MY STORY: There were so many times I was unsure of why something happened and came to discover the purpose of that event further down in time. Today I feel ready to share about one of these times - my experience at my previous workplace in a garment manufacturer. I was hired on to assist in technical design and source fabrics and trims. Initially it started off well - I was learning how to make patterns both on paper and on the computer. I was also given many resources to source fabrics and trims as needed. Over time, I started answering calls with prospective clients, having meetings with them, and managing the sewing team, while learning less about pattern making. This wasn’t too bad until I started receiving my paychecks late. A week past, another, and another. Not only was I upset that I didn’t receive my paycheck, I also felt disrespected and unvalued. To this day - 2 months after I had completed my 2 weeks leave notice - I still haven’t received my last paycheck and I honestly don’t know if I ever will.
I wanted to share this experience with you because it shows what the fashion industry can look like, even here in Los Angeles. I’ve had experiences that were much better in this aspect, but I’ve also talked with others in the industry who’ve experienced similar issues. As a supporter of ethical fashion, I couldn’t continue to work for an employer who treated their employees this way. I made sure to bring up exactly why I was leaving before I did. They told me to stay as they wouldn’t miss any more payments after that conversation, but I wasn’t in it for myself. It was more about my coworkers who were also undergoing the same situation. They weren’t able to speak up as they had families to feed and support, and couldn’t risk losing their jobs. Even if I started being paid on time, my coworkers wouldn’t necessarily have been, and that wasn’t good enough for me to stay, so I left.
A positive of this experience was that I learned a lot about the process of making garments on a larger scale, but I also learned that jobs aren’t always what they initially appear to be. The role can change drastically as it had for me. I learned about the people in the fashion industry - the people I worked with as well as the clients I encountered. I came to learn the true character of people, even though initially appearing nice. Even so, I don’t want to be judgemental to new people I meet based on previous experiences. Regardless of the possibility of it ending poorly as it had in this case, I want to give each person a chance. Lastly, leaving this job has never made me want to work on my personal projects more. I want to work on creating something that can eventually be the kind of workplace I would have wanted in this job. I need to work towards becoming the change I want to see.
MARGU'S STORY: Emily Rowe founded Margu, a womenswear line combining classic shapes with vintage-inspired details, in 2016. She designs, cuts, and sews each garment in her studio in Fayetteville, Arkansas and sources fabrics and trims from all over the world. Emily takes her time to ensure that each piece is made to her standard and to last. She values quality over quantity, which is why she works meticulously on the details and fit of each piece. Each garment can take 4-10 hours from start to finish, not including designing, drafting, and grading. Emily focuses not only on sustainable fabrics but also on the packaging and trims to minimize the environmental impact on the fashion industry.