Jennifer Serr redefines the role of clothing and fashion in Alameda. Though her business evolved from teaching workshops at Rhythmix Cultural Works to owning her own studio, she always understood the important role that creativity plays in developing independent thinking. Thus she guides, rather than lectures at, her students as they work through projects, many of which are for charitable causes. Here, among whirring machines and fabric scraps, she proves that there is beauty in crafting something new out of the old.
Jennifer Serr desires that any artful soul feels at home at her studio. Even the name, the Sewing Room, reflects that it is a space for everyone. Her classes, which change and evolve regularly, include parent-child projects, couture-techniques workshops, and holiday-stocking making. These classes inspire a mindful and loving creativity, for Serr demonstrates how regular crafting imbues a sense of confidence, as she says a "sports practice or religious practice might." Often, a season of sewing classes ends with a runway show, in which students proudly demonstrate the creative goals Serr and her team showed them how to fulfill.
She stretches her business' heart by doing what many other studios don't even attempt: She wants to replace today's cold consumerism with an appreciation for the objects we already have. Through her lessons and participation in the Ethical Fashion Show, an island-wide competition that promotes thrift-shopping and consumer consciousness among teens, she resurrects skills that disappeared with past generations. She shows options, beyond dumpsters, for our less-than-perfect clothing-- outfits can be fitted, buttons re-sewn, and tears patched up.
She and her students recently extended the studio's spirit to Africa. Through the Sew Powerful project, the Sewing Room helped African girls stay in school. Unfortunately, for many young girls on the continent, menstruation means skipping 5 days of class each cycle, amounting to about two months of missed school per year. This problem is further compounded by the fact that many children only get to eat at school, so girls miss their daily nutrition when they menstruate.
Volunteers helped girls continue their education by creating bags containing menstrual products. The studio provided the fabric and space and volunteers provided their energy. Serr says that it's a "wonderful program for everyone involved. We made 50 bags last year and hope to make another 100 for this year's goal. The organization's goal this year is 6,000 bags-- this will allow 6,000 girls to remain in school, keeping them from the many outside risks they are subjected to."
The Sewing Room is open during classes, camps, workshops and also by appointment. It is located on 2434 Webb Avenue, Alameda. For more information, you can contact Jennifer Serr at (510) 332-9807 or at Jennifer@TheSewingRoomAlameda.com.
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