Meet Rebecca: Entrepreneur, Seamstress, and Educator
I recently had the opportunity to speak with Rebecca Szetela for **Learnivore's "Most Interesting People in the World" series.** She is both the owner and sewing instructor in the fast-paced, creative environment she has developed at [Create! Sewing Studio](http://www.createsew.com/) in Acton, MA.
As a product of the tail-end of Gen X, I have had very little exposure to sewing in both practical, everyday use and as an art form. Therefore, I was really interested in how a mode of creation like sewing continues to furnish valuable enrichment in a world where its practical use has been outsourced. Not only did Rebecca give me an idea of the technical aspects of sewing, but she showed me why it's much more than the modern perspective of a simple, functional, solitary female activity. It's about art. It's about design. It's for everyone. And it's her business.
**[Follow Rebecca on Learnivore!](https://learnivore.com/users/rebecca2007)**
**[You can also sign up for private instruction](https://learnivore.com/instructors/learn-to-sew-with-the-founder-of-create-sewing-studio) with Rebecca.** She works with all ages and ability levels, so she's a great fit no matter if you're just learning how to sew or looking to advance your technique.
**How did you get into sewing?**
*Rebecca:* I've been doing it my whole life. I received my undergrad degree from Tufts in art history and studio art. I was then a graphic designer for many years and once I got pregnant with my son, I decided to make a change. I got my Masters in Business Administration from Simmons School of Management and then made the jump to opening my own business in Acton. Create! Sewing Studio took off after about a year.
**So you live in the Boston area. Is there anything different about being a sewing instructor there as compared to elsewhere?**
*Rebecca:* There is actually a lot of interest in sewing to the west of Boston in Acton. Not only is there a solid interest in education, but parents in the area put a particular emphasis on alternative and additional education. This means that about 75-80 percent of my students are children. These kids find that sewing is both a creative outlet and a useful skill.
**I think this is great because, with the modern obsession with emerging technologies, I don't hear much talk about sewing any more.**
*Rebecca:* That's the thing. Sewing and cooking were the thing when I was growing up. Things have changed with girls being driven toward careers and the international trend toward outsourcing clothing production. The sewing machine is historically one of the wonders of the world; once it was invented, people could finally make quality clothing in their own homes. Kids nowadays don’t understand where clothing comes from. They're not even made on sewing machines anymore, but on mass production machines in third-world countries.
**You say that girls often did the sewing in the home and it has traditionally been seen as a feminine behavior. Do you ever have boys taking your classes?**
*Rebecca:* There are boys that take sewing classes. Not as many as the girls, but there are some. And it's funny because I notice that boys look at sewing in a different way than the girls. Girls thrive on the fashion aspect of creating their own clothing and the final product. Boys really focus on the mechanics of machine.
**Sort of like how a car mechanic would have an interest in the working of an engine.**
*Rebecca:* Exactly. My husband is actually quite accomplished and makes his own dress shirts for work. He even made all of his fishing gear. If you look back, tailors were mainly men, but now sewing is very feminized.
**Have you always loved sewing, or have there been times where you have struggled with it?**
*Rebecca:* I've *never* struggled with it. I sewed my first project when I was 8 or 9. There were two machines at home and all of the women in my family used them. The thing about sewing is that running a sewing machine isn't difficult. I can teach a 7-year-old to run one in half an hour; what is challenging is understanding how a garment is put together, how different fabrics work, understanding the fit, and how to make it look good on you. There are a lot of very subtle aspects; tension in how you hold it, attention to detail, etc. These are things that can make sewing a challenge.
**So, what's the thing you're most proud of as it relates to sewing?**
*Rebecca:* The sewing business or sewing in general?
*Rebecca:* Starting a business like this from scratch and having it be successful feels like an incredible achievement! As far as sewing in general, the most elaborate thing I've sewn is a retro-style robe made from panne velvet that was inspired by Hollywood-style robes from the 20's and 30's. I've even sewn my own bathing suits using 4-way stretch Lycra. I even sewed my own wedding gown way BACK in ancient history!
**Rebecca went on to tell a story about one of her students.**
*A lot of these kids make clothes that they're proud to wear.* I had an 8-year-old girl who made a beautiful sundress and wore it to school. The teacher asked her where she'd gotten it and she told her that she had made it herself. The teacher, thinking that the girl couldn't possibly have done so herself, accused her of lying and actually called her mother about it! The mother, upset, told the teacher that not only does her daughter sew and sew well, but she is NOT a liar! I was really surprised that the teacher reacted that way...
**What would people who identify you solely as a sewing instructor be surprised to learn about you?**
*Rebecca:* That I have an MBA and that I am not just a sewing instructor. People think I started this business because I'm a seamstress. That's not the case. I started a sewing studio because I wanted to recreate the creative environment that my parents gave me access to. My mother was a designer; she had every kind of art supply and, although we didn't always have money, we always had access to art. I had a vision of a creative space where people could have that same thing.
The kernel for me is supporting kids, especially those who may not have as many options to be creative as we did growing up. They really can't believe that they can actually make stuff and wear it! It makes my job worth all of the hard work.
*Are you an instructor? Would you like to be featured on our "Most Interesting People in the World" Series? If so, create an instructor profile on Learnivore, and post it to our Facebook or Twitter pages. We'll contact the people with the best profiles. Great profiles are complete, interesting, have confirmed students and reviews, and a few blog posts.*