Marcia Spencer, KeechiiBStyle

Host: Lisa Woolfork is an associate professor of African American Literature and Culture. Her teaching and research explore Black women writers, the fiction of Black identity, trauma theory, and American slavery. She is the convener and founder of Black Women Stitch, the sewing group where Black Lives Matter. She is also the host/producer of Stitch Please, a weekly audio podcast that centers on Black women, girls, and femmes in sewing. In the summer of 2017, she became a founding member of Black Lives Matter Charlottesville. She remains active in a variety of university and community initiatives, including the College Fellows Program to reshape the undergraduate general education curriculum.

Marcia Spencer

Marcia Spencer is a style & fashion lover, designer, entrepreneur, and stylist based in Raleigh, Carolina. Marcia loves to incorporate trends into the season and loves the 70s vibes. She has a background in fashion design and retailing and runs the Keechi B Style blog. She has designed and marketed a line of children’s clothing as well as luxury bags and is currently a blogger on the Mood Sewing Network.

Insights from this episode: 

  • How to pursue your passion and follow non-traditional careers
  • What it means to have a fashion-driven selling philosophy
  • How to transition from one business to another and still maintain the passion that you started with
  • Details on the inspiration behind the fashion pieces that Marcia creates
  • Strategies for getting inspiration from others and tailoring it to fit your style

Quotes from the show:

  • “I never thought about it [sewing] as something I could do, make it a career” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”
  • “Fashion has always been a part of me” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”
  • “I am driven by fashion; I make clothes that I want to wear. Why make something that you are not going to feel fabulous in?” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”
  • “Your selling is very fashion-forward and fashion-driven” – Lisa Woolfork, Episode #4
  • “Fashion does push the envelope” – Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “Everybody has their own style, and sometimes people haven’t defined their style yet” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”
  • “You know how to sell; you can make it” – Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “The selling process is both a skill and an art, and you’ve been able to use your sewing machine to bring those together” – Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “I think the best way to go about it [fashion] is to look at it as inspiration, not as to copy it, but to be inspired by it” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”
  • “One of the great things I like about buying a pattern is that we can buy the same pattern and it’s not going to turn out the same” – Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “What you wear speaks volumes” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”
  • “I am very passionate about wearing the inside on the outside” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”
  • “I like to be versatile when I go about my pieces… I like to get the most about my outfit ” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”
  • “The biggest thing to get your stitch together is to look at inspiration from other Instagramers and other stitchers, and creators and get inspiration from them, but be yourself” – Marcia Spencer in “Stitch Please”

Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Marcia Spencer

Website: Marcia Spencer

Instagram: Marcia Spencer

Blog: STYLE BLOG | Keechii B Style

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Lisa Woolfork  0:10  

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.

Hello, everybody, and welcome to the Stitch Please podcast. My name is Lisa Woolfork. I am happy to be your host here today coming to you from Charlottesville, Virginia. And as I say for every episode, this is a very special episode because I am speaking today with Marcia Spencer. And you all might know her and you should know her as KeechiiBStyle on Instagram. And one of the things when I think about Marcia's work. I think about height and volume. I feel like her photographs, if you go through your Instagram page, the looks are so elegant. They're so well designed, and the photographs are well structured. It's just a beautiful, beautiful contribution. It's always a bright light. No matter where you are. It seems like it's always sunny. 

Marcia Spencer  0:34  

It's not, but thank you. [laughs] 

Lisa Woolfork  1:14  

Welcome Marcia Spencer to the program. Thank you for joining us today.

Marcia Spencer  1:30  

I'm so happy to be here. And thank you for inviting me.

Lisa Woolfork  1:34  

Welcome, welcome. Let's start with just some of the very basic questions. How did you get started? What is your sewing story? I did read that you started as a young child and grew into it. Can you say more about that—how you got started?

Marcia Spencer  1:47  

Well, as you say I started very young—can't remember the age. I mean, so young so I was at my mother's sewing machine on the floor piecing together pieces of clothing for my Barbie doll. She kind of taught me the basics of how to sew hand stitch. She would sew at her sewing machines with patterns, and she's an education teacher or she was. She's retired now, but she would make these costumes for class performances and stuff like that. And she'd make her own clothes, help other people with their outfits, but probably grab all the pieces of her scraps off the floor and try to make stuff for my Barbie doll. I'd try making shoes, all sorts of stuff. So she told me what she could at the young age that I was just to be safe. But, um, as I got older, she showed me the ropes on her old Singer machine. As I got older, I started to get patterns and stuff like that. I started to teach myself how to read the patterns and make stuff myself. Some time out on it, of course, growing up I wasn't... The attention span of sewing as a young child is kind of not there. 

