Grist Columnist: Watchoo Doin’ Here?

ssc-bulcover-246We’re not a retail business, but from time to time we get walk-in customers. Being in Music City U.S.A., we often have folks come in who design or sew for music celebrities. That’s one reason Nashville has a fairly thriving local sewing industry.

One of my favorite walk-in stories happened exactly for that reason. It was an afternoon a couple of years ago. Our landlord was in showing around a new cleaning lady, Myrna. While they were here, a walk-in showed up at the door. He said he wanted to pick up a steamer for his daughter who was making a music video in town.

About that time the landlord walked by with Myrna. She looked up at our visitor, put her hands on her hips, and said, “Sinbad, whatchoo doin’ here?” I thought it was cool that she ran into someone she knew, maybe from high school. But the significance was really lost on me. I just figured Sinbad was a nickname. Only when he handed me his credit card and it actually just said “Sinbad” on it did I realize we had the real thing!

says-myrna&sinbadI was glad to get a chance to thank him for making a TV show back in the nineties that I could enjoy with my kids. He was every bit as nice in person as he was on that show. And in fact, here’s the photo he posed for with Myrna that day.

Now that you know Myrna, I have a special favor to ask of you. Go to: and search on: Myrna Berry.

You’ll see why she could use a helping hand. I hope you’ll throw a few bucks her way if you can. She’s deserving. Thanks!

John F. Rebrovick

SouthStar’s new Bulletin #246 is now available. If you are a current customer or a recent addition to our mailing list, it should be showing up in a mailbox near you soon. If not, you can request a copy by writing us or click here to download a copy. Thank you!

SewBiz USA: Job Posting for Sewing Division, South Carolina

From our friends at SEAMS (The National Association for the Sewn Products Industry):

Job Posting:

Sewing Division Project Development Leader

SEAMS member Vapor Apparel is opening another plant. Due to their growth they are seeking a Qualified Sewing Division Project Development Leader.

About Vapor Apparel

The company designs and manufactures customizable performance apparel and private label clothing. The company is focused on developing sustainable apparel solutions and has developed a “Made in the America’s” product line that maximizes a sustainable supply chain.

Team Profile:

As a team member you will be able to communicate openly, listen effectively and work well with others. Must have a sense of urgency and a positive attitude that is apparent in your work ethic.

You must be eager to learn new technologies and willing to offer new ideas.

Position Description:

The Supervisor must have 3- 5 years’ experience in Sewing Apparel with a single needle, over lock, and/or cover stitch.  The candidate needs to have experience in development and sample making.


Reporting directly to the Manager, you will work closely with a team of sewers and other aspects of sewing to produce quality apparel to meet customer’s deadlines and expectations.

“All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”

Salary DOE

Send resumes to Al Adams:

Sewing Machine Mechanic Classes Forming

What’s the hardest problem next to finding folks to sew your creations? jk-shirley-iieFinding someone to fix the machines! And more often than not, that someone is YOU. With the loss of factories in the U.S., sewing machine mechanics are few and far between. (We keep a listing of mechanics HERE.)

Well, a machine distributor here in the Nashville area is stepping up to do something about that. Whether you want training yourself or have an employee who could benefit, we need to hear from you if you are interested. A week-long class will cost $600 to $800 (depending on the machines covered). There must be a minimum of five students in a class to make it work. Travel and lodging is not included, but lunch is! So if you have an interest, please send us an email and let us know of your specific interests so that when the classes get going, you’ll hear about it first.

Grist Columnist: Boom Times!

says-bul245cover     April fool! I sort of remember boom times, but it’s been a good long while. If you’re under age 35 or 40 or you’ve been in business for just the last couple of decades, you really don’t know what boom times are. Maybe that’s not such a bad thing—what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I hope for all our sakes boom times will return. Boom times are fun!

In the past hundred years there have been two really booming stretches, in the 50s & 60s after WW II (that was before my time) and in the 80s & 90s after Ronald Reagan turned the economy around. I was smack in the middle of that one.

