Seattle’s Muses Conscious Fashion Studio
This week’s post introduces our readers to Sandrine Espie, one of the founders of Seattle’s Muses.
1.Please tell our readers about Seattle’s Muses and its mission: “We are trainers and advocates.”
Muses trains the next generation of apparel makers, empowering immigrant and refugee communities. We are an apparel production training house dedicated to serving immigrant and refugee communities. Muses elevates the sewing skills of its students to meet the local apparel industry’s rising demand for ethical, local and high quality production services. Located in Seattle, Muses advocates for a more responsible apparel manufacturing industry. We launched our new programs and moved into our studio, based in Sodo, in 2015.
We have two main programs:
- “Muses Professional Industrial Sewing Training Program”: An 8 week intensive professional training that teaches industrial sewing techniques.
- “The Artisans Collective” (in partnership with Seattle Housing Authority): We offer an introduction to professional sewing techniques, followed by monthly creative clothing repair, up-cycling and alterations workshops. These workshops offer students an opportunity to expand their sewing skills by learning professional techniques for reimagining clothing.
2. What does the name, Muses, mean to you?
Our full name is actually Muses Conscious Fashion Studio. Muses means source of inspiration. In 2013, Esther and I embarked on a journey inspired by Seattle’s low-income immigrant and refugee women and men, and their stories of extreme trauma, courage, resilience, and hope. All the committed and talented people we are meeting through our work continuously inspire us: our students, teachers, partners, and supporters.
3. How did you come to be involved with the organization?
After our volunteer work with local agencies, such as International Rescue Committee (IRC) and The Non Profit Assistance Center, we decided to implement collaborative and creative ways to better equip low-income immigrant and refugees with valuable skills. We teach skills demanded in the market place and then provide pathways for employment. Through research and interviewing, we learned that there was a strong need for local, low volume apparel production among local designers and manufacturers. We launched our first pilot training program in 2013.
4. What are the benefits of being an instructor in an organization like this? (Response from Muses instructor, Camille Steen)
I first worked with Muses as part of an internship through The Evergreen State College. I really enjoyed it and continued on after graduation.
Collaborating with my ingenious fellow instructors, our goal is to share our sewing expertise so our students can thrive in the workplace, one in an unfamiliar culture. Graduation Day is a special highlight each session, with children and families attending, and everyone sharing dishes from around the world.
Being a volunteer for Muses Conscious Fashion Studio and contributing toward the building of products “Made in USA” is a very rewarding endeavor!