, all of these people that I follow that I'm inspired by daily, live in Dallas.
[00:51:47] Monica: And we also. This is, this is what we're gonna be doing, you know? So it kind of grew from there. And, and from there we became friends like, you know, Kiki's over, I'm hanging out with her, her [00:52:00] sister, you know, Sabrina. So many of us Mia, so many of us have become not only friends, sisters, you know, um, even Sandra right now.
[00:52:10] Monica: And Karen, I can name them all, you know? That's wonderful. Yeah. So it was organic. It kept going from there.
[00:52:19] Lisa Woolfork: Yes. That sounds wonderful. Something that when I came to visit you recall, I was going for work. I was doing a lecture, um, at one of the local colleges and at, at T at TCC actually. And I was like, okay, I'm speaking on Thursday.
[00:52:35] Lisa Woolfork: But instead of having me or I, I speaking on Thursday, but instead of having me Fri fly home on Friday, um, fly me home Sunday so I can go to project. So mm-hmm um, and it was so worth it, it was just a really nice thing to add on, and it's such a warm community that you've created. And like, it was just so much fun to spend the day there and just laugh and, and talk.
[00:52:58] Lisa Woolfork: And I think share [00:53:00] pizza mm-hmm and it was just a really. Thing. So what is your criteria now that you, I see that you are having, you had one in Atlanta mm-hmm and you have one coming up in the, um, the Metro DC areas, which is gonna be in not Hyattsville, Maryland. What city is Jamila's shop? It's
[00:53:19] Monica: in, it's not a Jamila shop, but I believe Suitland, no ly Mount Rainier.
[00:53:24] Monica: It's in Mount Rainier.
[00:53:26] Lisa Woolfork: Oh, okay. Great. Excellent. So it's gonna be, so what made you branch to Atlanta and then to this, um, to, um, to Maryland and what would be
[00:53:39] Monica: next? Oh gosh. And I wonder how I find the time to do all this. I'm sitting here writing all this stuff down. You're asking me and I'm thinking like, wow, I'm only one person.
[00:53:47] Monica: Um, uh, so with Atlanta, it was, again, I keep saying that word, organic Nikki, um, from Atlanta, sewing, my style, she and I became, uh, friends on Instagram. And then we [00:54:00] actually met in person. And when we met in person, we talked a little bit. She's like, girl, you know, we could do a project sew in Atlanta. I said, okay, well, you know, you can start a group.
[00:54:10] Monica: Like you can start your own sewing group. Like why? You know, like my, like we need to do project. So for, because in my mind I'm like, okay, that's something else I have to add. You know? And I'm like, I don't know if I have the time. And she's like, no, I think people would be interested. Monica, trust me. And she like talked and talked and worked on, worked on me.
[00:54:28] Monica: She knows, I tell this story. a lot. And we, as we developed our, our friendship and our relationship, I, um, I was like, you know what, let's go ahead and let's try it. The biggest thing for me is I'm not looking for this to be something that I'm making money from. Right. It's about giving back and allowing women to sell.
[00:54:50] Monica: Financially it comes then that, that means it comes and that's in divine order, you know, but I'm not like, you know what I know I sell, okay. People wanna see me [00:55:00] and Uhhuh, let me charge a hundred something dollars. So y'all can come up here. No, right. It's not about me because remember when I said I was sitting there, one person came and I was like, okay, I'm ready to go.
[00:55:10] Monica: But divine, the Lord was like, no, honey, you keep going. it's five years in yesterday. We had over 30 people. I had to keep putting, I'm looking around like, wait at one time Soly. And I know to somebody that's like, that's not a lot, but no, it is a lot because it's 30 diverse women coming together, Soly. So that's right.
[00:55:32] Monica: That's right. It was organic as well. So we started it and we had some crawl and era. We're still working through some kink and creating an open sewing concept for people to understand that it's like, you know what? You just come, you still, but you build community. And it's bringing you together because those women were not coming together on a regular basis, sewing with each other.
[00:55:52] Monica: There's so many Atlanta sews that I follow that for the first time at project. So Atlanta, they met for the first [00:56:00] time, you know, so that really truly warmed my heart. Just like, for instance, with, um, when you guys just attended a DC fr tails, you have so many people in a D DMV area, but the, for the most part, it was the first time that most of you met in person.
[00:56:15] Monica: Right, right. Yep.
