Studio Tissue 8 with Chris Cooper

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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.

Guest: Chris Cooper is the owner of Studio Tissue8 and is a Master Seamstress with over 30 years of professional experience specializing in bridal/wedding gowns. Having started sewing for dolls, Chris has transcended all her fears and become a master seamstress and shares her gift of sewing through her store, Studio Tissue8, which offers various services, including its signature Valet Service for Alterations.

Insights from this episode:

  • Insights into Chris’ work
  • How Chris is sharing her gift of sewing with other people
  • Chris’ journey into sewing
  • How she came up with the name Studio Tissue8
  • Her journey running Studio Tissue8
  • Chris’ commitment to sharing her gift of sewing
  • How sewing allows her to think and process her problems
  • Chris’ fear of getting started on her journey and how she overcame it

Quotes from the show:

  • “I distinctly remember thinking that it was a gift [sewing] because it was never hard for me, it kinda just came to me” – Chris Cooper in “Stitch Please”
  • “It was gifted to you so you wanna offer that and amplify that so that other people can have the benefit from it, but also know how to do it themselves as well” – Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “There is something about that fabric in my hand, and the sound of the sewing machine that just puts me at total ease” – Chris Cooper in “Stitch Please”
  • “I don’t think ‘I can’t do’ it’s just that I have never done it before” – Chris Cooper in “Stitch Please”
  • “Something that I tend to think about fear is that sometimes your victory is on the other side of fear” – Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”
  • “You’re never gonna do anything that you wanna do unless you get yourself out of this fear thing” – Chris Cooper in “Stitch Please”
  • “Fear is what pushes you, fear is what makes you do things that are out of your comfort zone. If you don’t have fear, then maybe something is not right” – Chris Cooper in “Stitch Please”
  • “When I have fear, it sometimes helps me to get the additional information and to find possibility models” – Lisa Woolfork in “Stitch Please”

Stay Connected:

Lisa Woolfork

Instagram: Lisa Woolfork

Twitter: Lisa Woolfork

Chris Cooper

Website: Studio Tissue8 

Instagram: ​​Studio Tissue8 

Read Full Transcript

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. I am your host, Lisa Woolfork. And as I say every week this is a very special episode. Because for this episode, I am talking with the one, the only, Chris Cooper! You know how they say "say it with your chest when you're really proud of something? When you really know You are who you are." Chris Cooper, today folks, is saying it with her chest and if you were a Patreon supporter (and why are you not? You totally should be? #PayBlackWomen), you will see that Chris Cooper is a master seamstress and I am not guessing, I am affirming because she has told us this and it is right there on her shirt. So welcome, Chris to the podcast. Thank you so much for being with us today.

Chris Cooper 1:22  

Hi, Lisa! Thank you so much for having me. I feel so honored. I watch you. And most of the time when I watch you, I'm in tears so I can really see and hear what's going on. But thank you so much for having me. I'm so honored.

Lisa Woolfork 1:35  

This is such an exciting development for us. I am super, super glad to learn more about your work to talk about Studio Tissue 8 to talk about couture, sewing fashion, designing all of the stuff that you do all the products and services you offer. But I want to begin at the beginning, and from what I see from your story is that you started at a very young age with almost like a mission-driven sewing project. So can you talk about some of your.... I was thinking specifically about the stack of naked dolls that you were given as a child to work on.

Chris Cooper 2:06  

That was the very beginning. Unbeknownst to me, I would be where I am today. But my sister who at the time worked for a corporation and they had community groups and things of that nature and she belong to the women's group. I think it may have been called something else. But it was the women's group. And they were this particular Christmas they were charged with dressing doll babies and taking them back to their community. So, she brings these doll babies home. It's a box of doll babies, I think maybe 16. I want to say well, maybe not that many maybe 10 or 12. But their all naked. At the time, my mother's raising four girls basically by herself. So here comes my sister with eight more or 12 More girls that eat clothing. And so, my sister fabulous dresser but knows nothing about dressmaking. None of us knew anything about sewing, my grandmother had given my mother a sewing machine that was in the closet, it was a Kenmore, it was in the closet. And I was like well, I can't let the dolls just sit here and we got to do something. And so, I just started playing around with my mother's pillowcases. I thought she was gonna bring me out the house, I was eight years old, that would have been hard.

