Back again for another edition of Urban Entrepreneurs.
Urban Entrepreneurs is where we feature sellers of any kind who have decided to take the plunge (with the help of some UT designs) and start their own small biz. Today’s feature takes us onto a delicious twist into the wilder side of the west, with Custom Wears by Claudia. Claudia specializes in vintage inspired gear with a decidedly modern twist, and she has me wishing for warmer weather and a good pair of cowboy boots.
Claudia joins us today to talk about the fateful PBR event that pushed her into the happy happenstance of modern western ware, and the cool customers she designs for…
How did you get into designing clothes?
My pink nylon quilted robe was the show stopper in the 9th grade fashion show, and when I was 14, I won the local, state and regional Singer Sewing Contests. For the past nine years, I worked at Hancock Fabrics in Overland Park, Kansas, teaching sewing classes and garment construction, and also demonstrating sewing machines and techniques.
What started you into embroidery?
I started out just wanting to embroider things for my children, when they were small. They are grown now and I still love embroidering their clothes!
Where did you first find Urban Threads?
I did a google search looking for skull designs.
Ha! Yeah, that would certainly be a surefire way of finding us. So, what made you take the plunge into starting your own business?
I didn’t so much plunge as I was pushed!
Custom Wears by Claudia launched in 2009 when my husband wore a shirt that I had used an Urban Threads design on and it was seen by the Pabst Blue Ribbon rep. She asked if I could make a shirt for an event PBR was hosting and 42 shirts later I was in business!
Tell us a bit about your shop, Custom Wears by Claudia. What kind of stuff do you do?
I work out of my home doing mostly one of a kind, custom ordered and fit pieces. I make the garments from scratch, so each piece is decorated for the individual customer and fit to them.
Folks are always asking me to bring my work and show it at their shop or their event but I don’t have any inventory; each garment is made just for that one customer!
What kind of customer do you cater to?
I do a lot of work for folks in bands. I digitize their artwork and put it on a custom made shirt, dress, etc. I do my best to make sure my work fits properly, is comfortable, and is a reflection of the person wearing it.
I love how tickled folks are when they try on a finished piece and they love that the vintage-inspired garments offer a modern spin. Folks like that the designs look vintage but aren’t rotten under the arms and hard to care for.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?
To trust myself in my ability to bring a customers idea to realization on their garment. I love the challenge of making difficult items. I want to learn something new each time I make a new piece.
Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?
I just bought a 15 needle single head embroidery machine so that is a huge step up from my home embroidery machine. It provides a giant leap not only in the size of design but in the time and quality of the stitch outs.
I am learning so much about it and the new software that I also purchased so I guess the old adage of ‘bigger and better’ holds very true for me!
Aren’t you just dying to get a hold of a western steampunk raygun duster? If you weren’t before I bet you are now.
You can find more examples of Claudia’s work on her awesome website, and see just what she can cook you up with her shiny new machine. Just make sure you bring the attitude to match, because with clothes as awesome as these, you better have the swagger to back em’ up.
Hats off to you Claudia, for creating such an awesome blend of old and new, western and punk. Can’t wait to see what you whip up next.
Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!