Melaninated Embroidery on Leather and Fashion Week

Find Bonita on IG @babycakesbagsandrags–Brand-/BabyCakes-Bags-Rags-978444388846659/

Bonita met legendary fashion icon Dapper Dan! Check out his book, Made in Harlem

And she connected with Derek Warburton, @derekwarburton, at a Fashion Week event

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Speaker 1: (00:04)

Lisa: (00:14)
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 Woolfork. I'm a fourth generation sewing, enthusiastic 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.

Speaker 1: (00:41)

Lisa: (00:55)
so I just want to welcome, this is Bonita Hinton and she is a digital fashion designer. She's a leather worker, a bag maker, embroiderer sewist. I, I think that you do more things than you do not do. So this is a woman who does it all and you just had a pretty great time at Fashion Week this year. And so I was hoping to talk about that as well. So can we just get started talking about a bit about your sewing background and how you got started?

Lisa: (01:23)
Absolutely. Um, I actually have been sewing since I was about five or six years old. Um, my mom always loved to, so she just did it, you know, for fun. And she bought me my first sewing machine. It was not a child song. She knew was a real sewing machine that she put right next to her machine. And that's pretty much how I learned. If it wasn't right, she would make me rip my stitches out, start again. So that was a really good way to learn how to do it. Um,

Lisa: (01:52)
and you say do learn on an adult machine, that's also very impressive. Instead of like having it be like a child machine or a toy, it was actually, she trusted you to have adult tools which helped you to develop, you think that helped you to develop your skills in a way that perhaps a children's machine or toy might not have.

Bonita: (02:10)
Oh, absolutely. And also my aunt, which was my mom's sister, uh, she worked in the leather factory, so she made leather coats in handbag. I think that is where my love for leather and other medias came from. So that's what I've been sewing with pretty much all my life.

Lisa: (02:29)
That's fantastic. It's this really that often I hear sewists say things like I'm afraid of the serger or I'm afraid of an overlap or I'm afraid of a blind hemmer I'm afraid of a, and I was like, you know, you drive a car, which is like one of the most dangerous things on earth and you're not afraid of that. Why are you afraid of a machine that's just sitting on your table? But one of the things that, one of the things that your story seems to suggest is that you were able to, sew these materials that many people find difficult, like sewing with leather is something that some people will spend their whole careers trying to avoid, but you almost like a solid, it sounds as if you developed an early facility with that medium. Tell us a bit about that. Like how did you overcome your fear of, or maybe you never had it to begin with someone with leather because leather is so unforgiving. So I can admit that I have a slight bit of "leather fear" because it's so unforgiving. You know, once you sew holes in it, there is no, there's no pressing it and making the holes go away and starting over.

Bonita: (03:38)
Yes, that is so true.

Lisa: (03:42)
So how were you able to conquer that and just say, Hey, I'm just going to do it and see what happens.

Bonita: (03:46)
Well, I used to get, uh, a scrap bin. It was a, my aunt called and at the end of the week when she would finish with all her leather project, she would just throw her scraps into this bin. And that was to me like my pot of luck. So I actually built the, my scraps were personal pieces and I used to make doll clothes from moment, you know, they'd have leather sleeves and you know, different things like that. So, um, I don't really know that I had a fear for it in that regard until I started my own business and I was making leather handbags for others. And like you said, leather is absolutely now forgiving. Once you puncture it. It's pretty much a wrap, a wrap. Um, so you know, that at times can be a challenge because hides are so expensive. But um, you know, I just, I love it. It's my passion and I allow for um, a certain amount of uh, space in the event that I need to make some changes in my themes and all. Um, but yeah, that, that's pretty much what I started on that I, I work also with uh, vegan leather upholstery fabric. I like to mix the textiles up to keep them very interesting.

Lisa: (05:02)

Lisa: (05:03)
that sounds amazing. And I just want to give a shout out to the best dressed dolls in wherever your childhood home was. Because if you were making doll clothes from the leather works scrap bin and giving your dolls leather skirts and leather sleeves, they were probably like the envy of the Barbie dream house. I mean, I was making doll clothes too, but my doll clothes were, they looked like they had been made by an actual child who wasn't allowed to use a sewing machine. So they were not at all. They look like, you know, those costumes from the walking dead. You know how the things are, like, you know, they're kind of hanging off. That's what my dolls were wearing, you know, and then I would just say I'd saved my money and buy some Barbie clothes because I could not sell it and have them not look like they were extras in a zombie film. But yours sounded pretty impressive with leather and apparel and parts. That's amazing. So when I wanted to talk also about the name baby kegs, bags and rags. I love this name and I believe you said that it's, his name has a family history. So would you mind sharing, um, info about that with us?