Lisa Woolfork 3:11  

That would have been very hard. 

Chris Cooper 3:12  

That would have been very hard. 

Lisa Woolfork 3:13  

it would have been very hard to become Chris Cooper, master seamstress, if your mama puts you out at eight for cutting up her good pillowcases, but she did not find out. So, we continue.

Chris Cooper 3:22  

So, I kept trying and try until I got something that looked close to clothing for doll baby. And I did them all. And my sister took them away. But I remember as I was doing them, I remember saying to myself, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. I mean, it was almost like that.

Lisa Woolfork 3:42  

Wow. 

Chris Cooper 3:43  

And so, then I proceeded to teach myself how to sew missing out a lot of fabric. And there was a store I think it was called Gaylord at that time. It changed many things, but I think it was called Gaylords. And they sold fabric and they had patterns. And then there was another store downtown Wilmington called Joy trim where you could get trim, and I mean they had everything you name I think they sold everything but cars. Wow. And so, between my mother's pillowcases and sheets and store that was in our neighborhood and the store downtown. I just taught myself to sew. A little later on maybe when I was about 12, because I was in junior high school there was a gentleman who lived in my neighborhood. His name was Joe Brunskill. He graduated from Ferguson. I think it was originally from Pennsylvania from Chester, but he lived in Wilmington, he found out about me, he took me under his wings, he became my mentor. And it's so funny because when he took me under his wings, he was embarking on a stage play costuming for stage play, okay, he threw me right in he was like, what you're going to do it and I was like, I've not done this before and everything that I've done up until this point has been for me no one else had seen it. So, I mean, I learned on the fly. I really did. I learned on the fly

Lisa Woolfork 4:57  

and so, you were 12? Are you saying that when you were 12 You were working on costuming, a stage play? There was another interesting detail in your bio that I want to hear more about. And I want to hear this was before or after... on your site, it says that you were like maybe in sixth grade or so that you took a formal sewing class that you ended up knowing more than the teacher. Yes. And so, I'm like, wait a minute. I'm like, how does the sixth grader know more than the teacher does about, so it was this after you started working with this designer or even beforehand,

Chris Cooper 5:28  

it was during a kind of happened at the same time, but it was back when schools offered home economics and you had to do the whole circuit, the block, cooking, sewing, cleaning, whatever else

Lisa Woolfork 5:39  

right? 

Chris Cooper 5:40  

Sewing of course, was my first choice. At that time. The teacher she had just graduated. I don't even think they do this anymore. But she had just graduated from college, and she was technically doing an internship. I think they named it something else back then. But she was doing an internship. Now think about this. What is your 22... when you graduate from college? Yes. She comes to the city goes to an all-Black school.

Lisa Woolfork 6:03  

Okay. Is this a white lady or Black lady?

Chris Cooper 6:04  

She's white. Okay. She's 21/22. And she's in this school. The school it was called Burnett Middle School with had eight floors. 

Lisa Woolfork 6:12  

Wow. 

Chris Cooper 6:12  

eight floors of African American kids. 

Lisa Woolfork 6:15  

That's a huge school. 

Chris Cooper 6:16  

Yes, they tore it down last year, but she was frightened out of her mind. 

Lisa Woolfork 6:21  

Oh my gosh

Chris Cooper 6:22  

She could not see her feet in front of one another. So, I convinced my girlfriend to take this class with me. 

Lisa Woolfork 6:29  

You go

Chris Cooper 6:30  

she pricked her finger and quit never came back. 

Lisa Woolfork 6:34  

Oh Wow. 

Chris Cooper 6:35  

To this day. She bothers me about it.

Lisa Woolfork 6:37  

Chris is trying to kill me. I thought we were friends. But she took me to this white lady house you took to this white lady classroom. And I sat there and then the machine stabbed me. And I'm done. There's a very terrified white lady here who was supposed to be our teacher. But she's apparently also afraid of Black people or Black children. And I'm not getting a lot accomplished. So, I'm out it but you stay. How'd that go?

Chris Cooper 6:58  

I stayed. And I made my skirt. I taught everybody else how to sew. Oh, she couldn't believe I made.... I know you will remember this. It was a rat skirt. It was tangerine. And it had to two pockets to 

Lisa Woolfork 7:10  

Yes. Yeah. 

