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  • Writer's pictureAndi Settlemoir Barney

Sewing Doc Trade School?

Honestly, we have been so tied up in putting action to our plans that we've completely forgotten to give you all a heads up on Sewing Doc's future plans!

One of the hardest issues small businesses face is how to handle growth. We are so blessed and so humbled that our customer base has grown beyond measure over the last 8 years. I started as a home-hobby business many years ago, and honestly, it hadn't really occurred to me that this would be a steady income for my family. Demand is what changed that.

3 years ago, I moved my business into the Red Hen Stitch Shop when Brie and I became owners, and my business has doubled (or more!) every year that we've been there. Which is fantastic! Helping people have a great sewing experience is what drives me every day.

With growth comes the need for, well, more technicians. And guess what? That's not easy! My previous blog post covers the three main avenues of learning sewing machine service, and while each can kick start anyone's interest, none of them really prepare a person for a future as a technician for a fast-paced service shop.

As it is now, the only way to expand our technician staff is to train someone ourselves. And while we love this, it is just not practical. Learning machine service and repair is not a quick weekend course, it is a foundation of knowledge built with lots and lots of hands-on experience. We've really struggled with this part, to be honest with you.

I have literally lost a lot of sleep over how one grows a service business when it's not a quick and easy skill to achieve. One night while fretting over how to handle the backlog of machines, it occurred to me that the answer is to build a program that teaches potential technicians the art of sewing machine service. I woke up really excited the next day, and yet, mentally intimidated by the vast undertaking.

I scoured the internet and while some small programs are cropping up, I am still shocked and amazed that no such trade school or vocational school exists to teach this skill. Dealers certainly dominate the industry, offering their technicians hands-on training, but it is my understanding that they are only trained on the last decade or so of machines. This leaves a huge gap in the industry.

So we are answering the call! It is our long-term goal to truly build a comprehensive trade school, or vocational school. In the short term, we will start rolling out workshops broken up by skill, and they will be appropriate for both hobbyists that just want to learn and play, and also for those seeking a career in sewing machine service. We will offer full certification within the next two years, and all of this will lead to a school that will not only teach the mechanics of sewing machine service, but also how to run the business side. Much of it will be ongoing education, as knowledge comes with experience. In my studies, I've learned that having the skill to fix sewing machines is not equal to knowing how to market, build, and sustain a small business, so we think it's important to include all of these components.

All of our classes are starting off as live, in-person classes in Marietta, Georgia, but we would love to partner with quilt shops, guilds and any other organization or business that will host us in their space around the country. So if you aren't local and would love for us to teach in your area, please let us know!

As we progress, we will begin offering all our classes and workshops online as well, so you can learn remotely. We won't be able to test for certification remotely, but we are partnering with shops and organizations across the country to schedule annual certification testing to try and reduce travel costs as much as possible. Part of that will be an ongoing, subscription-based knowledge bank to keep adding to your skill and progression.

So tell us, are you interested in learning sewing machine service? Do you dream a side income, second career, or building your own sewing machine service empire? Tell us about it in the comments!

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