Bonita: (06:13)
Not at all. I'd be happy to. Um, I, my actual profession before I started my own business, that was the healthcare administrator and, um, my parents on the family business. So, you know, we were doing different things and my mom and I'm a mom, loved fashion and she had, she was a fashion course. I mean, she loved handbags and anything to do with fabric and creating, I think I got the bug a little bit worse than she did in terms of the handbag. Um, and we always had this dream while we were sitting. My family, this was a 24 hour business. So I'd be there working with her after school in the middle of the night and we would just talk, you know, about any and everything. And I always called my mom baby cake and we always dreamed of having our own boutique or store one day, a manufacturing company or you have lots of ideas. And she was my best friend. My mom passed away when I decided to open this business and start, you know, to go after my passion. I wanted to keep her along with it. So I named, that's where the name Babycakes comes from, the bags or the handbags that I make and the rags. So the clothing and other apparel,

Lisa: (07:25)
that's really beautiful. And every time I see the name or, and where that or that you say it, I can, I can definitely feel the love and the family legacy in that. And I think that's a beautiful part that you are, that she's watching perhaps from the other side as you, cause she believed that you could do this. She probably believed that you could do this before you are ready to believe that you could do it. Um, and so that's something I find so powerful about your story. Like going from, um, a healthcare professional to doing this independent free spirited, amazing designer work and your work is so impeccable and you work with so many different mediums, you have absolutely no fear. Um, and that's something that I just think is so admirable. Like what kind of advice would you have for someone who was in your position? Someone who is working at a job that they like, but maybe they don't love? Um, how do you, how did you make that leap from your, um, to have this be, to basically pursue your passion full time? How does, how does one make that kinda change?

Bonita: (08:39)
Well, um, it's, uh, it's a chance. It's a scary chance. Um, I, I had no plans of doing it. I didn't have a business plan and you know, a time frame and have everything mapped out. Um, I was ended up being my parents' care and they passed away and I ended up having to leave my job because I worked about 12 hours a day and it was just too much, you know, to, to juggle after a while. And when I ended up, you know, getting ready to go back to work, um, my husband said, you know, you've been doing this for a long time. I was definitely burnt out. He said, why don't you know, he loves what he does. These, these a school psychologists and, and I'm very blessed that he is my strength and support and says, you know, give it a shot.

Bonita: (09:26)
So, you know, it's a scary leap. I don't shop and do different things and you know, vacation the way you used to because there is a building time when you start your own business. But there nothing like the passion of knowing when you wake up in the morning that you have the freedom to create an and market and network and do everything that you want to do to represent your business. So my advice would be to stand strong, to have to have a good plan. Um, I did have a business background, so that definitely helped and really not to be afraid to put yourself out there, not to be afraid to step out of the box and create something that people are not going to see in the stores or you know, just online. It's going to be very specific to things that, that we all recognize and relate to. Um, I was not always an embroiderer or I did make things, but, um, when I started this, I kinda had still the love from reuteri from, I'm going to say way back in the day, it sounding a little old, but to know where, where it is now with the design. And when I started doing it, I saw that we were not really represented African American women, beautiful melanated women. We were not represented in all of our beauty. So that was what inspired me to start in this direction.

Bonita: (10:55)
That is such a good point. And I wanted to just say one followup to your story. I've, I've heard this said many times and some people think that it's cliche, but I think partly partly it is true that "when you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life." And I'm not saying that what you're doing is at work. I know you put in a lot of work, but you're willing to do it because you love it. You know, so you're willing to put in the late hours, you're willing to, you know, miss the meals and miss the vacations and sacrifice because you believe in what you're doing and your passion animates you. So instead of having sewing be like a side hustle instead of having the designing be something you can do, you know, after you've squeezed out, you know, a 45 hour work week, this is your 45 hour work week and sometimes it's your 50 and 60 hour work week and you're okay with that.