Chris Cooper 7:11  

She was like, how did you know how to do this? And I was like, well, you know, first, I believe it was a gift. And then I just homed in on it. And she was like, oh my goodness, she was blown out of the water. But I ended up teaching the class

Lisa Woolfork 7:23  

Yeah, that's nonsense. It's what I like to call pedagogical malpractice. And you know, of course, you can laugh about it now because you survived it right? But what you're describing is not okay. It's not neutral. What she did was wrong.

Chris Cooper 7:38  

No, they should have never put her there. They should have never put her there. They should have put her in a more balanced environment.

Lisa Woolfork 7:44  

I think if she's afraid of Black people, she should teach no one.

Chris Cooper 7:47  

Well, this is true. But this was also when 1972

Lisa Woolfork 7:51  

I don't care. I don't care. I don't care if it was 1962. I don't care if it was in 1862. And we have histories of white teachers being terrified of Black people in every single one of those eras. I mentioned. No, this is 1972. We had color television in good times just about to get kicking off. No, thank you. No, no. No, come here. And Dangerous Minds me. You're not gonna come here and do that white savior narrative in this classroom? No, man. 

Chris Cooper 7:51  

Yes

Lisa Woolfork 7:53  

 I'll teach us I'll teach us. So, you survived the sewing class. And you ended up teaching the sewing class. And because your spark was lit so early, it just sounds to me like because you were creating these doll outfits to give to other people, to kind of brighten other kids lives. I am wondering if when you said this is what I want to do for the rest of my life. When you said those words. Were you moved by the process of solving the problem of how do I make doll clothes? How do I make it look nice? Or were you like, I want to make something look nice. So, I can make another child smile. Do you recall at all what you were motivated by in terms of the actual sewing? Can you're able to go back and think that far?

Chris Cooper 8:59  

It's kind of like both but I distinctly remember thinking that it was a gift because it was never hard for me. 

Lisa Woolfork 9:06  

Yes. 

Chris Cooper 9:07  

It just came to me. Like if I did something wrong, the correct way just popped in my head. And I never had to work at it. And even now, I don't have to work at it. I just do it, things I've never done before. I mean, I remember doing cushions for a boat. And I'm like, why are these people asking you to do all this crazy stuff? They loved it. I mean, I just know I just innately know how to do it. For me the type of that which I call a gift. I feel like I need to share it. I feel like I can't hold on to it. I got to share it It's a little of both. Yeah,

Lisa Woolfork 9:41  

it was gifted to you. So, you want to offer that and amplify that so other people can have the benefit from it but also know how to do it themselves as well that this gift that you have is a gift that you can help other people give themselves exactly learning. Oh, I love that. I absolutely love that. So, do you mean What the stage production was what was the show? And what were possibilities. It was

Chris Cooper 10:05  

at the Playhouse, which was then owned by the DuPont Company, and it was at the DuPont hotel in Wilmington, Delaware and the play was by BeBe Kroger. And I want to say it was called "Something about T". 

Lisa Woolfork 10:18  

Okay

Chris Cooper 10:19  

 I don't remember the exact name of it. But if you know BeBe Koger, you know that she did a play and Wilmington Playhouse 

Lisa Woolfork 10:26  

Excellent. 

Chris Cooper 10:27  

And I remember cutting out the dresses, they were probably Esther, and they were what I would consider now like a swing dress. 

Lisa Woolfork 10:35  

Yes

Chris Cooper 10:36  

 it was a fitted bodice and a swing skirt. And I remember him handed me the pieces in pattern paper. It was cut out in muslin. Wow, that was the pattern. Yeah. And the pieces were numbered. And he was like, Okay, you're going to cut out five of these five of these, five of these and five of these. Now he didn't give me any pens, but he gave me a pair of scissors. 

Lisa Woolfork 10:56  

Wow

Chris Cooper 10:57  

that was like what am I gonna do this and he was like, put the piece of Muslin pattern down and put your hand on it and cut around it. 

Lisa Woolfork 11:04  

Wow. 

Chris Cooper 11:07  

And that's what I did.

