Our Fall 2017 Apparel Manufacturing Boot Camp was successful beyond expectations. By our second day of sewing coats (that we’ll donate to needy New Mexico kids), we were so far ahead that attendees had time to get bored and look for something else to do. Thus, we started spreading and cutting 200+ more live trap covers tor our local TNR program (Street Cat Hub). This is our fifth event in two years, and once we’ve finished, our running tally of products we’ve manufactured for donation will be:
325 winter coats for needy kids
375 live trap covers used to neuter wild cats, 85 liners for feral boxes that the city of Albuquerque uses, as well as dog beds donated to the city and other local 501c3 rescue operations.
270 dresses for senior citizens
200+ pairs of school pants for elementary school children
360 luxury grade (22″x22″) cloth napkins donated to Karma Cafe
Oh wait, here is a front and back view of the coats we made. They have a shearling lining (visible in the photo of Gwen).
This event was so pivotal that it forces a comparison to our first. Writes Eric Husman, co-owner of the factory:
We just wrapped things up. Jackets are ready for one last step, and then packaging and distribution. Honestly, this bootcamp felt different. I ended up feeling a little frustrated with my last task (that [buttonhole] machine earned its abbreviated nickname, iykwim), but I hope that wasn’t too contagious because up until then, things just felt so …?
The first BC was a logistically and emotionally monstrous undertaking for us, and then we tripled down on the complexity the following Spring. Each time we do it, we learn something else and address a few more problems, and it seems like it gets better. When you think about it — well, if you really thought about it, you would never do it — but when you think about what Kathleen has started, the whole enterprise gets high marks just for the technical difficulty of taking a couple of dozen random strangers with varying degrees of sewing experience (including “none”) and making a production run of coats. Well, not just coats: lined children’s coats with Western styling features.
But that sense of accomplishment isn’t all. Something else has happened along the way. Between the people who keep coming back, the alumni who come visit in person or by phone to lend moral support and more (thank you, by the way, that is much appreciated), and some who join us vicariously via social media (also very much appreciated), MfgBC has become a community. I think it felt different this time because it has become comfortable, like home. It’s virtual most of the time, and physical for a couple of weeks every year. Smart, wonderful, talented, hard-working people who support Kathleen’s twin visions of keeping the knowledge alive while supporting the fragile elements of our permanent physical community here in NM. Not only is it *not* hard to find people willing to take on the hard jobs (e.g. cutting cuffs), but everyone is getting to the point where they know what those jobs are ahead of time … and still take them on.
I can no longer count how many times we’ve put someone new into a job of which they would not have believed themselves capable, and then watched them grow into it. It only takes two things: (1) people who are willing to step outside their comfort zone to take on these jobs with humility, honesty, and integrity, and (2) a community of people who are committed to the vision who provide the supportive infrastructure. We have abundance in both of those. Y’all are awesome, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to participate in this event every time.
So that’s where we are. Thrilled to be making an impact in two communities; that of needy kids that we donate products to, and also, entrepreneurs who want to start enterprises in the US but don’t have a chance of experiencing factory life outside of these events.
Here is a photo of (L-R) Tim, Christin, Jamie and Keera. I don’t know why they wanted me to take a picture of them in the closet but whatever. They are attended our first boot camp so the reunion was great.
We had a blast and sincerely, thank everyone for sacrificing your time and money to make this event so successful. We couldn’t have done it without you!