Lisa: (11:51)
Yeah, there you there it's not like you'd be, you'd be really glad for a 40 hour work week if you could get a shit. Yes. I just took two large bulk orders, both at the same time saying due date. So I'm a little nervous about that because I am pretty much a one woman show, so to speak. Um, I do do everything from the beginning to the end. And I mean it is a little scary when you first start your business and maybe even a year or so depending on how hard you market, people really look to you as being a crafter. And there's nothing wrong with being a pastor, you know, do it yourself now. I mean it's, everybody is doing it, but when you're trying to do with, to pay bills and to, you know, get recognition and start a brand that's a little bit more difficult to actually sell it because, you know, we naturally go out to people that we know, family, friends, people in the community and they love your work, but they want you to give it to them.

Bonita: (12:51)
They think, Oh, that's a nice, you know, love gift and yeah, prices of the machines and the, you know, materials nowadays. We just can't do that anymore. I think you're absolutely right that there was a time and that time I believe has long past when people could, so to save money that you can sew something and it's much cheaper than buying it in a store. But now things in stores are so inexpensive thanks to the ethical crisis that is fast fashion, um, that, that you could buy a tee shirt at target for $7 or less. And you know, there's no way I can compete with that and I don't want to, I am not trying to sew things for people to be an alternative to Walmart or target or another fast retailer. Um, and I think that this is why it's so important for people to, um, and why I'm trying to practice the philosophy of hashtag pay black women that, you know, tried to recognize and honor the work that people have done.

Lisa: (13:59)
I'm happy to be joined today by Benita Hinton of baby cakes, bags and rags. She is a fashion designer, a bag maker, and all around amazing artists. After the break we will talk more about black centered machine embroidery as well as her conversation with dapper Dan so we can hear that. Great story after the break. Stay tuned stitch please. The black women's ditch podcast talks a lot about sowing, but if you'd like to see some of what we're discussing, we invite you to follow us on the socials on Facebook. You can find us at stitch please and on Instagram you can find us at black women's ditch on Instagram. You'll find a of great pictures and compelling social commentary. In addition, you can participate in a weekly live Instagram chat at 3:00 PM on Thursdays at Eastern standard time, so follow us on the socials, Facebook at ditch please and Instagram at black women's ditch and get your stitch together. I'm delighted to be joined by our guest, Bonita Hinton of baby cakes, bags and rags. She's going to talk to us now about her first time at fashion week this year as well as black centered machine embroidery and meeting dapper Dan. Thank you for tuning in for our celebration of BlackTober where we sent her and elevate black women, femmes and girls always and in particular this month, concentrating on black women in custom fabric making in fashion. And in cosplay. Stay tuned.

Lisa: (15:47)
Let's transition to to I want to talk about two more things. I want to talk about your embroidery and then I want to talk about fashion week. Um, I can't tell which of these things excites me more. Um, both of them are of course incredibly excited. But let's talk about the embroidery cause that's, that's a chance to highlight your work and then we could talk about the fashion week work, um, after that. So tell me a bit about your approach to embroidery. You were saying earlier that when you first started back in the day that um, there were not a lot of designs that were digitized for black folks. And one of the appeals that I liked about embroidery was that I could make anybody black that I wanted to lack and by a snow white and make her black. I could buy a precious moments and make her black. But you saying that we deserve more and we deserve better than just to put Brown thread in white characters. So tell us more about that.

Bonita: (16:42)
Well, that, that did not do it for me. We are such a beautiful array of just gorgeousness. We have so many different hairstyles, so many different skin tones, so many different body shapes. And, you know, we don't have just the week stuck on our head. That's how I feel. Like I, you know, you go to a store and you see a doll, it's like there was a wig wig stuck on their head. I want him to actually see the hair growing out of the scalp, you know, as I wanted to show our beauty and all of his in it as realistic away as possible. So, um, I took some classes and digitizing that were not successful because I guess we didn't connect. They weren't able to teach me what I needed to know the way I wanted to learn it and, you know, and I was frustrated with, you know, I didn't want to make doilies and potholders so I pretty much sat down.