Lisa Woolfork  2:48  

Right, right. 

Marcia Spencer  2:49  

So I picked it back up in high school, though, and started making just little trendy stuff and wearing it. I never thought about it as something I could do—make as a career when I was in high school. It was later on after playing with it in college. I went to North Carolina State University and got—

Lisa Woolfork  3:05  

Oh, excellent!

Marcia Spencer  3:05  

—my sociology degree, and after declaring majors and almost out I was like, well, wait a minute. This is probably not what I wanted to do. But...

Lisa Woolfork  3:16  

Now here I am. 

Marcia Spencer  3:17  

Yeah, but I was like, you know what, I'm not going back. I'm just gonna keep pushing. I did apply to design school and got accepted, but at that time I had my husband. It wasn't in the cards for me right there. So I just started with my oldest son when he was a baby. I started really getting into making stuff to fit him because he was a chunkier child. 

Lisa Woolfork  3:37  

Yeah!

Marcia Spencer  3:38  

I had problems with bibs fitting around his neck. So I was like, you know, I sew. I've sewed off and on. I know how to do this. I didn't really get deep into it or anything. But I went and made bibs for him, and I actually started selling little cute bibs to people. They'll see him and be like, aw, these are cute. And so I sell them. Two years later, I had a daughter, and that was it. You know, little girls, cute little dresses. I was like, oh, my gosh. I was making stuff for her and getting so many compliments on it. And I was like, I'm gonna start a business and make kids clothing. I did it out of our garage at home. Yeah, I was in advertising. After she was born, I stayed home and I started that business. And it was called Small Beans.

Lisa Woolfork  4:18  

Oh, that is so cute! Tell me more about that name. That's a children's clothing line named Small Beans.

Marcia Spencer  4:24  

Small Beans.

Lisa Woolfork  4:25  

Adorable.

Marcia Spencer  4:26  

Do you know what? It's so funny. There was not a lot of thought put into the name, unfortunately. It was something that just popped in my head. I was like, ooh, what if I just go with it? It just came out of the sky. It really was not my thought.

Lisa Woolfork  4:39  

That's wonderful. 

Marcia Spencer  4:39  

Yeah, so that one kind of fell in my lap. So I just went with it, and I was making stuff at home and promoting it and selling it in stores or whatever. Store consignment with stores in the area and selling online and stuff like that. It was pretty good. It was pretty good. But my children were my models at mostly girls clothing, but I did have some little boy stuff. I loved it at the time, but as the kids got older, of course, they were like my muse. So they inspire me to keep going. When they started being like, oh, Mama, don't want to take pictures anymore. I'm not feeling it. I'm not into it. I just kind of lost the drive for the whole children's clothes. That kind of died off. And then I was like, no, I need to really do something that speaks to me that I want to do. And that's how the Keechii Bags came into vision. I shifted, and I was like, I'm not into the baby stuff anymore. And my kids, they're not pushing me to do this. [laughs]

Lisa Woolfork  5:37  

You're not into baby stuff and neither are your kids. 

Marcia Spencer  5:39  

Exactly!

Lisa Woolfork  5:40  

So it all worked out?

Marcia Spencer  5:42  

It all worked out. It all worked out. I love bags, still love bags. Still into Keechii Bags, but I want something bigger. I want more than just bags. I want the whole line and accessories and stuff. So, like I said, I started with the Keechii Bags. I use the same plan as I did with Small Beans. I did trade shows in the area. I did some online stuff. I promoted on my website. Sold in stores, consignment in stores and stuff like that. And loved that. Kept doing it. Then all of a sudden, third baby comes along. Surprise! Okay, but this pregnancy was a little bit harder on me—the last one. So he's four now, but when I was having him, I couldn't keep up with the demand of what was going on. And I kind of had to push it aside. And after he was born, it was kind of like, yeah, I still want to do the bags, but I want more this time. I want more than this bag. I don't want to be known just as the bag lady. 

Lisa Woolfork  6:37  

Right.

Marcia Spencer  6:38  

I wanted to do Keechii with the clothing and the bags and the accessories. So I'd say, We're gonna tip. We're gonna do this a different way. So that's when I started to get more into the fashion part of the clothing, and then I feel driven for my bag. 

