The material world: Stitch Factory is hub for budding designers

The material world: Stitch Factory is hub for budding designers

Written by Ginger Meurer

Co-working environments are hot in the tech world. But what about fashion?

ÒAs a designer, you can take your sewing machine to Starbucks, but that would be really awkward,Ó said fashion entrepreneur Jen Taler. ÒWould you really want to do that? So where do you live in that co-working environment?Ó

The answer devised by TalerÕs business partner, Meghan Mossler, is the Stitch Factory, a creative space for Las VegasÕ emerging and established designers.

The shared industrial space at 300 Las Vegas Blvd. North, Suite 120, is packed with cutting tables, industrial sewing machines, dress forms, bolts of fabric and people brimming with creative ambition. Taler said the business has a full-time staff of 10 and a database of people it brings in on a variety of projects.

She said Las Vegas has been a great place to launch a fashion business.

ÒObviously, thereÕs a lot happening in the Arts District and on the Strip with the costuming industry, and thereÕs the different design schools here,Ó she said. ÒSo we wanted to kind of create a place where thereÕs maybe more of a hub where everyone can come in and create together or through mixers and events collide. I think thereÕs a huge opportunity.Ó

Las Vegas also has MAGIC, the MenÕs Apparel Guild in California, one of the largest trade shows in the world bringing in buyers, brands and designers twice a year. Taler said MAGIC can be overwhelming to people who have never been to or who donÕt understand it.

ÒSo we actually have a guided tour through MAGIC that we do twice a year in August and February where we take you through some suggested seminars and also walk the show and engage with some of the brands and kind of educate you on whatÕs happening and how to properly attack it if youÕre going there as a retailer or if you want to be a designer and get ready before you take that next step,Ó she said.

The Stitch Factory is all about helping budding designers longing to take that next step. The business focuses on three areas: membership, education and production.

Memberships, like dresses, come in different sizes. Community members are invited to events, receive discounts on classes and have access to lounge areas. Creator members have access to shared work space and equipment, receive on-site technical design support, have access to a fashion resource library and benefit from office basics, such as a receptionist, Wi-Fi, coffee and printing. Designers get all that and dedicated studio space.

ÒThey have their own working space and their own machine so they donÕt have to rethread each time,Ó Stitch Factory marketing representative Rachel Herring said.

ÒAs you can see, itÕs set up so designers can work out of here, work on their collection and be set up with a full design studio without having to personally invest in space and all that machinery and all the equipment that you need because that does add up,Ó Taler said.

On the education end, the facility hosts Òanything from fun DIY projects that are really great gateways into design all the way through technical design classes,Ó Taler said. ÒWe have two-day workshops, nine-week courses, day workshops that take you through the beginning fundamentals of design all the way through in-depth technical workshops.Ó

The classes draw students of all backgrounds and ages.

Last summer, the Stitch Factory launched a weeklong summer childrenÕs day camp, with crafty campers stitching pillows, dolls and totes. This summer, Taler said the business hopes to expand the camps to full-day programs to accommodate children with working parents.

Kevin Smith, who also teaches at Sanford-Brown College (formerly the International Academy of Design & Technology), heads up the Stitch Factory course offerings. He said heÕs developing certificate programs in sewing and pattern making as an alternative to a fashion bachelorÕs degree. He said great pattern makers with experience can make a good living.

ÒA really good pattern maker, theyÕre like a chef because theyÕre putting together the architecture of what needs to go together,Ó Smith said.

The designer, whose first career was in social work, said he would like to secure grants to help provide fashion training to women trying to escape the sex trafficking industry.

ÒA lot of these girls, they get caught in sex trafficking when theyÕre 12,Ó he said. ÒSo they donÕt have any kind of skills with anything. So thatÕs why they continue to go back to that life.Ó

Another component of the education program is a fashion-focused speakers series. Herring, who coordinates the series, said the Stitch Factory invites fashion industry leaders to visit and speak in a forum Òopen to the community so they can listen and get inspired by their stories. WeÕve had some amazing speakers come out: Peter Kim, the CEO of Hudson Jeans; Donald J. Pliner; Jerome Rousseau; amazing shoe designers; Katie Butler with Nine West.

ÒLast but not least, we focus on production,Ó Herring said. ÒWe do pattern making, sample making, manufacturing. We donÕt have any minimums, so we can do one-of-a-kind to thousands of units.Ó

ÒOur focus tends to be on product development and brand building,Ó Smith said. ÒWeÕre not trying to be a main manufacturer. We do small runs here. So if people need, like, less than 500 pieces, weÕre going to do that in-house, depending on what it is. We also source out to fair factories. We have strong relationships with factories around the country.Ó

Smith said advisers at the Stitch Factory can help product designers find factories that are licensed, have fair labor practices and will provide good quality. He said many designers donÕt realize that if a factory isnÕt playing by the rules, itÕs not just the factory that faces fines. ÒYou, as a brand, would get fined,Ó Smith said.

Marketing and brand building are part of what inspired Mossler and Taler to found the Stitch Factory in 2012. The duo met as buyers at Zappos, and both were surprised at how unprepared some brands were for the marketplace.

ÒPeople were trying to be everything to everyone or didnÕt have cohesive brands or didnÕt understand that you need to have terms or discounts and systems set up to be online Ñ all these things that they are not aware of because theyÕve never done it,Ó Taler said. ÒSo the idea is to kind of help bridge that gap.Ó

For more information on the Stitch Factory, visit or call 702-476-5552.

Contact View contributing reporter Ginger Meurer at Find her on twitter:@gingermmm.

The material world: Stitch Factory is hub for budding designers