Course of trade

course of trade update 2020: 

course of trade + malia mills shipped over 505,000 PPE gowns to frontline workers - hell yes!

course of trade update #1

libby here! i'm the production director at malia mills and for the past six years i've been working with our pattern makers, cutters, and sewers in our industry city studio and in our factories in new york, new jersey and california to create all the kickass malia mills swim and ready to wear styles that fill your drawers and closets.

in addition to continuing to work my magic with production, i've started course of trade, a registered 501c3 dedicated to providing industrial sewing training to new yorkers in need -- no previous sewing experience necessary.

course of trade was born out of our struggle to set up an in-house factory. we saw the need for jobs in our community but we had a hard time finding sewers. digging deeper we saw that over half of the garment manufacturing workforce is over the age of 45 and trained talent simply does not exist to step in as master sewers retire.  

there is tremendous pride in using hands and heart to make meaningful things and well paying jobs to be had.  we are here to help!  the beautiful thing about sewing is that not only is it teachable, it's incredibly gratifying.  i have worked with our in-house sewers olga, elaine and annie to create a modular learning system designed to minimize the barrier to entry for those new to sewing and industrial machines.  the goal is to make the process as stress-free as possible -- i did a test teaching our studio teams to sew and what i saw was that the biggest obstacle to learning a new skill set was anxiety and the fear of not getting it right straight out of the gate. so we broke down the process into easily understood sections (we've got multi-lingual manuals) and paired it with a video to ensure that we are setting up our trainees for success. thank you olga for wearing our gopro harness as a hat!   

the goal is economic empowerment.  little by little, one gal at a time, we're making a difference.  

course of trade update #2

the first one hundred bag sold out!  we're on to the second one hundred!

 for every bag sold, 100% of the $30.12 proceeds funds the training costs and wages for each trainee to learn to sew as a paid student of course of trade.

the design of the bag is the product of speaking to our factory partners and observing the skills used most frequently on the factory floor: darts, merrowed seams, double needle hems, and clean finishing.  

darts in the double-lined base of the bag gives shape for all your toting needs.  

the wide strap teaches top stitching and creates two side pockets, perfect for stashing your cell phone and beach pass.  

reinforced stitching on the body of the bag adds strength and means you can toss a six pack in your bag and be on your way (trust me, i tried).  

this is more than a bag. it's an opportunity.

it's a chance for us to teach and those in need to learn new skills.

it's a chance to make a difference, one person and one stitch at a time.

selling the next one hundred bags means that we can pay the wages for 2 trainees. we can teach them new skills and help with job placement.

we are always looking for more factory partners to hire our amazing graduates, so keep your ear to the ground for us!

course of trade update #3

2018 was a hell of a year!  we trained, we placed, we made a difference.  

over the course of the year, we had 9 students come through the program and 5 graduates.  

3 of those graduates are now working full time in garment manufacturing! we are constantly revamping the way we are training and the analyzing what's working, what's not, and where we can stand to improve.  

one of the most eye opening things about this year was not the success of the sewing instruction program, but the impact we had with the soft skills portion of the program.  the goal of course of trade is and always has been economic empowerment -- industrial sewing training is merely the means to achieve that.  

what i thought would be the most important teaching opportunities turned out to be pretty secondary.  it's not re-threading machines, it's not learning stitch lengths, it's the foundation that we need to work on to get to that point.  

what does 1/8" look like on a ruler?  how can you tell what the right side of the fabric is? 

how do you deposit the paycheck you earn?

hailey with heart and the next one hundred bag (in works!) are our way to fund raise and keep doing what we're doing!

we are so optimistic about what 2019 holds.  we have students lined up to train and factories ready to hire. 

let's do this!  

course of trade update #4

wow, we have learned so, so much. 

the opportunity to learn, grow, and expand what we thought possible is such an incredible gift! 

we've been steadily expanding our network of factory partners, rewriting our curriculum, striking things and adding new methods, all in an effort to improve the process.  i've received tons of feedback from factories in our orbit and the advice has been invaluable as we continue down this road.

the biggest thing i've learned since launching course of trade is that there's one major thing that i simply cannot teach in the program's current iteration: speed.  it's a cultivated practice and my set up is geared more towards the fundamentals, rather than throwing the machine into 5th gear.

with that said, we're making moves to change that!  we've launched course of trade manufacturing -- a separate operation focused on hiring graduates of the training program and employing them in a teaching factory environment.  they'll still get the same one-on-one instruction, but real-time experience with consumer-ready goods.

i'm so excited to continue to help our graduates with this next phase and leveling up the work preparedness aspect of the program.  thank you all for your continued support and for being the most incredible chi-leaders day-in and day-out!