A South Los Angeles sewn products training center, which has been ahead of its’ time is getting a groundswell of community support and economic boost thanks to Chase Bank and other corporate leaders.
“Chase Bank is supporting STITCHES TECHNOLOGY and education program with another grant of $50,000,” said CEO & Founder Clotee McAfee, a social entrepreneur, and former Stevie Wonder Costume designer. “The vision of STITCHES TECHNOLOGY is to build a vibrant workforce for the California fashion/apparel/sewn products industry comprised of workers with the technical and critical thinking skills to transform the industry,” she explained.
Many industry buyers are now asking for products made-in-America; a niche market STITCHES TECHNOLOGY is weaving into its vision for the apparel industry.
“Everything is locally based,” explained McAfee. STITCHES TECHNOLOGY Founder, Clotee McAfee, a designer by training, operated a contract sewing firm which produced better garments for major brands based in the region. A continual challenge was finding qualified workers to produce high-end garments demanded by manufacturers who depended on her firm to meet their high standards.
After searching unsuccessfully for a reliable source of workers, she decided to train them herself. In the process, a vision was born to develop the workforce for the vibrant fashion/apparel industry.
Chase Community Giving, the philanthropic giving program of JPMorgan Chase banks, is known for making lives easier and their communities better,” said Antonio Manning, Chase Bank. “We start with the simple theory that if we treat people well, they’ll want to do more business with us. STITCHES TECHNOLOGY is a great example of giving back to the community while contributing to the economy and the apparel industry.”
Other Corporations and organizations contributing to STITCHES TECHNOLOGY include Wells Fargo, Whole Foods, Trader Joes, Vons, Honeys Kettle, Chef Simone, 9 to 5 furniture, IRS Demolition. Partners include California Fashion Association, Juki America, Inc., TC4, Southern California Edison, Karen Kane, CORT Furniture, Steveland Morris, YWCA and the City of Los Angeles (Jan Perry) to name a few.
McAfee contends that her business model and focus on creating a well-prepared labor force will transform the fashion and apparel industry, which is now hard-pressed to fill entry-level positions. She contends that through hands-on training and education at the Center, a new generation of eager youth will gravitate towards careers in the fashion/apparel industry. Her program aims to shape them for this exciting industry and students will be trained, groomed, and inspired to fill jobs within a relatively short period of time.
The 2010 census reported more than 400,000 youth between 18 and 24 yrs. in the City of Los Angeles. “For those who don’t have defined career goals or college aspirations, who dropped out of high school, or are searching for a place to plant their roots and grow, the fashion and apparel industry offers opportunities,” said McAfee. “And it will give them a sense of purpose and accomplishment while providing a livable wage.”
The curriculum is business-driven and designed specifically for the garment/apparel industry. The Associate will: Gain basic understanding of the apparel industry, its structure, tools, and terminology. Learn foundational skills in operating sewing machines and related equipment. Build marketable entry-level skills. Enhance personal self-esteem and team-oriented attitudes. Create a professional development plan with a variety of garment/apparel career options. Design a portfolio of employability tools, resources and information to satisfy personal needs and achieve professional goals.
“Today STITCHES TECHNOLOGY has become much more relevant than it was back then, due to the growing demand for garments produced in America and unreliable sources of workers to meet this demand,” said President Ilse Metchek, California Fashion Association. “This will help the growth and development of the California apparel and textile industry.” Metcheck sits on the Board of Governors, Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC).
“A major skills gap exists in this behemoth $13 billion local industry that also imports $40 billion in products annually,” explained McAfee. “More than 10,000 companies in the region find themselves hard-pressed to access the skilled labor needed to drive their products to market. Yet the local labor pool is plentiful—and motivated, given the proper support system. “This means JOBS for our youth.”
The local workforce is undeveloped, largely as a result of budget cuts in the schools that eliminated sewing and design classes that once provided a basic foundation for and segue into the apparel and broader sewn products industry. Fashion and apparel production are naturally a huge draw for youth.
ABOUT STITCHES TECHNOLOGY
STITCHES TECHNOLOGY is a Los Angeles based non-profit organization that prepares youth for careers in the fashion/apparel/sewn products industry. Enrollment is open for the January class; to register contact firstname.lastname@example.org at the Hollywood WorkSource Center. For more about STITCHES TECHNOLOGY visit: http://www.stitchestechnologybusinessandcareercenters.org/ [Editor’s note: For media interviews, images, videos and a media kit contact Aida Mayo, MAYO Communications, (818) 340 –5300, Cell: (818) 618-9226.]