Lisa Woolfork  6:51  

Right. 

Marcia Spencer  6:51  

That's something that I'm going to keep reiterating into the fashion because it is part of that. Bags are part of fashion. 

Lisa Woolfork  6:57  

Yes.

Marcia Spencer  6:58  

So, I mean, definitely be part of fashion. 

Lisa Woolfork  7:00  

Absolutely.

Marcia Spencer  7:01  

That's basically where it came from. And now we're here, and I just keep... Opportunities keep dropping in my lap. I keep pushing and trying to reach the goals that I'm reaching for. Because there's still a lot more to come from Keechii. [laughs]

Lisa Woolfork  7:15  

Now tell us about Keechii. 

Marcia Spencer  7:17  

Keechii, the name. 

Lisa Woolfork  7:18  

Well, I'm trying to find, like, I know her name starts with a K, and it's got two E's and two I's. I think it's Keechii like Keechii, but I'm not so sure. So tell us where Keechii... 

Marcia Spencer  7:29  

Okay.

Lisa Woolfork  7:30  

Where does Keechii come from?

Marcia Spencer  7:31  

Okay, so there was a lot of thought behind Keechii. It comes from my Indian heritage. And a lot of African American individuals have a Native American heritage. And mine is Cherokee on my mother's side and Occaneechi tribe on my dad's side. And I just put Occaneechi and Cherokee—the "kee" from Cherokee and Occaneechi, and I put it together, then I got Keechii. 

Lisa Woolfork  8:01  

Ohhh! That is wonderful. 

Marcia Spencer  8:03  

So, yeah, I merged them together because, you know, I come from my mom, I come from my dad. Put them together, you get Keechii. And that's me. 

Lisa Woolfork  8:12  

Ohhh!

Marcia Spencer  8:12  

I'm Black. I'm a Black woman. But I also celebrate my Indian heritage. Because, you know, a lot of times a lot of us, we have that Native American history. And as in, you know, I just wanted to bring it together. 

Lisa Woolfork  8:22  

So I recognize that as also a part of you. Oh, that's wonderful. I'm so glad I asked that question. That was a good question. Way to go, Lisa. Well done. I also was very interested in your look when I was doing research for our conversation. I looked at your Threads magazine piece that was published in 2021. It was really wonderful. And I loved all your answers. But when I got to the bottom, the photo credit said Landon Spencer. And so I'm like, oh, I wonder if Landon is her spouse, and Landon is taking all the photos because Landon knows how to hit them angles! And Landon is pulling off this very elongated look. I mean, I don't know if you're six foot three. I don't know if you are. But you certainly look like you are in every photo that I take. It's always sunny. It's like if you ever watch any Batman movies, Gotham is always dark and there's never any sun in Gotham. Yours are the opposite. Like I don't think that in your world, there's never been a cloudy day. 

Marcia Spencer  9:17  

Oh, gosh.

Lisa Woolfork  9:18  

I look at your pictures—it's all sunshine all the time. So I'm like Landon is a pro! Is Landon a professional photographer? Tell you more about this Landon. So tell us about Landon and how Landon has contributed to your journey, because Landon has taken some fire pictures.

Marcia Spencer  9:33  

Okay, of course, Landon has definitely contributed to my journey because Landon is my daughter. She's the one who started the whole, you know, thing with me. So yes, she is my 15-year-old daughter, and I asked her to help me out with my photos. I did some modeling when I was younger, so I've learned some things over the years about lighting. And also my husband, he works with photography but he's not a photographer, but he works on the print side and stuff like that. So he has a lot of photographer friends. And I've learned a lot from them and just picking up a little bit or whatever. I'm not a professional. I know how to, but it's hard to take my own pictures. I know how to take a good picture. I'd take my own pictures, but I go to Landon to try to capture what I'm trying to convey in the picture or whatever. And I've given some tips here. Every now and then she's like, "Mom, maybe let's go during the golden hour." I'm like, what's the golden hour? Where'd you get that from? "You know, when the light hits...." I'm like, oh, she's picking up stuff. Oh, and I'm like, tell me about the golden hour. [laughs] She's become a little photographer on her own. She's still a kid and she likes to do kids things, so I don't call her too much now. But she's enjoyed helping me and she would love to hear that she's taking good pictures and people like them, so I'll make sure to let her know.

