Today we’d like to introduce you to Sarah Black.
Owner and designer of Made, Sarah, is a self-taught seamstress from Virginia, who learned from altering thrifted clothing and then started making custom bags for friends in high school. After graduating from college, she left the country for the first time volunteering with a humanitarian organization teaching math, dance, and sewing in various village communities.
Because of that experience, in 2014 she left her corporate job and launched an official brand of self-designed bags and began working with refugees who helped sew her products in her new city, Salt Lake City, Utah.
Made is now a collection of bags and pillows made from international textiles and leather. Sarah has also started to offer one-of-a-kind, limited batches of earrings made from leather scraps and upcycled jewelry pieces.
Now living in Texas, 5% of every purchase is donated to Refugee Services of Texas located in Houston. She also organizes humanitarian trips for makers to teach their trade to women in developing countries; such as Uganda and India.
Because of the work Sarah has done and the quality of her products, Made has been featured worldwide in magazines, online articles, TV, radio, and in events such as Ones to Watch at WWD Magic, Martha Stewart American Made contest, recognized as the Humanitarian Honoree at the Fashion and Arts of Humanity Fete in Chicago in 2016 and Best of Utah staff pick in 2017.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I learned a lot about myself going from a structured corporate job to being my own boss. First, I wish that I had taken up a part-time job while figuring out how to run my own business. I needed something that gave me structure to my day and some guaranteed income starting out.
The hardest part starting out though was in setting expectations with refugees that I worked with. I had a seamster that stop coming into my shop to sew 2 weeks before Christmas orders needed to be sent and another seamstress who took material home to sew for wholesale orders, but it was very difficult getting a hold of her on her phone, or she was never home, so I had to postpone my delivery date to my client. I learned that they were unaware of workplace norms that we’re accustomed to, and felt horrible when I had to communicate my disappointment and that the position was not the right fit for those respective situations.
We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I’m most proud of the fact that social good causes have been part of my brand from the very beginning. And I think that’s what sets me apart from other accessory companies as well. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to travel the world, to teach a skill that I love, and make an impact in other peoples’ lives whether through teaching or inspiring others to use their talents for good.
What were you like growing up?
Growing up, I was very shy but very curious. I asked a lot of questions and was very keen on details. My creative/ puzzle mind was lucky enough to find a place in secondary arts programs, elementary through high school, receiving specialty training in art, dance, and musical theater. I fit in well with the other artistic abilities, but I never really stood out. It was my sewing that peaked people’s interest in me. Even through college, I was the “girl that sew” and I loved that I was different. Sewing has played a major part in building up my confidence and growing a business in it has challenged and shaped me in ways I don’t think anything else could.
- Mudcloth Cosmetic Bag $32
- Mudcloth Circle Crossbody $68
- Mudcloth Pillowcases $48
- Address: 200 Marion Pugh Dr, Apt 915
College Station, TX 77840
- Website: www.choosemade.com
- Phone: 8016364304
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/choosemade
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/choosemadetx
- Other: https://www.pinterest.com/choosemade
@elishabraithewaite (pillowphoto), @kirtsensmithphotos (profile photo), @karl_ward (cosmetic bag and travel bags), @jq.creative (India teaching photo)