Bonita: (17:38)
I did take some, um, graphic design classes, just a few and I pretty much winged it and I spent, you know, many a days and nights and made many a goof ups until I, you know, I feel like I pretty much got it right or close to it. And now I, I I love it. I love to, I feel like every time I stitched an item they could be the same design that I've stitched, you know, a dozen times. No two pieces ever really look alike. And that's what I love about embroidery. You know, you can make it to a specific flesh tone or you know, you saw the bag that I made you, you can actually create a design, you know, from a photo. And I think that's pretty cool. You're not going to ever see that in any store that you go to. Why should we wear, you know, somebody else's name or somebody else, you know, let me tone it all. That's wonderful. And I'm, you know, guilty. I've bought many but there's nothing like wearing something that really tells who you are.

Lisa: (18:47)
And what I like about what you're saying is that you are putting a new spin on something that the maker community and some advocates from making have been talking about, which is basically locally sourced.

Bonita: (19:01)

Lisa: (19:02)
Yeah. Shop local shops, small. Um, the person who is making your bag is someone that, you know, um, the picture on the bag is not a generic person, but it's you on the back. Right. It's not, you know, the initials from a French designer from all those many years ago. It's you. And that's something that I think is incredibly remarkable about the detail you're able to get. Now for those folks who don't know, embroidery is like, it's a lot of work. It's a lot of time. Um, can you tell us, tell us a bit about your machine. I, I was amazed that you're working on a single needle machine. I thought for sure you'd have like one of those gigantic machines that you could also drive. It's like one of those embroidery machines that's also a golf cart.

Bonita: (19:49)
Well, my single needle actually is pretty large of my one of them. I have three different machines that I use, all of which though are still single needle. Um, and that right now is kind of when my husband is trying to talk me into investing into, you know, a 10 needle machine, we've looked at them and you know, and all and made the space and, and I appreciate that because he believes in me, but they're very, very expensive and you know, of course to the one that I would really need that with service. Maybe the best would be about $25,000. I don't know if I'm ready to do that again yet. I do have the others, but you know, I kind of have to weigh it because every time you change the thread, that takes time. I just received an order today for a hundred hats and 40 skirts.

Bonita: (20:40)
So I'm hoping I haven't bitten off more than I than I can chew, but I'm, I'm just going to hat. Yes, yes. Um, so all three machines will be running. I only have one machine that will hold at. Oop. But it will be jumping. And that's when those sacrifices come in when you're having your own business. Like this past weekend was a beautiful weekend in New York, you know, and my area. And we usually love to go into the city and everything, but I had to open my blinds and you know, work it out. I just had, I had jobs. So those are the sacrifices and I love it.

Lisa: (21:18)
That's incredible. And, and I think for, I think it might be nice for you just to explain a little bit about thread and thread changes. Typically a design, and I'm just going to be spit balling here. A typical design that I might download from an embroidery site or that I might purchase on a disc maybe has 20 color changes, maybe 20 would be a lot for me. I really don't have patience for 20 different colors in the design. I just kind of want to embroider my name on it and I'm fine to do it in one color. That's good enough. Um, but your designs do not have one color chain or 20 color changes. Like you showed an image of, um, the, the image that you had designed it of your bag and was your face embroidered. Can you tell us how many color changes you went through for that design?

Bonita: (22:09)
That was about 38 color changes and um, it took a long time. When I do my designs, I like to make them, uh, dimensional. I think that if we look at our face, you don't actually see just one flesh tone. It's like when you go to the purchase and makeup foundation and they match your skin tone, they can't just put it on your hand cause it's different from your face. So I like to use that in my shading when I'm making face tones so that when you, you're looking at the back from one direction, you almost see sometimes you get like a little shine on your forehead. You know what I mean? Those types of things. I like to keep that natural so I take it, yeah, I

Lisa: (22:52)
learned this after that. Some people get shiny foreheads. I've heard about such things. I mean, I wouldn't know for sure, but my experience and my perfectly flawless skin at all times. But I read about it on the internet that some people look shiny at certain points a day, you know, in their T zone or whatever. But not me. But yes, the rest of the people. Yeah. I think my sisters are like that too. I'm just going to go ahead and throw shade on my sisters as well. Um, yeah, they certainly get that way. Not me though. Not me. Look to you to have perfect to have perfect, perfect skin and all time perfect skin. That's why I only use one color for my money. That's why I only use one color. If I ever wanted to border my face, I would want one color Brown and it would be like the Brown I happened to have closer at hand and um, it would probably be one inch big and that'd be enough.