Lisa Woolfork  10:48  

Please let her know that I have looked at a lot of sewing photography. A lot. And yours is an absolute standout. So brava to Landon. Something else I'm really interested in and what I do appreciate about your sewing is that it seems very fashion forward or fashion driven. And I think you've described your philosophy for sewing as fashion driven. Can you talk more about what that means to you to have a fashion-driven sewing philosophy or sewing practice?

Marcia Spencer  11:18  

Like I was saying, I was into modeling a lot when I was younger. And I've done my fair share of modeling and locally and stuff like that. So fashion has always been a part of me. Fashion has always been my thing. I've always been driven by fashion, picking up the magazines, ELLE magazine, the InStyle magazine, Glamour magazines and seeing all the pretty designs and pretty pictures of all the clothing and stuff. So I'm inspired... A lot of things are avant-garde and really outlandish and...

Lisa Woolfork  11:46  

Yes. 

Marcia Spencer  11:47  

...stuff you can't wear on the street.

Lisa Woolfork  11:48  

That's right—fashion does push the envelope.

Marcia Spencer  11:51  

It does really push the envelope. But there are ways to bring those into your every day. I am the girl that is going to make the outfit. It's like, where are you wearing that to? Oh, I'm just going to the grocery store today and pick up the kids, but I'm gonna wear it.

Lisa Woolfork  12:06  

Today is mailbox day. I got to go to my mailbox at the end of the driveway.

Marcia Spencer  12:10  

Exactly. But you never know who you're gonna run into going to the mailbox, right?

Lisa Woolfork  12:13  

Listen. Girl, you don't gotta explain it to me. My favorite hobby is stunting on these hoes.

Marcia Spencer  12:19  

Yes, exactly! [laughing] Oh, my god. So yes, I'm driven by the fact, and I want to make clothes that I want to wear. I mean, why make something that you're not going to feel fabulous in? And then at that point...

Lisa Woolfork  12:33  

Yes. 

Marcia Spencer  12:33  

...if you want that glamorous picture or that outfit that that person is wearing in that magazine, why not have that like that?

Lisa Woolfork  12:40  

That's right.

Marcia Spencer  12:40  

If you can do it, then do it. 

Lisa Woolfork  12:42  

You know how to sew, you can make it. I appreciate that because the way that you talk about the sewing machine or the sewing process as both a skill and an art, and that you've been able to combine to use your sewing machine to bring those two things together. Now, when you start working on a piece, what inspires you, because what I'm hearing you say is that you flip through magazines, you see what's happening, you see the avant-garde things. Is that your version of what I do, which is going to Joann's and flipping through the book or going through Instagram and—real talk, I'm like, Okay, what's on sale this week?

Marcia Spencer  13:18  

Yeah.

Lisa Woolfork  13:18  

At Joann. And I wanted to go track the Instagram tags for those particular sale patterns and see if anything looks like something I would want to wear. You are pulling inspiration differently, or do you do a little bit of both? 

Marcia Spencer  13:30  

Everybody has their own style. And sometimes people have not defined their style yet, but they feed on other people. And they're like, oh, that looks good on you. It looks good on that person, but it may not look the same on you. 

Lisa Woolfork  13:44  

Right. 

Marcia Spencer  13:44  

So when I see like a pattern, or I see something in a magazine, I'm like, oh, that look, but I'm not shaped like that person or I'm not the same height. How would that fit on me? How would I make that so that it fit me? 

Lisa Woolfork  13:57  

Yeah.

Marcia Spencer  13:57  

So that's why I get into doing my own little tweaks, doing my own little hacks, and stuff like that. And that's the reason for the hacks because, hey, I am almost five-eleven, three quarters. I always say that. People say, Why don't you just say six feet? So let's just say six feet because I do wear stacked shoes because flat shoes don't do my feet any good. But so, yes, I'm six feet, and I am extremely curvy. I mean have a small waist and hips and thighs. The way that looks in that magazine is not going to look the same on me. 

Lisa Woolfork  14:28  

Right. 

Marcia Spencer  14:28  

And most likely I try to buy in the store, it is not going to fit me correctly. So it's to my advantage that I do know how to sew and I can create it...

Lisa Woolfork  14:38  

That is right.

Marcia Spencer  14:39  

...so that it fits me and it looks nice on me. It may not be exactly like it looks, but it's going to look really good on me because I made it fit me.

