At the tender age of five, Yolanda Jamison used a needle and thread to sew a bathing suit out of an old yellow curtain with a floral pattern. The little girl from Los Angeles was living in Mississippi with her grandmother who was a talented seamstress. Jamison wanted to follow in her grandma’s footsteps and make outfits of her own.
When she finished her bathing suit, she proudly put it on and jumped into a swimming pool. The loosely sewn hem quickly came apart, causing her first self-made clothing item to disassemble in the water.
“I probably didn’t put a knot at the end,” Jamison recalls with a cheerful laugh. “That’s the first time I can remember sewing.”
Since then, Jamison has never stopped sewing. She’s the owner of Sew Contagious, a unique company that offers on location sewing classes and parties for kids and adults in Los Angeles County.
“Sewing gets the kids to think differently. They can’t have a phone with them. You can see the kids calm down because they’re interested in getting their project completed,” she says.
Jamison also sells clothing on Etsy and works with theater companies frequently creating hundreds of costumes for big productions. She works from her home studio where she has a neatly organized room full of thread, ribbon, fabrics, appliques and sewing machines.
Ironically, the crafty Los Angeles mom never took a formal sewing class. She never attended fashion school, nor did she work for any fashion design companies. Her only experience came from watching her grandmother build perfectly tailored garments from scratch in Mississippi.
“To me, sewing is therapeutic. It calms me down and relaxes me. In fact, I’m working on a top for me right now.”
In 2007, Jamison who was working for a retail department chain was faced with a decision to either relocate out of Los Angeles or lose a job. She decided to stay in Los Angeles, take care of her own kids and pursue her sewing and fashion dreams. She had already been successful at making her own clothes, including her own wedding gown and she had an inclination to launch her own fashion line. So she went for it. She created a kids fashion line that was picked up by several high end boutiques including Smooch owned by the Kardashian sisters in Calabasas.
“I was the one doing all the sewing. I was up all night,” she recalls. “Looking back, that was kind of crazy.”
The kids clothing line became too overwhelming for Jamison during a time when her kids, now ages 18 and 23, needed her most. She redirected her focus and without losing ground on her love for sewing, she opened Sew Contagious in 2010. Today, Jamison is looking into ways of expanding her business by moving into a retail space where she can offer a schedule of classes and a party space for kids to learn to sew.
Her advice to moms who want to start a business in Los Angeles: “I would say take the advice you would give to a friend would came to you with their dreams and goals. Take your own advice, you control the fear so it doesn’t control you!”
Mommy In Los Angeles® had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with Yolanda Jamison. We enjoyed listening to her story and support her efforts to bring young children in Los Angeles the lost art of sewing!
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