Lisa Woolfork 11:08  

Wow, that's incredible. That is really awesome. I'm gonna take a quick pause here and y'all we're gonna take a short break and when we come back, we're gonna hear more from Chris thank you so much. 

September is National Sewing month, and the "Stitch Please" podcast is going to celebrate that like we celebrate every episode by centering Black women girls and femmes in sewing for September however, we are going to be talking with Black women authors who are also sewist. So, tune in for the month of September, and you will hear from writers like Bianca Springer, Akima Hapa, Leslie Ware, Olubunmi Sola, Rue De Perkovic, and more. So, listen out for September, and we will help you get your stitch together. 

All right, everybody, we are back. I am talking today with Chris Cooper, master seamstress and the owner proprietor of Studio Tissue Eight when she is talking to us about her background and learning to sew in a very organic way that feels almost like she wasn't so much learning but maybe remembering or practicing it because her sewing is a gift. And her work is a gift that she wants to help other folks. So, you said you would offer free classes at the public library, what made you turn to that as a form of reaching out to folks and helping folks learn how to sew more?

Chris Cooper 12:41  

when I relocated to DC in 2007. I knew no one here outside of my one girlfriend who lived in Maryland and really didn't have any connects in DC. And my son started a family who lived in Virginia. So, I was basically here really by myself. I mean I packed up everything I always knew I was with my son graduated from college, but I didn't know where. I sold everything. I had, car, everything and moved to DC, no job. No nothing. But I knew how to sew. In the past that has always been my fallback. So not knowing anybody. I was like I got to figure out a way to network and to start to meet people when this that the other I can only do that through so on because that's what I do. Yeah. And so, I was like, okay, so figure out a way to reach my community. This is a no brainer; this is what I'm thinking. this is a no brainer. Parents can drop their kids off at the library for two hours. 

Lisa Woolfork 13:35  

Yes. 

Chris Cooper 13:36  

When I started doing it, I said, Okay, it's not working in my community. Let me try other communities. And so, I began doing that I had a little bit of success in the beginning. But then eventually, I guess people for whatever reason, didn't come or whatever, where I would have one or two or something like that. But it was just also another form of me giving back. At some point I got to the point of it doesn't matter. I'm here if they want to come on here, this is my give back. And I can't worry about what other people think or do 

Lisa Woolfork 14:08  

right? 

Chris Cooper 14:08  

As long as I'm doing my part. And that's how I arrived at

Lisa Woolfork 14:11  

it. Oh, I love that so much. Because it's kind of like one of those things about like if a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound right? I always thought of course it makes a sound. How arrogant do you have to be to think that just because I wasn't there to hear it. It has no sound. That's nonsense. And so, what you're describing is how you were so committed to sharing the gift of sewing that all you want to do is share it, you're sharing it, you're sharing it, you're sharing it, you're putting it out there, whether somebody takes it or not. Your task is complete. Your task was the sharing, right? You can't be on both sides. You can't be sharing and worried about who's gonna get it and how they're gonna receive and it will they come back? No, you're only responsible for one part of that equation. So now that you're running Studio Tissue Eight, can you talk about how that name come to you and what does that mean? If it means something?

Chris Cooper 15:08  

Yes, Studio Tissue Eight came to me my son is a graphic designer and all this kind of stuff. So, I was like, what name should I use? And he was hitting a brick wall too. So, I was like, Okay, so let's think about what it is that I'm doing. Studio, to me always mean something is happening, some type of art form, I think. And then tissue can be used in different ways, but Fritsch is fabric. Yes, that's right. You know, something in your hand fabric. And then as I began sewing when I was eight,

Lisa Woolfork 15:37  

oh, my gosh, I think I've mentioned on this very short broadcast three times that you were eight years old when you started sewing. And now like studio tissue, eight, I wonder where that came from? I have no idea. And then you say that this like, Oh, wow. All the Rubik's Cube boxes, click into place. Oh, that's wonderful. You know, I'm thinking about studio. Because I agree with you. When I hear the word studio, I think about art. Somehow art is happening. But I’m wondering too because Studio can be both a noun and a verb. It feels like to me, right? Like the studio is the place the box, the container, where you have all your stuff, but it's also the processes that you are doing when you are in that space that you are doing the work of the studio by designing and drawing and sketching and cutting and sewing and unscrewing and re sewing and shape all of those things. Can you talk a bit about when you are sharing the gift of sewing or sharing the practice of sewing? Do you see it as a noun? Or do you see it as a verb? Do you see it as something that is an art practice an art forms a craft a practice like a philosophical or therapeutic practice? Like it can be so many things. I wonder which of those are the most important aspects for your own sewing the idea of it as a noun. Or the idea of it as a verb?