Lisa Woolfork  14:47  

Exactly. Because you're not trying to look like anybody else.

Marcia Spencer  14:51  

No, no.

Lisa Woolfork  14:52  

You're not. When you look at that piece, you're not like, oh, my gosh, I want that. I want to look exactly like that. There are few folks, I think, are trying to replicate down to a penny. 

Marcia Spencer  15:01  

Yeah. 

Lisa Woolfork  15:02  

Even for a sewing pattern, one of the great things I like about buying a pattern is that we can buy the same pattern, and it's not going to turn out the same. It's going to look very different.

Marcia Spencer  15:12  

I think the best way to go about it is to look at it as inspiration. Inspiration—not as to copy it, but to be inspired by it so that you can make it fit your style to your lifestyle and your fashion style and fit your body. Because there are pieces out there that you kind of like, okay, I can wear that I can make that. But make it your own, you know, just make it your own. Because...

Lisa Woolfork  15:34  

Exactly.

Marcia Spencer  15:35  

...that's what's gonna speak the loudest. What you wear—it speaks volumes. That's the first thing people see: you and your appearance. So when they see you, and they're like, oh, wow, look, you got bright colors on and I want to approach that person. They look like they're interesting. 

Lisa Woolfork  15:49  

Yeah.

Marcia Spencer  15:50  

That's why I'm very passionate about wearing the inside on the outside.

Lisa Woolfork  15:54  

I love that. I really do love that. 

Hey, friends, hey. Thank you so much for listening to the Stitch Please podcast. And did you know that there are three ways that I can listen to you? The first one is SpeakPipe on the Black Women Stitch website, dot org. Go to Talk to Us, and you can find the SpeakPipe there and you can leave a message. This works on mobile devices as well as on your laptop. The second way is doing 30-minute Thursdays. And that's 30 minutes on Instagram from three p.m. to three-thirty p.m. and then again on Clubhouse, which is a two-way audio program for mobile devices that allows you to talk back and forth with a group of friends around a singular issue such as sewing. So check those ways out. And then the third way that I'm really excited about is video chat using Marco Polo and Streamcast. You can send me a video message, and I can send you a video message back. This is a feature only available for Patreon supporters, and it's a lot of fun. So now that you know the three ways that you can speak to Black Women Stitch, please check 'em out. Two of them are free-99 and one is just for Patreon supporters. But any way you cut it, I am really looking forward to helping you get your stitch together. So hit me up.

I want to ask you: How would you define—because it's on your website—high street fashion? You say that you bring together like DIY and high street fashion. What is high street fashion?

Marcia Spencer  17:33  

Okay, so when I say "high street fashion" it's kind of where the runway meets the street. It's wearable. It's not avant-garde. It's not really runway. But it's some of those higher-end pieces with not the high-end tag, kind of boutique-ish type wear—stuff you probably will not find in Macy's or your department stores or your local mall or stuff. They are really stylish pieces. They're probably going to be a little trendier. They are chic. They look nice on most people. And, like I said, runway meets street. You can't buy at—you can't just go down the street to your local mall and purchase it. 

Lisa Woolfork  18:05  

No.

Marcia Spencer  18:05  

They're eye-catching pieces. That's what I define as "high street." Like high street, high...high-end and street fashions...

Lisa Woolfork  18:12  

Going together. And that's what I definitely see in some of your work. I know that show Law and Order does like ripped-from-the-headlines type TV shows. When I look at some of your pieces, I'm like, that looks like it was ripped right out of W Magazine. [Marcia laughs] That's where it's ripped from. And it's not because it's a copy, not because it's like, oh no, no, she copied—because you brought it forward. It's like you're taking it from the runway and from the studios in the closed fashion houses and putting it on so you can go to the grocery store and the post office.

Marcia Spencer  18:44  

To pick up the kids. [laughs]

Lisa Woolfork  18:45  

And pick up your kids and stunt on hoes along the way. And they're like, oh, my gosh, look what she has got on, and I'm wearing my sweats for the third day in a row. So...

Marcia Spencer  18:49  

Hey, there's nothing wrong with that sometimes. Sometimes that's your move. And like I said, You're gonna wear how you feel. 

Lisa Woolfork  19:00  

Yeah, you sure are. 

Marcia Spencer  19:01  

Right? So if you're feeling like sweats that day, why not put on some hot pink sweats? 