[00:56:16] Lisa Woolfork: Yep. It's true. It's true. And that kind of social that's right. And Nikki's amazing. I just, I'm just getting to know her. Um, and she's fantastic. And I love that she made this sequin. Blazer pants thing. I was just like, I didn't think I liked blazers until I saw that one on her. I mean, that's pretty fierce, so, and, and she's got that such a wonderful passion.
[00:56:39] Lisa Woolfork: And so I think I really appreciate what you're saying here about projects. So not, and, and if revenue comes, revenue comes, that's great, but it's not created to be a revenue generating mission it's created to build community. And that's something that I just really appreci.
[00:56:54] Monica: Yes. Yes. And for the DC, you know, we have to charge two first phase, mind [00:57:00] prizes, things of that sort.
[00:57:01] Monica: And every time we have to launch one, there is gonna be a cost because if I have to come out there, I have to get my flight or something, you know? And I, in Atlanta, my stuff, you know, and have a bin is like, okay, whatever, after we covered all costs, can I at least cover a portion of my ticket? You know?
[00:57:19] Monica: Cause my husband's looking at me like, girl, you buy fabric every day you do this, you do this. Why you spending money to go start groups and you're not making anything. And I'm like, this is what is my mission. This is what I need to do. This is this we, I don't want sewing to do. I feel like I was brought here to do this.
[00:57:36] Monica: It sounds so crazy. Now that I'm saying it and it's like, no, I really truly cause you know, at project. So, you know, Lisa, you were there. I don't get a chance to sew as much because I'm making sure that every person who walks in. Feels welcome. Feels. Sisterhood feels a bond, feels a connection that they'll come back and they'll do the same thing for that next person that comes in, you know?
[00:57:58] Monica: Um, so if it means, yes, Monica [00:58:00] packs all her stuff in and only solds one thing, not even, I mean, when I say one thing is one thing and packs unpack everything back and then comes home and now has to sit here until midnight, two o'clock and to get the stuff done. Then that's okay, because that was I 20, 30 people got a chance to sew and not feel isolated and they felt warm and they, they felt the love and they felt family.
[00:58:25] Monica: And that to me is like, that's that warms my heart. It's like, okay, well that means, okay, I got another week. I can't get this out, but that was, that's the sacrifice I'm making. So, um, the DC one is an event. That's gonna be an event we're celebrating five years. So it's gonna be a little different. Yeah, I know.
[00:58:43] Monica: I'm so I'm like excited Jamila and jazz. Jazz is my sorority sister. She and I met in person Jamila and I would stitch with style. We've been communicating every time she post a flyer, I would support her and repost it, you know? So we just organically, again, just started talking and [00:59:00] communicating about stuff.
[00:59:01] Monica: And one day we exchanged numbers and it was just her presence. So all of these women, again, you. And these women in my life, those who've come and there's some who've gone, you know, they're not supposed to be there anymore, but the ones who are still here it's, it's, it's like they see yeah. Something in me that sometimes I don't see in myself, I'll be very honest with you.
[00:59:22] Monica: They're like Monica, do you know, you could do. And I'm like, what are you talking about? I'm regular person. I don't see what you see. Like, you know, but they see something in me and that's what it's like. Okay. So other cities I'm from New York. So I gotta do New York trying to work that out again. Again, it's Monica.
[00:59:43] Monica: You want to branch out, how are you gonna do this? You know what I'm saying? How is it gonna work? How is it gonna make sense? So New York would be one, um, possibly, um, North Carolina, my brother just moved there. So when I go visit him, that would be, um, Charlotte is one. LA [01:00:00] is, um, another. For my daily, that would be amazing with, um, Sheri is helping me with getting that and then new Orleans.
[01:00:10] Monica: So right now I'm saying this I'm putting out there, this is the I'm saying this out loud. Oh, my all of this has been like little notes. So, um, I'm praying that all of that comes to fruition and that I'm able to carve the time in, to really put into that and find hosts and ambassadors in those respective areas that are genuinely there to support and are not like, oh, they're trying to be on the rise or self-serving, you know what I mean?
[01:00:39] Monica: Like, okay, I'm riding the wave, let me ride, let me ride the wave. And if, let me build my own stuff and then buy piece, see you later. And you're like, wait, what about what we were trying to do? What about, you know, so yeah,
[01:00:58] Lisa Woolfork: No, that's wonderful. I [01:01:00] love that New York, North Carolina, new Orleans, Los Angeles, all these are really great places. And especially if you already have some people who have feet on the ground there, um, and are plugged in to the communities and as long as they're in alignment with the values of the project, you know, and I think that that's the hard part, you know, is being aligned with the values of the project, you know, because there's lots of different ways to do different sewing groups and meetups and yours follows a specific type of mission.