Lisa: (23:46)
And it would be a circle with two eyes as dots that would be my face. Like it would not be what you have done, which is beautiful. And, um, and I love the way that the, it does reflect and reflect and refract the light. I really is. And this I, the way that you kind of compared it to, to make a foundation really rings true because the, the tonality of your work, the way that you pay such careful attention to our skins, it really does show, uh, a love and an intimacy and such artistry. And I think that's something to continue to celebrate.

Bonita: (24:28)
I appreciate that. You know, I think maybe to a fault and I think that's why I'm having such a hard time and I've had to reach out to someone to help me with my website. When I take custom orders from people, I don't just take it from a website. I actually give them my number to call me and I, I like to hear their voice. I like them to tell me a little bit about something and the lifestyle, what are your lipstick tones, what you know. And so I want them to feel like they're wearing something that is really special, you know? And so that I take a lot of pride in. There's nothing wrong with downloaded designs. I use them all the time. I use them in, I, you know, I'm able to edit them. I don't always like them, you know, the way that they are. Um, but when I'm making something custom like that, I just think, you know, it's a life piece. You can hand it down hopefully to someone else around the holidays. I do. Yeah, I do, you know, pillows and, um, I just want to add, if I may that, you know, I've been, even, people will look on my website, I get messages from Instagram and they'll say, you know, "what is it with you? You only do, you know, don't you do anybody that is not African American?" And I don't really give that too much thought. I mean, you know, because I, I feel like we have gone into stores many, many years and have not been represented. So when I stitch that is my priority. I really don't. I mean, I would certainly stitch anyone, but that's where I get my passion and my joy, you know, really showing all of our beauty.

Lisa: (26:00)
I think that's absolutely beautiful. And I believe it is totally on point. And it's funny you say this because in our conversation last week with Queenora Irvin who is doing custom fabric design, she too got some complaints like "why do you only have black children on your fabric?" And it's just like, are you kidding me? Is this is just, this is one of those consequences of living in a white supremacist society where white folks are used to seeing themselves at the center. They're used to being at the center of everything. And as I mentioned to Queenora, I was like, there is a saying that says "when you are used to privilege, equity seems like injustice." You know that this idea that um, you having your beautiful embroidery designs and having them made dedicated to the intricacies of black beauty, not just putting in one Brown thread and calling it a day, but focusing on the textures of hair and wanting to see the hair growing out of the scow and you know, stitching little baby hairs on the side.

Lisa: (27:17)
I mean like you do all of the things that look like us and for folks to be raised white folks to be resentful of that or to feel excluded shows that they haven't given one thought to how these mainstream and independent embroidery companies operate. And I can tell you, and I don't even need to, I'm sure, but I have certainly been in conflicts with some small embroidery companies because of just straight up racist embroideries that I have found on these sites. I mean like a little person waving a Confederate flag and don't get me started on all the mammy dolls that these people want to embroider and I'm like, wait, you've got a lot of damn nerve. You know, first of all to put it,

Bonita: (28:07)
that's what I'm sorry to cut you off. When I first started embroidering, that was what I saw and I was like, "Oh no, this is not going to work". And it was fueling me so I know exactly what you mean. You know, it didn't represent us at all.

Lisa: (28:22)
Right, right. It was basically a racist representation. It got so bad and this is something I do all the time and need to stop. I have since stopped, this was about 15 years ago, but I got into an argument with this woman who owned this embroidery company about how her race, her mammy dolls were racist. That all the, you know, that she didn't have any black people on her site except mammies. And I said, "this is racist. And my, I'm a professor and my specialty is African American literature and culture. And I am telling you this is racist." Well, I don't think that's true at all. And I have a black friend and she likes it and she doesn't think it's racist. Maybe you should educate yourself. "And I was like, bitch, I got a PhD. "

Bonita: (29:11)
Exactly. Exactly.

Lisa: (29:13)
I mean, Oh my gosh. It was so, it was so bad. And that's what I had to just step away. And as I started, you know, stitching other things. But this notion that it's just so prevalent, um, surprisingly prevalent in the sewing and embroidery communities, and this is what black woman's stitch is all about. It's all about elevating and lifting up black women, girls and femmes. It's about not just exposing, you know, these inequities, you know, it's really more about loving ourselves, loving each other and lifting up the work that we have been doing. Um, regardless of the hostile climates in which we find ourselves. And these is these sewing and embroidery places are surprisingly hostile.

Bonita: (30:01)
Yes. 100% agree. That has been my only experience with them. That it, that is exactly how I felt. Yeah.