Lisa Woolfork  19:06  

There you go. Be cheerful. 

Marcia Spencer  19:08  

Yeah, make a cute little action going on.

Lisa Woolfork  19:12  

I really liked the way you accessorize. And so I want to ask you what your favorite accessories are that you've made, and then I'll tell you the two that you've made that are my favorites.

Marcia Spencer  19:21  

Okay, so the bag thing was my first thing. I love bags. I really do love bags. I like high-end bags. I like how they look and stuff like that. And so when I go into making bags, I do surf like Pinterest and see the bags that the girls are holding from the runway. And I'm like, Oh, I can actually make that. One of my favorites is the green bag with the handles—the furoshiki, I think that's how they call it. The cloth bags, they look effortless there so chic, and you're not putting a lot in it. It's like you're high fashion without even trying. I really love that one, and I plan to make some more of those for the season. I think that those are more like spring-summer bags. And I actually have a tutorial on that one on my website too. So...

Lisa Woolfork  20:03  

Oh, great! Your website is packed with tutorials. We're going to be sharing the link in the notes. I mean, just looking at the first page, it's like technique after technique after technique, after project after project. It's incredible.

Marcia Spencer  20:15  

Well, I try to help people get into it. I don't want to scare anybody into trying to dress like me. I just try to give them an idea of Look, this is what you can do. This is what you can do with it, and try to get them to look at it in their way, how they want to be perceived and how they could do it. Just giving you ideas of things you can do. You don't have to dress like me...

Lisa Woolfork  20:36  

Right. 

Marcia Spencer  20:36  

...just 'cause you like this outfit. But, you know, this is what you can do, this is what can be done with it.

Lisa Woolfork  20:42  

Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Well, I have two pieces that you made that I love. One is I love the way you do corsets. I'm not sure if you call them corsets, but the way that you will take a corset and put it around a shirtdress. That, I think, is really clever.

Marcia Spencer  21:01  

Lisa, I am so glad you mentioned it because the corsets and the bustiers—when that came back on the scene, I was like, Where have you been? And I was like, oh, my god! Before I knew it, every piece of fabric that I got in I was like, how can I make a corset? How can I make a bustier out of it? I'm like, okay, no people are going to get tired of this. You about to get sick of me, but look, I love the way it cinches. That's the smallest part of my body. I just love it. 

Lisa Woolfork  21:01  

It creates—it accentuates. 

Marcia Spencer  21:07  

Yes, it accentuates the curves in your body. It's so womanly and feminine. I just love it. I love a corset and a bustier. And when done, you can actually put it to your everyday—you can incorporate it into your everyday wear. 

Lisa Woolfork  21:42  

Yeah.

Marcia Spencer  21:42  

So it doesn't have to be a special occasion. Usually that's how it was. But not with all the different fabrics that you can make it out of, all the different ways that people have shown us that they can style it, you can wear it every day if you want to. So you can wear it with a suit. 

Lisa Woolfork  21:57  

Yes, it's true. It's absolutely true. And I really love how you can wear it with the shirtdress or with a dress that has like when you pull the sleeves down and you have puffy sleeves. You can accentuate that. There is so much it can do. 

Marcia Spencer  22:11  

It elevates a simple dress, elevates a simple look. It just pushes it up higher yet.

Lisa Woolfork  22:16  

It elevates and it accentuates.

Marcia Spencer  22:19  

It's a perfect piece. 

Lisa Woolfork  22:21  

It really is. It really is. And that's one of the ones. And then the ones where you and I are fabric twins.

Marcia Spencer  22:27  

Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Lisa Woolfork  22:29  

It wasn't a shawl. It was some kind of—was it a vest? A puffy vest, I think. 

Marcia Spencer  22:33  

It was like a vest, and I added the wraparound streams and stuff to it. I wanted to be like, okay, well, I can just throw a turtleneck on some jeans if I wanted to and just wear this. Or I could wear it with the whole—with the skirt thing or maybe put a black skirt with it or some sort of different print skirt to match it up with some I like to be versatile when I go about my pieces. I try to think, I don't want this to be the piece that I only take up when I wear this.

Lisa Woolfork  22:59  

Right.

Marcia Spencer  23:00  

I like to get the most out of my outfits. So before I'm making I'm looking at like, if I'm making like this, this is the only way I can make it, so how can I fix it to where it can be more versatile? And that's kind of the way I go about some of my projects. Another reason why I'm more prone to make two pieces. 