[01:01:29] Lisa Woolfork: Yeah. And I think, and that's something you don't wanna get lost. I certainly understand that. I wanted to ask. I'm not go ahead. And
[01:01:36] Monica: I'm sorry. And I think that, that's what scared me at first to make sure that people knew that like, I can't be at all of these places, but that I don't lose that warmth and that feeling that you would get any projects.
[01:01:46] Monica: So you go to, you want that to be replicated everywhere. So, yeah. I'm sorry. That's what I, that's the part that I
[01:01:52] Lisa Woolfork: wanted to say. No, I think that that's great. Let me ask you, um, one last question, cause I know we're getting near our time, but let me ask, [01:02:00] what advice would you give to someone who wanted to start their own, um, sewing groups, sewing community maker space or something like that?
[01:02:10] Lisa Woolfork: Someone who is like, you know, might feel isolated or feel like they have connections in the digital community or people that they're following online, but how do they reach out and develop these connections? You know, in their local area. I
[01:02:25] Monica: think, uh, the first thing you wanna do is see, who's sewing in your area.
[01:02:29] Monica: If there's a local sewing Guild, if you go to your local fabric stores, if there are any women that or men that you see sewing, that you are like, Hey, where do you sew? Do you prefer to sew by yourself? Just reach out to them. You know, um, you can do it on social media and don't give up. That's the biggest thing.
[01:02:44] Monica: Cause you're gonna have one, two people, even your library, um, and places that you can start the group. Remember this has been, uh, five years, you know, going. And I think when people look at it, it looks like it was overnight that I just started and had 35 40 people, you know, [01:03:00] walking in and all these cities.
[01:03:01] Monica: No, it was something that at one point it was two people. At one point it was just myself, just sitting there sewing. So I think the advice that I would give is. See your community, like contact those, those in your community. Even if you have one or two friends, you can start it like that and just say, Hey, we're getting together and we're sewing and, and make it fun, you know, and, and, and try to provide that support that people need.
[01:03:23] Monica: And I think that that's where you will
[01:03:26] Lisa Woolfork: grow. That is I think that's beautiful advice. And it's a beautiful point to end on Monica. Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Um, I've been talking with Monica from that. So Monica about organic growth and engagement and Monica tell us where people can find you.
[01:03:44] Lisa Woolfork: So, um, those folks who aren't yet following can do so.
[01:03:47] Monica: Yes, you can find me on Instagram, YouTube as well as Facebook at that's. So Monica, um, and I have a website that I'm definitely, um, updating to , but [01:04:00] that's so Monica, you can find me on any of those platforms. I do respond to all of my messages. So if you hit me up, DM me, I will respond.
[01:04:08] Lisa Woolfork: that's excellent. Monica again, thank you so much again for taking the time and y'all follow her. You will be inspired. Um, I know she certainly inspires me, so, and I know she'll do the same for you too.
[01:04:35] Lisa Woolfork: Thank you for joining us for this week's episode of the stitch, please podcast the official podcast of black women's stitch, the sewing group, where black lives matter. There are a variety of ways that you can support the program and you're doing it right now by listening to the pro, by listening to the podcast, it does help us grow another way to do.
[01:04:57] Lisa Woolfork: Is to rate the podcast, [01:05:00] review it, subscribe to it. All of these things are ways that you can support the podcast without having to spend any money at all. If you would like to spend some money to support us, there are ways to do that as well. You can make direct donations to our Patreon site for monthly contributions, as well as one time contributions to PayPal cash app or Venmo.
[01:05:21] Lisa Woolfork: And finally, we have another cute, very adorable way for you to support the black women's stitch project. It's a pin, a PI N, and Mamel lapel pin. That's very cute. It's about two inches wide and one and a half inch tall. And it's of the black women's stitch logo. And that is $15 with free shipping to the us.
[01:05:44] Lisa Woolfork: And so if you drop $15 in the, a PayPal Venmo or cash app account, and then send me your email. No, not email. If you send me your. Mailing address to my email either at black women's stitch [01:06:00] or you send me a direct message on the black women's stitch Instagram page, we will put the pen in the mail to you.
[01:06:08] Lisa Woolfork: Um, again, free shipping, $15 for the pen, and all of this goes to support the black women's stitch project. Thank you again for joining us this week. Come back next week and we will help you get your stitch together.

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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