Eric Banisadr my blog

First Impressions and WISE Goals

I think I surprised just about everybody I know by choosing to complete my WISE project at a local tailor. I know I surprised myself, at least.

How it all started

At first, I’d planned to use my WISE project as a sort of internship in the tech or business world. Fancy, I know. But, a potential job with an uncle of mine fell through, and the HR departments of a few other large companies refused to take on a high-school student. Damn. One week in to my actual project, though, I’m pretty sure that was a blessing in disguise.

Turned away by larger companies, I started to search locally. Not quite sure what do do, I decided to look into tailoring. Since my arms are short-ish and my torso is long-ish, I can’t ever find shirts that fit. Inspired to do something about it, I figured it would be nice to be able to shorten sleeves myself. For that reason, because I find clothing interesting enough in general, also partially because I was running low on time, I decided to look into a third space at a local tailor. I hoped it would be a little easier to petition a third space in person, so I printed out five copies of the WISE info sheet, made a list of local shops whose Yelp reviews described them as “friendly,” put on a nice collared shirt, and headed out to hunt for an internship.

Five fliers turned out to be four too many. The first place I visitied (Moises, Gomez, and Associates, in Lafayette) was willing to give me a shot. Moises Gomez was on the top of my list, because it was close, and had perfect, 5-star reviews on Yelp, many of which raved about how nice Carlos is. Meeting Carlos Gomez for the first time, he certainly lived up to his reputation. Even though I confessed to not knowing one end of a needle from the other (not quite literally, but close), he was still willing to take me on.

Now what?

After locking in my third space around a week before the deadline, (and in a field far from the one I’d intended), I didn’t quite know what to expect.

I entered Moises, Gomez, and Associates on my first day, with only a minor amount of second-guessing. It was too late to change anything anyway. I didn’t exactly know what my goals were, other than to learn how to hem pants and shorten sleeves. However, within minutes I was confronted with my first goal: understand what the heck everything was.

Carlos has seven (!) sewing machines, each set up for something different, eight racks for various garments, one large (and confusing-looking) calendar, and more spools of thread, safety pins, scissors, and buttons than I can count. I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less, but I realized exactly how out of my depth I was when Carlos started showing me around. Luckily, he’s a very organized man, and each machine and and clothing rack has its purpose. His calendar is even color coordinated. Thanks to his effective organization, I was actually able to complete my first goal quite quickly. As it turns out, the sewing machines are set up to:

  1. Overlock (cleanly trim and finish the edge of something) with black thread
  2. Overlock with white thread (these machines pull from four spools of thread, and nobody wants to re-thread them just to change colors)
  3. Overlock with thread of other colors (this one is smaller, and easier to swap colors)
  4. Straight stitch most fabrics
  5. Straight stitch delicate fabrics like silk
  6. Straight stitch thick fabrics like denim
  7. Blind stitch the inside of hems to hold them in place (without the stitches showing on the outside)

I also picked up many of the other organizational systems within a few days, and started to feel at home at my third space. Once comfortable, I started to form longer-term goals.

My Goals

First and foremost, I hope to become more organized this semester. I’m prone to forgetting important due dates, and running late in general. However, I know that won’t fly with Carlos, since he was only willing to take me on after eliciting a promise that I would be punctual and respectful. To that end, I started using Google calendar last week, and added each of my obligations. I found out that I’m surprisingly busy for a second-semester senior (I still have obligations for WISE, wrestling, mock trial, public speaking, and OPI, the senior trip). Afterward, I’m glad I took the time to set everything up, because I definitely would’ve run into problems. As a matter of fact, I had to send Carlos another email changing the times I was available to ensure that I could make it to my next three wrestling duel meets. My challenge in the future will be to keep my calendar updated. If it’s anything like keeping my room clean, even once I get everything organized, it quickly falls into disarray.

Second, I’d like to take some skills home from my WISE project. I’m walking in with no tailoring knowledge, but I sure hope it doesn’t stay that way. Carlos has promised to teach me everything I need to know in order to become a tailor, but I won’t know how well I’m able to keep up until we really get into it. So far, there’s a lot of knowlege coming at me very quickly, and I find myself having to write it down immediately after leaving to remember it all (that’s a win for organization at least).

Third, I think it’s important that I find a way to give something back to Carlos. I was pretty surprised that he was willing to help me out, especially because I have no qualifications or skills whatsoever. Also, he’s been taking a significant amount of time to show me how everything works. He puts it best himself, when he says what amounts to: “As a skilled worker, I have to be fast in my work. If I’m slow and don’t get a lot done, I don’t get paid much.” When he said that, he was showing me some of the tricks he’s devised over the years to be faster, and I know he wasn’t trying to call me out, but I also know I’m not helping his productivity yet. Ideally, I’ll get good enough to do some of his work for him, as practice, but alternatively, I may spend some time cleaning, answering phones, organizing the racks of clothing in the back, or doing some other administrative tasks. Most likely, I’ll find myself doing a mixture of both, so I can help Carlos out too.