Four years ago, Jill Andrews, an experienced dressmaker and Sara Mathes, an experienced seamstress teamed up to open a bridal/ custom clothing studio in Hampden.
“With the economic downturn around 2009, we were being faced with cutbacks at work and we decided to strike out on our own,” Mathes said. We knew it was risky, but it was worth the risk because the potential has always been there.”
Each one of kind garment is designed and handmade by the ladies of Jill Andrew Gowns with detailed craftsmanship and locally sourced materials.
Besides being a dream place for brides in Baltimore, Jill Andrews Gowns rents out their studio for photo shoots as well as parties and collaborated with other local fashion businesses such as Two Back Flats.
What type of tasks do you embark on a daily basis?
“Every day we are sewing,” Mathes said. There is always something that needs to be altered, finished, patterned, etc. It’s almost always busy! Sometimes we are working on alterations for film/tv, sometimes its costumes for theater and then, of course, there are the bridal and evening gowns.”
What would you describe as a career defining moment?
“It’s so hard to say because I feel like each gown we complete is a defining moment,” Mathes said. They are all so special! I would say that seeing the New York Times review the costumes for the Shakespeare in the Park production we worked on was pretty great. Jane Greenwood was the costume designer- she is amazing and so, so talented. Working with her was wonderful.”
What is your biggest challenge you face as a fashion designer?
“It has always been difficult to find the time to do the essential business duties, Mathes said. Things that aren’t fun and almost never seem to feel like a finished product! Because Jill and I pretty much work on everything ourselves, we have had difficulty finding the time to do events and focus efforts on marketing.”
Tips for Aspiring Fashion Designers
- Keep going and keep learning! Understand how to market yourself and master the internet!
- Time management can NOT be understated, it is so important.
- Many successful people aren’t the most talented people; they just approach their art as a business.
- Be kind. Being nasty might get something done for you once, but if you want to have a career, relationships are key.
Pick up the June issue of Baltimore Style and check out Maryland’s first lady modeling a Jill Andrews Gown. (Photo below by Cade Martin).