Chris Cooper 16:59  

Wow, Lisa, it's all of those things. For me. It really is. And I think most importantly, it's therapeutic.

Lisa Woolfork 17:06  

I love that.

Chris Cooper 17:07  

Yes, I'm a middle of the night sewer middle of the night, early morning. I can't get crap done during the day. I just really can't, like, I cannot focus because everybody's awake. Everybody's up. Everybody's moving around. And so, during the day, there's so many things happening. But in the middle of the night, it's quiet. People say how can you meditate when you're sewing? I don't need to keep still. That's right. I really don't to meditate. But there's something about that fabric in my hand. And the sound of the sewing machine just puts me at total ease. Listen, I have a lot of problems in my head when I'm sewing

Lisa Woolfork 17:45  

when you so do you listen to music? Do you listen to podcasts? Do you like silence? What does the sewing vibe? What is your middle of the night sewing vibe like and I'll tell you about my have the same time?

Chris Cooper 17:58  

I usually listen to music I came from a jazz family. Clifford Brown is a relative of mine. 

Lisa Woolfork 18:04  

Wonderful. 

Chris Cooper 18:04  

So, I listen to jazz most of the time if I'm really focused in and I really need to figure something out dead silent. But most of the time, it's music most of the time. It's jazz, every now and then, like if I missed one of your podcasts, I'll listen. If I miss something, and I really need to watch it or listen to it, then I will but it's rare. It's rare.

Lisa Woolfork 18:27  

It reminds me like your process. I am a late-night person. I sometimes feel like I'm an omnivores and people that eat everything. Are you a night owl or an early bird? And I'm like, yes, both because I want to stay up late. But I also want to get up early because I don't like to miss things. And so, it means that I'm often very exhausted. But I do remember, I still have the routine that you described. I like to stay up late, I tend to go to bed way later than anybody should at 3:30 in the morning, whatever. It's not okay, I do not recommend but you know what I feel like I'm still stuck in the times when my kids were little. There were always demands, there were always questions, there were always something that I needed to do. And if I wanted time to myself, and I wanted the house to be quiet, I had to wait until everybody went to bed. And now, because my kids are grown, and one is with us here but working full time and the other one is at college. And so essentially, I have a quiet house. There's no need for me to wait until two o'clock in the morning to do anything. And yet here we are. And yet still like nobody is "Mama Mama", like tapping me on the shoulder while I'm asleep to say, are you awake? No one's doing that anymore. And so those habits are kind of hard to break. And I guess what I'm interested in is the way that sewing brings ease into your thinking process, right? that you can use this as a moment to say, you know what, I'm going to figure this out. And in order to do so, I'm going to work on this garment, and I'm not going to listen to anything that requires my attention. I'm just going to focus on doing this sewing work. And then in the back of my head, this idea will also be perkily. Is that how it kind of works for you? And you sit down and you're like, oh, I have this dilemma, or I'm unsure about how to approach this. Do you have an example if you could share one about how sewing has been that type of process that allows you to think or to process problems or ideas or concepts or things that have come to you during sewing?

Chris Cooper 20:27  

you only know these things if you're sewer, or if you're an artist. And though it's all of those things if there's something... I don't want to say, I can't do, but I say on the spot, I may not be able to figure it out on the spot. 

Lisa Woolfork 20:41  

Yes

Chris Cooper 20:42  

 normally, what I do is I look at it and think about it every single day until I'm actually ready to work on it. Because at any given time, like now I have 20 gowns that I'm working on. They're all similar because they're from the same retailer. So, they're all similar. But there's two that I just can't even imagine how to alter, I keep looking at them thinking "I'm running out of time, I need to figure it out." So, I'm going to my focus is getting everything else done. And these two that are left, I'm going to dedicate my time and my thought process to that. Do a little bit of research and try to figure out how to accomplish and like I said, I don't think I can't do it. It's just that I've never done it before.

