Sally Ann Keiser wants to bring sewing, which has been her passion since she was about 8-years-old, back to the First Coast.
“Nowadays, people don’t really know how to sew. It’s not passed down like it used to be," said Keiser, who is a new creator entered in this year’s One Spark festival.
"I began making my own clothes in school and I had pants made out of curtains," she said. "I wasn’t the cool kid.”
Keiser didn’t always want to sew full-time. The Michigan native attended Michigan State University with interests in art, journalism and anthropology, but one day realized she wasn’t satisfied and would rather sew as a career.
“It finally paid off about six years later,” she said. “Now I’m in the route that I want to be in and sewing full-time, so that’s pretty cool.”
Six years ago, Keiser began her business, Sally Ann Handmade Fashion, in a local record shop in east Lansing, Michigan. Since then she has brought her fashion south, where she plans to open her first shop.
Her One Spark idea involves a drop-in sewing lounge, a place with a coffee house feel, with sewing machines and all other sewing tools, sewing lessons, dress forms and a wall of communal fabric.
She dreams of a 1,000-square-foot room with a sewing library filled with sewing books and different areas for cutting and pressing fabric.
“You don’t have to have your own machine or buy everything you need to sew something, you could just come in, and work on your project there,” she said.
Keiser believes that social networks and mobile apps like Pinterest, a visual discovery tool that is used to gather and share ideas for hobbies and projects, have played a major role in the resurgence of sewing.
“Now young people want to sew,” she said. “I think it’s a great time to have this kind of space where if you don’t know how to sew, it’s not a hurtle you have to jump over.”
Although there are creative spaces around Jacksonville, Keiser believes her space would be a more natural atmosphere.
“I feel like a lot of the big chain stores that offer sewing lessons aren’t very welcoming,” she said. “There’s not a lot of creative feeling there, where this would be more of an organic environment where you could just relax and sew whatever you want. It doesn’t exist in Jacksonville.”
For One Spark, she plans to bring her mobile boutique that carries her merchandise with four or five sewing machines out front so people could come and do a little easy sewing activity.
“We want to give people the feeling that sewing isn’t as hard as people think it is,” she said. “Take five minutes and we’ll show you how easily you can make something.”
If she gets the funding, she hopes to find a place in Jacksonville's Downtown or Riverside areas.
Sally Ann’s Sewing Lounge will be displayed at Jesse B. Smith Memorial Plaza, across from the Florida Theatre.
“I think in Jacksonville it would be great because the sense of community atmosphere is really awesome, and there are people who want to be a part of it," she said.
"There are so many people that I meet that want to teach others how to sew, and this would be a great place for that.”
You can follow Emily Long on Twitter @EMchanted_.