Located between Pizza Brutta and Wild Child on the artsy thoroughfare of Monroe Street, the Sewcial Lounge fits right in with its creative and inspiring atmosphere. Shoppers are immediately enveloped by chic patterns, beautiful fabrics and fun project ideas when they walk through the door.
Owner Sara Myers, who also serves as the store's main employee, didn't set out to open a shop when she left a career in operations management a few years ago.
"I was feeling like maybe the corporate world wasn't for me," says Myers.
She left without a formal plan and did some soul-searching -- and some sewing. That led to her opening the Sewcial Lounge in the fall of 2011.
"I wanted a creative place for people to release," says Myers, "especially working women. A place for them to be able to do something creative and fun that they normally wouldn't do on their own time."
Classes are on evenings and weekends. They're one-time and project-based: Attendees sew an item during class and take it home at the end.
The goal is to "come in, make your project, feel productive," says Myers. "We know if you don't finish it here, you won't finish it at home."
Beginner to advanced classes run between $10 and $70 and include patterns but not materials. They have a 1-to-4 instructor-to-student ratio, which allows participants to gain meaningful feedback about their sewing. The often-offered and often-full "Sewing Fundamentals: Where Do I Begin?" speaks to the community's interest in sewing for themselves.
On the retail side, Sewcial carries books, notions, patterns and fabrics, some of which are found in few other stores in Wisconsin, like designer brands Liberty of London, Lotta Jansdotter and Amy Butler. Fabric costs range from $7 to $40 per yard; deals can be had at the annual spring sale (going on right now, despite the snow) and the birthday sale in fall.
In contrast to the big-box craft stores, the Sewcial Lounge keeps its focus on sewing, with an intimate setting and an experienced staff. Myers has made most of the projects displayed in-house, so she can easily answer questions.
It's refreshing to hear her say that she wants to know what people are looking for, and that their interests influence her decisions on what to stock. She's formed relationships with many of her customers, several of whom have taken every class she's offered so far.
"I have some really fun, fun customers," says Myers.