Lisa: (30:13)
Amazing. Let's talk a minute. Go ahead and I'm sorry.

Bonita: (30:16)
I was just going to say it's just sad because we have so many, as I said, you know, just so many beautiful features to celebrate. Yes. You know, so it's just like I said, I just get, sometimes I find that I have to really look in mind to be mindful of my time because I, you know, as I'm sewing, I can go on to another machine and do something else, but I just love to see the people come alive so that, you know what I mean?

Bonita: (30:42)
I love it on your lives. Sometimes you'll put them on your live videos, so you'll show videos of you stitching. And I'm like, you're not even done yet. And I like it just like it is.

Bonita: (30:53)
Yeah. I like to do that. So people understand the process. Because just to step back for a minute, like you said about people that will say, Oh, you know, I can just go into the store and buy a tee shirt for $10 or $15 when I'm doing, you know, my vending events, my showcases. When people come up to my table with that type of thinking or you know, verbal, then I know that that is not a person that's going to be a customer of mine because they don't know, understand what all is in it.

Lisa: (31:21)
Yeah. And not everybody. And you know, and you don't want everybody's money. There are, you know, and that is, and that is okay. And that does not mean that, that does not mean that you need to somehow lower your prices or your expectations. There are people out there who value what you, what you bring, and you just have to find them. Um, and, and I think that there's folks out there who are happy to get to sell 10 feet to make $10 by selling 10 things for $1. And I have never been like that. I do not want to, I would, I do not want to sell 10 things for $1 or the sell one thing for 10. I did not have time or I am not trying to compete with the dog on dollar tree and there's too many people who are, they just give away their gifts. Um, let's talk about your showcase. Yeah.

Bonita: (32:09)
Yeah. It is your, it is hard because you know, and I've taken some classes in it, but you really need to learn. People say, well, how do you put a price on embroidery? Is it X amount of money per stitches? And, but it's not really that at all. If you really look at the, at the, um, the math and the time because stabilizers cost so much and the machine costs so much and you know, the thread cost so much. You went to me when I skimp and I use cheaper thread, which I never do. I because I've learned you're designed, doesn't look good. And I have customers that I'm so proud to say, you know, that they'd come certain shows I do on an annual basis and they'll bring someone else and where my item from three or four, maybe five years ago and a little yes. And that really makes me feel good and I think speaks to quality. So you know, for me that is like just the best. But you know, I, I, that's why I do what I did.

Lisa: (33:10)
I think that's amazing. And you know what's funny and I think that this, I'm actually, this is something that just women have to deal with, but it seems like nobody is pricing. Um, designers like Gucci or Louis Vuitton or whatever based on materials. No one is pricing how much a painting should cost based on how much the artist paid for brushes, paint, canvas, their art education, um, how much their hourly rate is. And I think that this is one of the differences in terms of class, social class. And the differences between art and craft, right? If it's craft somehow it's meant to be like less than, and this is, this is why I get so irritated by folks I see that I see who sell their things on garage sales sites, on Facebook, these things that they have made themselves, they sell them in the same venue as someone who's trying to get rid of old furniture and not like good quality antiques, but just that old ratty baby chair that they don't need anymore. And like, it really is, I think that we really need to be taught or to believe in ourselves, in the value of our work. Um, regardless of whatever a market would put on it, you know, it has to be worth that comes from within. And I think that that's something you realize. Um, and it's a great model and example for all of us.

Bonita: (34:31)
I had the honor of..

Lisa: (34:34)
Yes. Tell me,

Bonita: (34:35)
I just want to tell you really quick. I had the honor recently of meeting up with Dapper Dan.

Lisa: (34:39)
Yes, I saw that. That's amazing. Tell us, tell us.

Bonita: (34:42)
He, he such a humble man, but he was amazing and I spend about 20 minutes, 20, 25 minutes with him. We just happen to run into each other in the Garment District. It was not, you know, set up or anything. And he was just an amazing man. He looked at my items that I had made and he gave me a couple of, you know, he said, this is great and you know, different things. Talk to me about my business plan. He asked me how much my, you know, I'm charging for that item. And he said, "well, the first thing you're doing is you're selling yourself short". And I had told him about a particular Gucci bag that I've had my eye on, but I refuse to buy it. I'm going to make it myself. And he said, "absolutely, do not buy it." He said, "because you can make a better quality bag yourself." And their bags are usually not even a good quality leather. So it's all about really, like you said, using your resources. I go to two local tanneries where I know that I'm going to get, actually the one that I use, they sell me the same leather that Louis Vuitton purchases to make their leather bag.