Lisa Woolfork 21:25  

Yes, that is it. And you know what that reminds me of? We talked a little earlier y'all about fear. And I would like to talk about fear. I like to talk about it the way that you talked about it. Can you shed some light on the story about how fear was something you had to recognize, and then work through and to come out on the other side, because something that I tend to think about fear is that sometimes your victory is on the other side of fear? And that's what your story seems to suggest. Can you talk a little bit about the fear that you had when you were first getting started? Or the fear that you had when you returned in 2007 and opened up the shop in 2008? How did fear and overcoming that because really, it's not about the fear. It's about the overcoming that I find so powerful. Can you share some of that story with us?

Chris Cooper 22:12  

On the other side of every fear is victory. I've never been a fearful person moving to DC with no job, no nothing, no car, no nothing just in itself. It's fearful. Because it's an ever-moving city. I mean, it's not New York, but it's very close, like people are moving, people are moving, people seem to be very cliquish here. I hate to say that because we always say women are cliquish. And this that and the other but I'm telling you in DC, it's an absolute real thing 

Lisa Woolfork 22:42  

Congress is clicky as hell if you think about it 

Chris Cooper 22:44  

Please, 

Lisa Woolfork 22:46  

Congress 

Chris Cooper 22:47  

not enough

Lisa Woolfork 22:48  

ever reject these those women are click women are backstabbing, I'm like, have you met men?

Chris Cooper 22:53  

Exactly. And how many of them have you met? but anyway, so coming to DC having a storefront and then that closing... the fear of continuing my business was real. And it kept me really from doing what I wanted to do for at least a year. And then I just thought, like, what is wrong with me? Like what's happening to me, not other people, I did some soul searching for me. And I was like, okay, you've never been fearful. I mean, you know, you give yourself to come to Jesus talk all the time, morning, noon, and breakfast at night. And I was just like, Okay, you're never going to do anything that you want to do if you don't get out of this fear thing. And so, I did, I just said, you know what, again, after here, I'm doing my part, eventually people will come and that is exactly what happened. Now granted, some of the fears took place at that fear

Lisa Woolfork 23:46  

that's the thing about fear once you get over fun, that's like a dog whatever the hormone that controls fear, it'll keep making it. It will keep making new fears once you get rid of one, they'll just keep going out add new one in.

Chris Cooper 23:57  

And I mean, I've had people tell me and therapists tell me... that's normal. Fear is what pushes you. Fear is what makes you do things out of your comfort zone. If you don't be afraid, then maybe something's not right because you should fear something. But like you said, how you overcome it and how you get to that victory is what is the most important. so, on the other side of that victory is now 

Lisa Woolfork 24:23  

Yes.

I love your now I love your now oh my god.

Chris Cooper 24:30  

So, one fear I have is growing old...growing older, I should say and not seeing my grandkids. I feel confident that I will see them graduate from school, graduate from college, but that's probably it. I'm probably not going to see your wedding or anything like that. And that is my biggest fear. So, people say well, then your fear you're afraid of dying. I'm not afraid of that. I just want to see my kids. 

Lisa Woolfork 24:55  

You don't want to miss anything. 

Chris Cooper 24:56  

I don't want to miss anything.

Lisa Woolfork 24:58  

You want to stay up late and get up early. You right? You're gonna use all your time, 

Chris Cooper 25:02  

Rubbing my eyes. 

Lisa Woolfork 25:03  

Exactly, exactly. And here's the thing that I just thinking about midlife. And growing into that, I have to tell you the thing that has helped me, which is something that might help all of us... is Black women. And there's two Black women in particular that I absolutely love, who are doing the midlife space for Black women in their late 40s, early 50s, 60s, like talking with us about menopause and about being fly and amazing at any age and fighting against ageism, and all of these things. And that is Omisade Burney-Scott. And she runs the Black Girls Guide to Menopause, which is a podcast, she's got wonderful products, and she's amazing, I love her. And then also my friend, we were in Girl Scouts together, believe it or not, and now she is known on Instagram and elsewhere as yo fly Auntie Kendra Lindsey and she has a podcast. But she also does a lot of influencing in the beauty and hair makeup space and just saying, hey, love your age, beautiful at any age, not beautiful, despite your age or beautiful for your age. Beautiful. It's the beginning, middle and end of all the sentences. And so, I think what I be afraid, it sometimes helps me to get additional information and to find possibility models. The reason I wanted to kind of talk about that or turn to that question with you is because where you are now is so thriving, and wonderful. And I wonder if you look back and say thank you, Chris Cooper from 2008, thank you for getting past that fear and working through that fear in 2009. Thank you for bringing me to this point. Do you ever pause when you're doing your meditation of sewing or other practices that you pause and thank yourself for what you've done so far?

