Today, we have the pleasure of interviewing Judith Harmon. She has been sewing for about 21 years, working in theater in one capacity or another for 8 years, and cosplaying for 6 years. She is the founder of Sew What?! and loves making fun costumes.
How did you get into what you do right now? Please tell us more about your journey.
I started learning to sew when I was around the age of 5, my mother taught me when she saw me making blankets and clothing for my dolls. Throughout the years, I have been broadening my abilities by practice through repetition and seeking out those with more experience or specialties than myself. I have become a generalist in the world of costuming, so I can do a wide variety of things well! I am a graduate of the University of Texas – Arlington with an Interdisciplinary degree in Costume Design and Entrepreneurship.
Who are your role models?
I have three really powerful role models in my life, and I am thrilled every day to get to share my journey with them in one capacity or another. First is my husband. He has inspired me to live each day as creatively as possible and helps me tackle the challenges in everyday life with a smile and a laugh. Second is my father, he has always challenged me to learn more and to go back and learn from my mistakes. And third is my mother, and she is probably the most heartening of them all. She has never stopped creating and getting inspired by the world around her. She can look around a room and find something new she can create to make the world around her more beautiful and/or efficient.
What inspires you?
I am inspired by the world around me. I wake up every day brimming with ideas and go to sleep excited for all of my projects. Just the other day, I was putting away a cosplay and became inspired to work on a prop for an entirely different costume. The world around us is beautiful and complex, there is inspiration everywhere around us, we just need to be open to it.
Please tell us about your company.
My business is called Sew What?! I started it in college to begin doing cosplay commission works as well as some custom sewing and alterations. As time has moved on, my business has morphed into a brand of sorts. Instead of cosplay commissions, I now specialize in education and costume design for theater. The world around me was changing, and I found new passions to pursue. In the past few years, I struggled to understand where I wanted to go, and I searched for new opportunities to give me new experiences. I have always loved sharing my knowledge and helping others create a story or a costume. I have been able to find a few jobs that allow me to teach the next generation how to create in whatever way they can best express while also learning something new.
What's your most memorable experience?
My most memorable experience was the day my business began. I was in my dorm room at college and had a friend bring someone over that he thought I could help. Well, I opened the door to a woman who told me she needed a princess costume in 6 days for a festival, she had been asking around and was running out of options. As we spoke, she told me what she wanted, and I just kept saying to myself, “This sounds like so much fun!”. Sure enough, I finished the costume in time for her event, and I was just so proud of how it turned out, but even more, excited when I saw what others thought of it. I had thought I had just made something pretty, but the children who interacted with her at this festival were entranced. It was the first time I had really seen how something I made could transform someone in the eyes of others. Since that day, I have been hooked.
Which social media channels work best for promoting your work? What exactly do you do on the social media channel that makes it work for you?
Instagram and my website are the places that work best for me. Instagram helps me share my current works live with anyone in the world around me. In contrast, my website is more intimate, it is where people can see everything I have worked on, the progress I have made, and keep up to date on my life and portfolio.
What's your greatest fear?
My greatest fear is that one day I will wake up and not want to create anymore. It has become so ingrained in my life and soul. I'm not talking about waking up one day and not wanting to sew or craft. I mean waking up with no inspiration or ideas on new things, I can't imagine my life without my art.
Looking back, what's one thing you wish you understood better before you ever got started?
I look back, and I wish that I could have understood that not everyone will love what I make. The first few years of theater costume design taught me that there will always be someone who is unhappy with what they are wearing, no matter how important to the character these choices I made were.
What are the strategies that helped you become successful in your journey?
I am so happy that I have tried to learn a little bit of everything, the little things I have picked up from here and there over the years have come more in handy than I could have ever expected. Some basic training with tools and a basic understanding of how things work has saved my bacon many times.
What keeps you going when things get tough?
When things get crazy, and I feel overwhelmed, I like to close the door to my sewing room and watch a movie or go to see a theater production. I love how costumes tell a story and how every artist makes a choice when they dress a character. Even when I disagree with a choice, a costumer makes, being immersed in their world for a time is a bit of a reset for myself.
Any message for our readers.
Pursue your dreams, and learn as much as you can about the world around you. There is so much there that can help you find ways to be successful with your passions.
How can people connect with you?
People can sign up for my newsletter on my website to be notified of any upcoming projects in theater, education opportunities, or cosplay. But if they want to see weekly, what I am up to check out my Instagram. I love posting progress pictures and the finished product.