Lisa: (35:50)

Bonita: (35:50)
So, you know, it's all about just, yeah, it's all about quality, believing in yourself and like he said, you know, don't sell yourself short and just keep practicing, practicing your craft and you know, no one will be able to hold a candle to it. So it was an amazing opportunity.

Lisa: (36:07)
What a great boost. Oh my gosh, that is so nice. Well, that's a good segue into talking about your time at fashion week this year and the pre shows that you did. Tell us a bit about those and how those went.

Bonita: (36:20)
Yeah, it was, uh, you know, I've been sewing for, like I said, a long time and I, I love just New York is a wonderful place for fashion any day of the week, but New York fashion, we just, being in that environment, I S to me, I say, if something in the air, you can smell it. It just gives me energy. Maybe because I love fashion, I don't know, but fashion week is amazing and I've gone to different shows at fashion week. The being on the other side of it and actually being able to show some of my own work was really pretty amazing. It was pretty cool. Um, and it was nice. It was interesting bloggers come out, um, people that own stores come out and they look at your things and they, you know, interview you. So it's pretty interesting. Um, it was something very visible, a lot of work. Um, not all glitz and glamour for sure. And my first time in, I'm hoping next year to be bigger and better, but it was very, very exciting to actually see your work come from an idea to an actual fashion show. .

Lisa: (37:30)
Do you have a memory of any particular conversation or sighting or discussion point, um, that you remember from the experience?

Bonita: (37:42)
Um, you know, something did occur that was pretty cool. Um, either all types of different people there. Wendy Williams, different people in and out, not so friendly, some friendly. And I happened to be coming out of a show and I saw a stylist that I follow and who follows me back on Instagram. Um, his name is Derek Warburton. I mean, it's not anybody that most people would probably recognize, but I just liked his sense of style. And when I did the TV interview on channel five, one of my designs that I showed was his face because he's got a beautiful Adam blonde hair and I just love his style. And walking out of the show, he was walking right past me. And so I turned to him and you know, we started talking and I felt that was pretty cool, you know, to actually see somebody that has the same, um, interest and sense of style to be down to earth and we're all at the end of the day, just the same trying to make it, you know, but he appreciated the fact that I did something, um, that represented him and I appreciated the fact that he, you know, he saw the vision in my work.

Lisa: (38:53)
Hope we, Oh, you all enjoyed the conversation with Bonita Hinton as much as I did. You can find out more about her work and see the beautiful images on Instagram at baby cakes, bags and rags, and you can also check out her Facebook group, also called baby cakes bags and [inaudible]

Music: (39:09)

Lisa: (39:21)
Thank you for joining us for today's episode of stitch please the black women's stitch podcast. Let's continue the conversation. Come find us on the socials. We're at black women's stitch on Instagram where we have a very active page and you can also find us on stitch please on Facebook. We also would love to hear from you, so feel free to email us at black women's there are three big ways you can support this project and one of them you're doing already by listening to the podcast, you're really helping us, so thank you for doing that. In addition, if you rate review, subscribe and share the podcast with other folks, that helps the podcast to grow and it also gives the algorithm that managed podcast information that will also help our podcast thrive. The third way to help the podcast is for those of you all who happen to have a little extra change, burning a hole in your pocket and if you don't have any plans to use it to buy your 20th or in my case 378th big four pattern, that's how many I have in my top pattern drawer about 378 patterns.

Lisa: (40:28)
You could take that money that you would spend at the pattern sale and give it to us. We are accepting donations at our Patreon site where you can donate as little as $2 a month or you could buy us a coffee at K O. Dot. F I and small donations are greatly accepted and appreciated so thank you for considering that. If you would like a transcript of this episode, you can find that at our website at and we also ask that you check the show notes where we have lots of additional information and supplemental information for what we discussed in the podcast. You can find affiliate links there for the products that we like. You can find web links to the black women that we've been talking about here on the show to elevate and center their work, and you can also find the info we mentioned about donations as well as our email link. All of that is thanks again for joining us today. We look forward to seeing you next time. Come back 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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