Here’s what it’s like: Success is rewarded with celebration (instead of being told: you didn’t build that). It’s hard to find employees because everybody’s working (instead of 90 million able bodies out of the work force, and shipping more in all the time). People buy stuff left and right (instead of scouring Craig’s List for every little thing). Working capital is easy (sometimes too easy) to get.

And.. And… And… Well, actually, it wasn’t all the land of milk & honey. It wasn’t all one big boom. The economy always cycles up and down, but each time there was a downturn, you gave it a few months and things would pop back up even better. And you could still shoot yourself in the foot & end up bankrupt. Or get obsoleted by tech advances like the telex got replaced by email got replaced by texting…

But there was a lot of excitement all the time, people jockeying for better jobs, better benefits, buying, selling, importing, exporting, chasing the next big thing. Prove me wrong but that ain’t happening nearly as much these days.

If you’re in small business, and you’re not voting, then the April Fool’s joke is on you. We can have boom times again, but we better get on the stick and put some people in place who will clear the way for all you young folks to have more boom, less bust; less Foolin’ and more Fun!

Boom or not, thanks for your business!

John F. Rebrovick

SouthStar’s new Bulletin #245 is now available. If you are a current customer or a recent addition to our mailing list, it should be showing up in a mailbox near you soon. If not, you can request a copy by writing us or click here to download a copy. Thank you!


SewBiz USA: Sewing Equipment Auction in Pennsylvania

Online auction. Red Lion, Pennsylvania. Pfaff & Juki sewing machines and Wolf straight knives formerly used by furniture manufacturer Mastercraft Specialties. Inspection available March 9th & 10th. Bidding closes March 11, 2015, 3:10pm. For details CLICK HERE.

SewBiz USA: American Giant is Made in USA!

americangiantlogoWhat a thrill to read another genuine success story from an apparel company committed to manufacturing its product in the U.S.A.! American Giant is featured by Fast Company as one of its 2015 Most Innovative Companies. To read the story CLICK HERE.

SewBiz USA: Seattle’s new minimum wage pushes sewing jobs out of state.

It’s practically a law of nature: labor-intensive, low-margin sewing businesses follow cheap labor. That’s how the South ended up loaded with apparel factories after the Northeast unionized at the end of the 19th century, how Mexico inherited the apparel production industry after NAFTA, and why most sewing is done in Asia today. So you gotta wonder what they were thinking in Seattle when they set the minimum wage to $15 an hour. They certainly weren’t thinking of entry level workers and Made in the U.S.A. jobs! Click the following link for more information:

“First Casualty of Seattle’s $15 Minimum Wage”

SewBiz USA: Production Work Available

From our friends at SEAMS, “your resource for the USA sewn products supply chain:”

February 9, 2015

Production Work Available

A SEAMS Member is looking for a company to produce the following:

Product = 100% Acrylic Place Mat

Size = 12″ X 17″

Qty = 50 Dozen per month initially

Quantities will increase later.

*Will need to Sonic Mats

Company will buy horn

If interested please reply via email to

SouthStar Supply featured in “Shop Talk!” magazine.

says-shoptalkcoverWe’ve been friends with the folks at “Shop Talk!” magazine for years and years – in fact, publisher Dan Preston attended the one and only Sewing Business Seminar we organized here in Nashville way back in the ’90s. So it is quite a treat and a closing of the circle to be featured in this month’s “Shop Talk!” The magazine goes out to thousands of shoe and saddle shops, among others. It is, as the website says, “a comprehensive source for sewing machines, leather, leather working equipment, supplies, tools, horse healthcare and finished products for manufacturers, repair shops, retailers, crafters & collectors.” If you fall under those categories, you owe to yourself to subscribe, as the sources of supply in the advertisements alone are worth the price of the subscription. To visit the website, click here. And to read a PDF copy of the article featuring SouthStar, click here.

SewBiz USA: Contract cutter needed for flannel pieces.

We have received the following inquiry:

My company is in search of a company or individual who can cut flannel fabric for my product in 12 X 9 sizes.  It would be an ongoing project to supply material for production.  Do you happen to know of anybody who might provide this type of service?  We would need 100-200 12 X 9 flannel fabric pieces per month with a plan to increase supply.
If you are interested in performing this service, please email your contact info to us at and we’ll pass it along!