Fashion Speaker Series: Kathy Healey & Healey Wear

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By Pinn Duong

(This is part 1 of a two-part blog, each section features a guest speaker at The Fashion Program Speaker Series at GCC on March 4, 2020.)

Kathy Healey is the creator and owner of 22-year-old custom window treatment design firm, Healey Wear, in Rochester, NY. In addition to window treatments, her firm also expands to other parts of home interiors, including cushions, pillows, quilts and occasionally clothing alteration.

Beside window treatments and home interiors, Healey also worked on clothing alteration. She often paralleled working on clothing alteration as being similar to an autoparts mechanic, “Clothing alteration can sometimes be tedious, but very interesting. It’s taking something apart, seeing how it’s made, fixing it and putting it back in a better way. The biggest and best compliment I get from people is when they say, ‘Wow, how did you do that!’ making me feel like a magician.

She has also been a content creator by publishing two articles for Sew News Magazine, and another one for Threads Magazine

“My first publication for Sew News was my 13th submission; I submitted around 12 different ideas before my submission was picked. If you want to do this kind of work, just as other types of creators or inventors, you gotta have a tough skin. And whenever you face rejection, you have to say to yourself, ‘Okay, I’m gonna keep going, I’m gonna keep going.’ After my third submission, I told my son ‘I’m a content creator now, isn’t that cool!’ “

Workspaces inside her home include a second-floor sewing studio, a second-floor fitting room and a basement workroom. Healey discussed in details different aspects and tips of working from home. “Sometimes, a customer comes in with their wedding gown, then her mother comes and then another member of their family, and that’s three cars without parking spaces,” she recalls. “Whether it’s home or company, communication is important not just to your customers but also your own family members.”

Another thing you have to be aware of is your home and property needs to look nice and be kept up. Keep your home/work setting professional, you can’t be mowing a lawn when somebody comes to try on their dresses… “

Working from home allows you a flexible schedule, but somewhat limits your networking opportunities. “We’re always hungry; we’re always looking for what’s our next job. American Sewing Guild has been a great networking source of friends, sewing enthusiasts, and knowledge. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with what’s the latest change in shades, updated safety rules; sometimes I run out of blinding, or interfacing… By coming together and working with other women in this group, we find ways to help each other.”

Networking also happened informally. My younger son was very active in high school musicals theatre groups. When the local costume-making community knew I could sew, they liked me a lot,” she laughed. “Doing costume work is another wacky way to learn how to sew. It’s also a nice way of helping and volunteering for the community.”

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