Lisa Woolfork  23:19  

Ohhhhh....

Marcia Spencer  23:19  

'Cause then it makes whole pieces. But that's changed with the whole forcing thing because you know. But a lot of times I will chop a dress and be like, I want to wear a shirt and a skirt I can mix with something else, a top I can make to something else. So I do look at it. I do put some thought into some good pieces.

Lisa Woolfork  23:38  

It's clear that you put a lot of thought into your look and that your skills are able to enhance the work that you're already doing. And I do appreciate how—the way that you have laid out your tutorials, the way that you've done your overall sense of style, it's very inviting and welcoming, saying, Look, I'm not trying to get you to like me. I'm just trying to show you if you would like to have a similar look or if you have pieces in your own closet or pieces that you've already made, or you sew and you have the same skills—we all got the same skills to a certain extent—you can make this suit. 

Marcia Spencer  24:14  

Yes. 

Lisa Woolfork  24:14  

I think that's really wonderful. I really do. I think that's great. I wanted to ask you about some of the sewing organizations and companies that you've worked with. So you're currently a Mood ambassador or a Mood blogger, a Mood sewing network blogger and a Bernina ambassador. How did those things come about? And what are some of the benefits for doing that?

Marcia Spencer  24:33  

I am a Project Runway fan. So... [laughs]

Lisa Woolfork  24:37  

When are you going to be on Project Runway? I'm like, yeah, that makes sense. I keep feeling like this should've happened by now.

Marcia Spencer  24:42  

I really have to get out of my own head with the Project Runway thing. I've thought about it and I played with it in my head, but the whole competition part of it, I feel like that is just so stressful. And I just want to create. I just want to create art. Why does there have to be a competition? 

Lisa Woolfork  24:57  

And why I gotta make my art out of stuff you found in the trash?!

Marcia Spencer  24:59  

Exactly! Now that could probably be fun. I've never done that before. That would probably be fun.

Lisa Woolfork  25:05  

See, that's why you ready for the show. So I wish you'd stop playing, Marcia, and go ahead and send them people your audition tape already. Marcia wants to make stuff out of trash.

Marcia Spencer  25:14  

[laughs] That could be fun. I have to think about that a little bit more. But yeah, that's the only part that kind of gets me. I'm like, man, the whole competition is gonna kill the mood for me and my art and my creating. Being that I have to compete with somebody who's like right next to me, and I'm just like, what? I don't know. I have to think about it. I have to get out of our head.

Lisa Woolfork  25:33  

Girl, please. You put them earbuds in your head and keep—and mind your business. And do what you do at the house. Just do it over the air.

Marcia Spencer  25:40  

I feel you. I feel you. But, yeah, Mood, I've loved Mood. And that was my first time being exposed to Mood—watching Project Runway. Its iconic store—Project Runway just put it out there. 

Lisa Woolfork  25:51  

Yes.

Marcia Spencer  25:52  

Being able to work with them and their fabric, it has been a pleasure. They have so many... I mean, even the website doesn't touch on the stuff when you see people doing pictures in the stores. And when you see Project Runway and you like, where was that fabric online? I didn't think that! Wait a minute. Let me go back and look. I like this so much.

Lisa Woolfork  26:13  

There's way more in store than is online, I think, for sure.

Marcia Spencer  26:17  

So I am so glad to be able to work with their huge variety of things. And I've worked with them for a while. And I still feel like I haven't really touched on everything that they offer. It's been a great ride with them, and I'm happy to be working with them. I was asked to be a Bernina ambassador when...it was like almost a year ago? And I was excited because I have seen people working with their Bernina machines. I was like, oh, my god, it does so much. Oh my gosh, it's so beautiful. Look at it like that Rolls Royce. It's so crazy. You don't want to drive it.

[laughs] All shiny. Look at all the buttons!

[laughs] Yeah, look at all the buttons. So when they approached me and asked me to be an ambassador, I was like, why, certainly, yes. And I then created with Bernina a sewing machine for almost a year now. And I love it. I mean, it's really opened up some things that I've never—don't touch. There's so many aspects to the machines. I haven't touched on everything yet. But... 

Lisa Woolfork  27:12  

Even after a year, you're still growing into the machine?

Marcia Spencer  27:15  

Even after a year, I'm still learning through it. And there's really a learning curve when you first get into it because there's so much. It's like, okay, you can't just jump in and do everything at one time. I need to focus on this first. But anybody who has a Bernina knows it's just one of those things that you keep learning new things as you go and getting better at it. But I love the machine, and I'm so happy to be working.

Lisa Woolfork  27:36  

Bernina does their machines with numbers. What kind of Bernina do you have?

Marcia Spencer  27:40  

I'm sorry I haven't remembered it, but it's a B-five-ninety. Okay. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:44  

B-five-ninety.

Marcia Spencer  27:44  

It does some embroidery too. Yeah, there's an attachment for embroidery and stuff like that. I don't know why I'm so skittish to get into embroidery. 

Lisa Woolfork  27:53  

Oh, because you're gonna start a new business. That's why you're skittish. Listen, I'll tell you what: As soon as you put that five by seven or eight by 10 hoop on that machine, and you figure out that you can digitize things with your face on them and put it on there and your logo, you will have a new business. So that's why you're being hesitant. 

Marcia Spencer  28:12  

Yeah. 

Lisa Woolfork  28:13  

So next year, when I interview you again about your embroidery business [Marcia laughs] or the new line of designs that you've made after being on Project Runway, I'll say, "Remember when you didn't embroider yet?"

Marcia Spencer  28:24  

Yeah, yeah. I've played with a little bit, but I haven't gotten deep into it. But I'm like, oh, my god, this seems like a lot. This seems like too much. I know it's just one of those things. Every time I take on something, it seems bigger than it is. And then once I get into it, it's like, what?

Lisa Woolfork  28:38  

See? You'll feel the same way when you get on the set of Project Runway. You'll feel the same. You'll feel the same. What was I nervous about? Lisa was right. Get my earbuds. I'm stuck on these, but I can sew better than everybody in here. Which will be true.

Marcia Spencer  28:52  

I appreciate it. [laughs]

Lisa Woolfork  28:54  

Now, I know we need to wrap up. But I wanted to ask you this question. When I was looking at your Threads piece you said that "stitch" actually was your favorite sewing word. You know, I thought that was very clever that you said that. And so the slogan of the Stitch Please podcast…you said that you like the word “stitch” because you just like to say it. As opposed to saying "sew in the ditch," "stitch in the ditch." I agree. Way better. Yeah, it's way better.

Marcia Spencer  29:15  

It just has a ring to it. 

Lisa Woolfork  29:17  

Yeah. 

Marcia Spencer  29:18  

Are you going to stitch it up? 

Lisa Woolfork  29:19  

Yes, exactly.

Marcia Spencer  29:20  

I'm gonna make this straight.

Lisa Woolfork  29:23  

It's a perfect word. I agree. So the slogan of the Stitch Please podcast is "We will help you get your stitch together." I'm going to ask you to share with our listeners what advice would you give them to help them get their stitch together?

Marcia Spencer  29:35  

I think the biggest thing to get your stitch together is, like I mentioned before, inspiration from other Instagramers and other pictures and other creators and actually just get the inspiration for them but be yourself. You don't have to make it exactly like they did. Make it the way you know it will fit your body and feel good on you. You want to be comfortable. You want to feel good in your clothes. And when you make something that somebody else is wearing and you put it on your body and you're like, well, it don't look like the way it looks on her. That's because that's not the way you're supposed to wear probably. You may need to adjust it the way... Don't be scared to adjust. Don't be scared to rip that sleeve off, make it different. Puff sleeves are not for everybody. Everybody don't like puff sleeves. Puff sleeves might not fit your body right. I like a puff sleeve because I'm heavier on the bottom. 

Lisa Woolfork  30:25  

Balance. 

Marcia Spencer  30:25  

Evens me out a little bit—balanced. You notice I usually go bigger on top most of the time. That works for me. It might not work for you. So do something a little different. Don't be scared to alter it. You want to look good, and what you make when you feel confident about it and wearing it, and the only way you're gonna do that is if you make it for you, not make it like somebody else did.

Lisa Woolfork  30:45  

That's perfect. Just perfect. Thank you so much. Marcia Spencer, KeechiiBStyle on Instagram. Thank you so much for being with us today here on the Stitch Please podcast. It was a blast.

Marcia Spencer  30:58  

Thank you for having me, Lisa. Thank you so much. I'm so glad I talked to you today.

Lisa Woolfork  31:05  

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 Black Women Stitch at Gmail dot 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 two dollars 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 at 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.

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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