Local Craft Business Making Waves in the Sewing Community
An online craft business was the farthest thing from her mind
She was in the sixth grade when she first learned how to sew during Vacation Bible School (VBS) at Church. Two grades later she received her first sewing machine. During her high school and college years, Felicia Alston sewed for herself and others. Expanding her sewing talents, she learned crocheting from her sister and knitting from her mother.
That’s not all.
Ms. Alston, a special needs teacher by day, started her side business My Crafty Table Sewing and Crafts, which offers vocational sewing classes and sewing services on the south side of Chicago – Beverly and Bronzeville neighborhoods.
My Crafty Table Sewing and Crafts serve kids, youth, and adults.
At one point, she almost walked away from the business
Her sister, who was her business partner for five years passed away in February of last year.
“Through prayer, encouragement, and constant interest for classes, I decided to continue in her honor and my purpose.”
The Accidental Entrepreneur
It wasn’t Felicia’s intention to start a craft business.
At the time she was just looking to meet fellow crafters on Chicago’s southside when she started a craft club meetup. She was fortunate to get free space at a local church to hold Sip-N-Stitch meetups once a month. Little did she know that the monthly meetup would lead to participants asking for lessons; whether it was for themselves, their kids, or grandkids. Some of the meetup members had sewing machines that haven’t left the attic/basement/garage in years or remain unopened and asked if she could teach a class on how to use them.
“I am not a designer, but sewing is my superpower. I can make pretty much anything I see. Construction is my specialty, seeing how things are made and how they work together.”– Felicia Alston, Owner of My Crafty Table
When Teaching Children…
She often focuses on the connection to STEM skills, even though she prefers STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math. Sewing uses all these skill sets once someone is into making something from a piece of fabric. All the concepts learned in sewing start to make sense when applied to the real-world situations. It also provides socialization, mental, emotional health benefits, and opportunities for individuals to create an income for themselves.
Ms. Alston prefers to teach children 10 years of age and older, but she recommends to parents with children between 6-9 years old that want to learn sewing to start with projects that can be completed by hand sewing. It introduces them to basic STEM skills, cutting and construction, and immediate gratification of a ‘make and take’ they completed themselves. Even adults are surprised when they take one of her hour-long free introduction classes and leave with a finished project.
Many lessons learned during her sewing journey
Her advice to new crafters: nothing is perfect in your eyes; only in the eyes of the customer (we always see flaws in our works). There are no mistakes. Only intended outcomes and outcomes that take our projects in a direction we didn’t plan. Lastly, don’t underprice or undersell yourself, or your goods and services. It’s easy to underprice based on how easy it was to make, but the value is based on skill set – something customers don’t have. While we enjoy what we do, it’s also fun to make a profit.
It doesn’t stop there…
Since she took a leap of faith and started her business, many opportunities opened up for Felicia. For starters, she won first place in a business pitch competition ($10K Prize). Then, she started a non-for-profit Sew N Love, a vocational school for crafts. She’s collaborated with Girls Take Your Place Science STEM camp and Paul G. Stewart Center. She now serves as the Vice President of the Haute Couture Club of Chicago, a sewing group.
To connect with My Crafty Table Sewing and Crafts on social: