Business Person of the Month: Andrea Eastin of Fair Fit Studios

Fair Fit Studios

401 Longwood Court, Unit C

Baton Rouge, LA 70806

The range of group classes, private lessons, video tutorials, and online articles that is Fair Fit Studio was born in Andrea Eastin’s midcity home four years ago, but Eastin herself has been part of the handmade fashion world for much longer. After achieving a bachelor’s degree in Painting and Drawing from the University of Iowa and attending workshops in dye and surface design at the Penland School of Craft, Eastin attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for a Master of Fiber and Material Studies degree. There, she also taught a beginner-to-advanced curriculum of four classes in sewing, with an emphasis on clothing construction and fashion. She set up a fashion line in New Orleans until the disaster of Hurricane Katrina forced her and so many others out of the city, but later moved back to complete what felt like unfinished business. “I came back to New Orleans and I got really involved with the fashion scene there that was growing because of the post-Katrina influx of new people and new initiatives,” Eastin said.

IMG_2007
Fair Fit Studios class space and workroom.

Though fashion and clothing design remained (and continue to be) one of Eastin’s passions, it was difficult to meet the production demands of clothing stores that were interested in carrying her lines. “I knew I was in a model that I did not have the resources or the capacity to make successful from where I was,” she said. “I had to just totally start over. Sometimes being able to totally start over can bring something really amazing into your life, because you’re not repeating something you know how to do.” A marriage (to local hairdresser and creative director Paul Eastin), a move to Baton Rouge, and a “stop-doing” year to give herself a chance to recharge were just what was needed to let the idea of Fair Fit Studios percolate. The move especially helped to shape the business: Where New Orleans is known for its grandiose celebrations and regular festivals, all of which require a different custom-made costume or gown and each of which places severe constraints on the natural ebb and flow of clientele, Eastin found that “here people are really looking for ways that they can grow their children’s interests. With the private lessons for teenagers and children that I do, that’s often parents that know their child loves fashion, or wants to know how to sew, and they don’t have anybody that can teach them. And so the parents really try to figure out how this can be their kid’s thing.” Private lessons may be anything from a young child designing and sewing her own Christmas dress with Eastin’s careful supervision, to a teenager building a portfolio to apply to advanced courses of study with the benefit of Eastin’s vast technical skill.

The name “Fair Fit” comes from Eastin’s academic background and personal philosophy towards fashion and clothing design – it was originally the title of her thesis at the Art Institute. In this case, “fair” means both “adequate” and “just,” and plays off rising concerns about where clothing is made and how it is paid for. “It was a form of grading, meaning sizing, that I created so that it had some play – could be customized. I named it off of my clothing line because I think it’s more fair to teach a person the skills … it’s more fair if you have the autonomy to be able to make it yourself and to make your own decisions, it’s more democratic that way, than having to find somebody to do it for you, or having to rely on what already exists to make the choice for you. It’s not fair that we don’t have these skills anymore,” she said. The Fair Fit dress and pattern will soon be available online, and Eastin will teach classes on her sizing system.

The Fair Fit pattern pieces.
The Fair Fit pattern pieces. The pattern is designed so that each piece can be swapped out for one of a different size, creating an individualized fit.
The Fair Fit dress.
The Fair Fit dress.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many of the emails Fair Fit Studios receives are centered around the problem of fit and how rarely something off-the-rack is a perfect match, either physically or aesthetically. “The hard thing is, you have a unique perspective, and they’re not trying to appeal to that. So then you can either do it yourself, or you can pay someone to do it for you, which, I don’t know if you really want to go down that route,” Eastin laughed. “There’s no way to make a dress that makes everybody happy. But there’s a reason why they don’t fit right: because it costs too much money for them to fit right.” Even professional sewers struggle with learning how to design and construct clothing in a way that excites their client base, and as Eastin said, that’s because “if I go about making the way you want it for your body, you’re still going to be unhappy, because it’s not your perspective, it’s still my perspective. So if you just teach people the skill, that’s the closest to fair in fashion that I have gotten.”

Even creatively focused small businesses need growth, and to accomplish this, Fair Fit recently began offering online classes in beginners sewing and basic patterns. Eastin also dedicates more time to the blog, writing a combination of articles on everything from upcoming in-person classes to the how-tos of pattern piecing to philosophy of design. “I like to feel like I’m enterprising, just always thinking of how can we offer more. But I’m still one person,” she said. Eastin is thus committed to steady, reliable growth of 17% per quarter (a number derived based on the advice of a business coach). “It’s more about what’s that one next achievable step that’s towards growth,” she said, than about doubling profit or output as quickly as possible – sustainability in the long term over more dramatic results more quickly. “Same as with sewing, creating a business is not really that different from creating an art project. It has a circuitry. It has a series of steps. It has a way that it reaches other people, and there is an exchange. You shouldn’t go, ‘oh! But the money isn’t important to me.’ Of course it is, right? But you just make sure you’re not trying to put expectations on it that are the same as what a marketing business would grow, or a tire business.”

For aspiring entrepreneurs, the library can be an invaluable resource – Eastin has used everything from online audiobooks to listen to while she works on sewing projects, to spaces outside of her home that make it easier to concentrate on business writing, to advertising upcoming classes, to classic sewing instruction books for deeper research. “I really believe that a lot of the great references are there. A lot of people believe that you should really learn sewing on YouTube these days, but there’s such good information in the classics. Those books from the 50s, 60s, and 70s are amazing. That’s how I learned,” she said. (The fashion conscious can also use online resources like Women’s Wear Daily and the Vogue Archives to check out styles of the day as far back as the 1800s.)

Join the Fair Fit Studios emailing list to learn about upcoming classes, both in-house and online, and for more information about every aspect of fashion design. You can also follow Fair Fit’s Facebook page.

Adult Coloring Sessions at the Library

2016-11-21-09_00_39-ebrpl-com-_-east-baton-rouge-parish-library

For many, this holiday season is not going to be terribly relaxing. Come unwind (and make yourself something pretty!) at one of the library’s adult coloring sessions!

  • Main Library at Goodwood – 7 PM Tuesday, November 29th
  • Carver Branch – 3 PM Wednesday, November 30th
  • Pride-Cheneyville Branch – 4 PM Tuesday, November 22nd
  • Eden Park Branch – 6 PM Thursday, December 1st
  • River Center Branch – 3:30 PM Monday, December 5th

You can bring your own coloring book and colors, or you can use the materials we provide. It’s a great way to unwind!

International Creativity Month

January is International Creativity Month! Join us in celebration!

We’re holding a little contest. Since the library has so many craft-based programs and a 3D printer of our very own, we really want to highlight our patrons’ creativity by picking the best library-made thing of the month!

There are lots of ways to enter. You can:

Isn’t it great to have options?

Halloween potion bottles craft at the Fairwood Branch
Halloween potion bottles craft at the Fairwood Branch
A selection of the reference department director's 3D printed nerdery.
A selection of the reference department director’s 3D printed nerdery.

Anything that you make at a library program or get us to 3D print for you (for a $1.00 submission fee, plus $0.10/gram of material) is fair game. We’ll gather the ten best creations into a Facebook album, and you’ll all get to vote. You could win a gift certificate to a local business! (More on that as it develops.)

If you’ve never used a 3D printer before, no biggy! Sketchup Make (formerly Google Sketchup) is a free 3D modeling program with lots of tutorials to teach you everything you need to know. Sites like Thingiverse also have free model files that you can customize as much as you want!

So come on, EBR! Show us your creative side.

The Library’s Got Style

epilogue

Uncommon Thread, a fashion-focused section of the Baton Rouge arts-focused cultural organization Culture Candy, has chosen the newly built Main Library as the location for their 2015 Wearable Art Show. This year’s event will be held on December 5th at 8:00 PM. (From 3D printing, to career counseling, to a full-on juried fashion show – we would say this isn’t your grandmother’s library, but it totally is. In fact, you should bring her around more often. We miss her. How is she?)

Uncommon Thread reached out to the library because of this year’s theme, “Epilogue.” Designers are encouraged to draw inspiration from books as both content (authors, characters, works, and genres) and medium (physical, digital, and the shift between). For those who want to enter their designs, the deadline is November 16th, with an entry fee of $20 per two entries. Accepted designers will be notified by November 23rd and must submit their finished work by November 30th. For those who would like to attend, tickets are available online for $15 (students), $20, or $35 (includes pre-show party).

Perhaps it was David Bowie who said it best: “Fashion! Turn to the left! Fashion! Turn to the right!” There’s a lot to unpack there, so if you’re looking for something else to do while you think about it, why not use our brand-new Fashion infoguide to learn how to make clothes as eye-catching as his? It’s got everything from the history of the industry to inspiration for this year’s theme. There’s still time to put together a design or two of your own!

Prove Miranda Priestly wrong.

If you want to take some inspiration from history, we particularly recommend The Vogue Archives and The Women’s Wear Daily Archive, two great resources for historical information on changes in fashion design and advertising that both have updates into the present day. Both of these databases combined present literally hundreds of years of material (get it? Because, clothes?) stretching back to the nineteenth century.

This screenshot of the first issue of Vogue ever published, dated 17 December 1892, proves that the past was both well-dressed and hilarious.
This screenshot of the first issue of Vogue ever published, dated 17 December 1892, proves that the past was both well-dressed and hilarious.

Keep an eye on our Pinterest board and our Tumblr, because as the date of the show draws near we’re going to be featuring lots of great ideas to keep you looking fresh.

Make It with the Library

Do you love arts and crafts? Did September’s Mini Maker Faire give you dreams of a display table of your very own? Do you have a favorite hobby, or are you looking for a new one to try? Well, have we got the resource for YOU.

The Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center has recipes, instructions, ideas, articles, and more on subjects from getting started with stamp collecting to whipping up a batch of wasabi mashed potatoes. Just look:

HCRC Categories

You can either run a general search through the whole database to see what comes up across categories, or click on, for example, Science & Technology for some suggested searches:

HCRC Categories Focused

With your library card, you have free access to all the guides and articles that the Hobbies and Crafts Reference Center has to offer – for example, after you take the Telescope Training Class at the Main Library, you can check out the telescope and use the “Astronomy” hobby category for ideas of what to look at!

And don’t forget to keep an eye out for craft classes at a library branch near you!

Crafting for a Cause

Whether you are new to the art of crochet, want to improve your skills, or just want to enjoy the company of adult fellow crafters, the Pride-Chaneyville Branch is where you need to be! Come to the Library acrochett 1 p.m. every Thursday in May, to crochet comfort shawls. Items made through this program will be created for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge to benefit their many charitable programs, along with organizations like The Leprosy Mission in Anandaban Hospital in Kathmandu, Nepal; War Veterans Hospital; Pregnancy Problem Center; St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital; Hope House; and the Battered Women’s Shelter. Donations of supplies or finished items also are welcome. Also, check out our Source newsletter online or at any branch for more information on other crafting events.