Shannon Marshall's Sonoma County Sewing Company is keeping busy with summer weddings that were originally planned for 2020.
On Brown Street, which might be the shortest street in Sebastopol, you’ll find Shannon Marshall at Sonoma County Sewing Center, next to King Falafel. On the day I visited, Shannon had stepped outside her shop to join members of the family that runs King Falafel to share a pot of coffee. We conducted this interview by email.
What is Sonoma County Sewing Company and when did it open in Sebastopol?
Sonoma County Sewing Company is a sewing shop, offering tailoring, alterations, embroidery and custom sewing for local designers, small businesses, and individuals. I opened the shop in Sebastopol in April, 2021. I was operating in Santa Rosa for 3 years prior.
What's your background and how did you get into this business?
My mom was a professional seamstress and she taught me how to sew when I was in middle school. I studied theater arts and fashion in college, then in 1999 spent a semester abroad in London where I worked in a costume shop. Then I spent the next decade working in sewing machine retail, teaching sewing, and working with local designers.
When my daughter was born, I worked in the private education industry for a few years, but never stopped sewing. Once my daughter started kindergarten, I went back to work at the sewing machine retail store, selling machines and teaching.
All along the way I have been a freelance seamstress, working out of my kitchen and living room. A dear friend moved back into Sonoma County in 2017 and I rented a workstation in her sewing studio. I had the opportunity to take over the shop space and I have been running my own business ever since.
What kind of sewing work or projects do you do there? What types of machines do you use?
We do a lot of different projects! We do tailoring and alterations for individuals and small businesses. We make home goods, custom garments, samples, prototypes, and items for photo shoots for local designers. We do machine embroidery. I have a few home sewing machines, an overlock, and a multi-needle embroidery machine. I also have a few industrial machines, one for knits, one for dressmaking, and one for upholstery.
How was your business impacted by Covid?
My business was certainly affected by the pandemic! I had been running a quilting machine training and rental program in my Santa Rosa shop for about a year and half before shelter in place started. At that time I decided to end the program and cancel all sewing lessons. For the majority of 2020 I was sewing in my living room, still paying for my shop space, while my daughter had school online at home. I still had a lot of sewing work coming in! There are several local businesses that I sew for and they continued sending orders to me. Some clients did contact me about tailoring and sewing lessons, but I had to turn them down.
I did not renew my lease in Santa Rosa when it ended in December 2020. In the spring of 2021, I started looking at office space and decided on Sebastopol when the West County High School consolidation was finalized and we learned that students would attend the Sebastopol campus rather than Forestville. This year I have worked on a number of wedding garments for clients who had initially planned a 2020 wedding. This is in addition to all of the newly scheduled weddings this year. It's been very busy! I am grateful for my good health and looking forward to growing my business in Sebastopol.
What are Sewing Sundays and when they are held?
Sewing Sunday is an informal small group sewing class where students bring any project they would like to work on and I am there to provide guidance and instruction. It is scheduled monthly from 1pm-3pm at Chimera Arts and Makerspace in the Ford Building across the street from my shop.
Class fee is $50 and upcoming dates are:
Signup on my website: https://socosewco.com/