I’m so glad you’re here. Seriously. Everyone says that, but I really mean it. Why? Because it means you are interested in my big, brave, boundary-pushing experiment. What is this wacky concept, how does it work, and where did it come from?
There’s a lot of ground to cover. I was born in… Wait, scratch that. My first message to you is this: You are welcome here. Who are you?
- You’re someone who took home economics class in middle school in the 1960s/70s/80s.
- You’re a college kid with a thrift-store find that needs a few alterations.
- You’re a new mom itching to get out of the house and do something creative, like make a quilt.
- You’re a hobby-sewist who lives in a teeny 1-BR apartment.
- You’re a trans person who wants to make some new or customized clothing.
- You’re a DIYer who can’t bear to put something in the landfill when all it needs is a little TLC.
- You’re a retiree looking for a social hobby.
- You’re underemployed and hoping to build some skills to expand your economic opportunities.
- You’re a person with a cognitive or physical disability who wants to experience the joy of sewing.
Whomever you are, you are welcome here.
My main goal in opening the business was to provide a platform for you to have a self-directed creative experience. That’s what I wanted for myself, and decided I may as well start the business instead of waiting for someone else to do it. I had done extensive research on flexible workers, telecommuters, and co-working many years ago (like in 2004, which seems like a lifetime ago). I knew sharing the overhead costs of physical space could work, but didn’t know if it would work for creative hobbyists the way it works for professionals and freelancers.
The big idea is this: we can buy stuff and supplies in lots of places (online, at big box stores, etc.). We can watch YouTube videos until the cows come home. We can drool in front of Pinterest boards with sewing project ideas. But when it comes to getting the work done, we need a place to do it. And, honestly, the kitchen table just doesn’t cut it.
So what’s the big idea? Shared creative workspace for people who are hobbyists and DIYers. Pay-by-the-hour instead of monthly membership. Easy-to-learn equipment and tools. But mostly, space. Clean, lovely, empty, no-dishes-in-the-sink-calling-your-name, kids, pets, distractions — a place for sewing, whatever kind of sewing it is!
Do I have to pay for it?
Well, here’s the short answer. Yes. I’m sorry! Many of us are accustomed to crafting in friend’s living rooms, church basements, on the bus, at the library, and in other free spaces. This is not one of those spaces. The geographer in me can talk to you for hours about how downtowns are facing an economic crisis, in part because of shifts in the retail sector. Retail storefronts are expensive, and unless we try to do something different inside of them, many will end up vacant. Instead of selling you stuff you may not need or use, or providing you with a service (like seamstressing) that I’ve not been trained to do, I want to give you an opportunity to have a fabulous experience.
Your fabulous experience — which includes worktables, sewing machine workstations, a design wall, full-length mirror, sitting area and library, restroom, fabric and notions sales counter, and great music are all “overhead costs.” So this business is a big experiment to see if you’ll agree that makerspaces are valuable to you. Already convinced? I hope you’ll drop in or read more about what goes on around here! Need some direction…?
If you want to sew on your own/independently, click here to learn how.
If you know you want/need to learn skills before you’re ready to sew on your own, click here.
If you want to walk in, pick out a project kit, and make it with a cheerleader on the spot (!), click here.
If you want to buy things — fabric, supplies, notions, visit our Etsy shop or click here for current inventory.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to meet you soon!
— Tess Poe, Founder
P.S. Was I supposed to tell you all about myself? In a nutshell, I’m a lifelong maker and designer. Sewing is rad, but it’s one of tons of skills I have, like knitting, painting, metalworking, baking, cooking, origami, glasswork, and more. I’m from Long Island, NY, and first came to the Valley for college at Mt. Holyoke (Geography/Environmental Studies). Had a career in Washington, DC as a fundraiser and communications consultant to national progressive non-profits (like this one!). Came back to the Valley for grad school at UMass (Regional Planning). Went to the Boston area to work as a Community Planner for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Came back to Northampton in 2011, and opened Beehive Sewing Studio + Workspace in 2012. Still curious? Follow me!