Chris Cooper 26:53  

I don't actually and here's the thing. First of all, thank you for sharing that information about the two young ladies and I will get that information from you. And definitely follow, because I firmly believe that if we all stick together, we can become better people, better ourselves, better women and so on. Yeah. But when people talk about me, like my girlfriends when we go out and get someone there that I've not met, or they say Oh, this is my girlfriend, Chris, she's an amazing seamstress. And I'm thinking to myself, "Why'd you have to go say that?"

Lisa Woolfork 27:20  

because it's true.

Chris Cooper 27:22  

It just feels weird. I don't want the spotlight to be on me kind of thing. I'm trying my best to get away from that. And there have been.... most recently there's been moments where I've you know, patted myself on the back and I've probably made one or two posts about you should have a seamstress like me in your back pocket or those kinds of things. But I still shy away from it. But I know I'm beautifully made 

Lisa Woolfork 27:47  

yes 

Chris Cooper 27:48  

through God. And I know all this, and everybody said that took like shy. I don't know. 

Lisa Woolfork 27:54  

You letting it shine, you are letting it shine. I am looking at it right now. And again, Patreon people and those who will soon become Patreon people you want to see the shirt she's got on the way that it radiates with your hair and your smile and your eyes and all of it. It is light, it is all light. The joy in your laughter all of that is the best that we can hope for. I've got to ask you a question that I asked everybody Chris, I'm gonna ask you. What would you say to our listeners because the slogan of Stitch Please podcast which you might know is we will help you get your stitch together? What would you do? What would you offer? What advice do you have for our listeners to help them get their stitch together?

Chris Cooper 28:36  

get your stitch together means a lot more than just sewing on a sewing machine to me. It means as a human, but as a woman, get yourself together. that that's the way I take it. Get yourself together always talk about bit matters and to me that's the same thing is get your stitch together. When you walk out your door are you fit? Is your stitch together. How do you present yourself? How do you show up? Everybody knows to show up differently than other races, That's not a secret 

Lisa Woolfork 29:06  

oh Gosh,

it's definitely not here at Black Women Stitch. What do you mean? What is this racism? You mean? What are this do you speak? is this Angela Davis? Shirley Chisholm embroidery and this Angela Davis embroidery about racism like I don't understand what you mean Black people are oppressed say more. 

Chris Cooper 29:21  

That's how I view the get your stitch together to me. How are you going to show up to me? It's much more than a superficial thing. It's a holistic thing. Yeah, your hair looks good. Your nails are done. Your makeup is on point whatever you got the best stilettos on all of. it's that inside.

Lisa Woolfork 29:38  

Exactly. Because I don't have any of that stuff.

Chris Cooper 29:40  

Right? whatever's inside. That's the beauty and you all of this other hair and stuff. It's just icing. 

Lisa Woolfork 29:46  

Yes, it is... icing

Chris Cooper 29:47  

icing on the cake. So that's what gets us this together. So, get yourself together. That's my advice. Get yourself together. Call me. I'll get your clothes together and we got to deal. 

Lisa Woolfork 29:57  

Love it! All right, Chris. You know what? I've been working on doing bonuses for Patreon is so after we're going to end here right now, but y'all I'm gonna ask Chris to tell us in the bonus section of the episode to tell us about any type of raggedy/nightmare clients with alterations because you know falterers, like hairdressers got stories for days. So, if you want to hear some more tea, you need to come to the bonus episode, which is for Patreon. Only, Chris, thank you so much for being with us today. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Chris Cooper 30:29  

Thank you for having me again. I'm so honored and I just think that you are so amazing and so funny. I want to be like you when I grew up.

Lisa Woolfork 30:38  

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

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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