Meet The Woman Who Ran 200-Miles to Save A Dying Garment Industry

by Milan Ball

As we continue to celebrate Women’s History Month, social media timelines are flooded with the names of women whose success frequent headlines. Their stories are accompanied by quotes from historical figures whose narratives have annually re-emerged since grade school. Make no mistake, I have zero complaints about the pioneers whose sacrificial legacies made my life what it is today. The freedoms I enjoy to pursue creativity, employ a passionate career, and carve my own path are privileges I dare not take for granted. This year, however, I could not help but ask myself, “Who are the unsung female change makers of today?” “Who are the voices we’ll celebrate only after realizing their supporting roles were the true catalysts of innovation?” One woman nestled in the heart of Baltimore, is worthy of the title; her name is Stacy Stube.

The Indonesian-American designer is paving a way for emerging talent to reclaim artisanship and rebuild a garment industry that fashion has seemingly forgotten about.

 

The Future of America’s Garment Industry Rests in The Strides of Women

In 2019, Stacy Stube launched “SEW Bromo” a collective working to reinstate the hum of sewing machines throughout Baltimore’s Charm City. Second to New York’s famous garment district, Baltimore was once an American manufacturing hub, whirring with the buzz of production. Mid-Atlantic accessibility coupled with the perks of ‘Made in USA’ branding have attracted household names for decades.

Several brands have produced in Baltimore’s manufacturers such as Rag & Bone, J. Crew, Coach, Norma Kamali, and Diane von Furstenberg. Strolling through the hallways of 1100 Wicomico, Stacy Stube previously served as the Head of Innovation at one of these factories. It was here where she saw an opportunity in the vacant workspaces belonging to former manufacturing titans. 

 

(Pictured Left to Right: SEW Bromo Educator Nicole Samodurov and Stacy Stube The SEW Bromo Factory)

 

Ultimately, Stube recognized that the talent once occupying these industrial spaces are aging into retirement. Furthermore, there are no artisans to pass on the torch of craftsmanship. Armed with a conviction to keep tradeskills alive, Stube kicked off 2021 with a 200-mile run around Baltimore’s City Harbor. Documenting the rigorous journey on YouTube, the designer brought awareness to a crowdfunding campaign that would fund her Fashion Innovation Hub (FIH) ambitions.

Alongside the trade skills education offered by SEW Bromo, the FIH incubator invites start-up fashion entrepreneurs to beta test concept design with small batch production. These low quantity minimums allow the sustainably conscious entrepreneur to produce responsibly. In a competitive industry with dwindling options for aspiring ‘Made in USA’ designers, Stube offers a launchpad for emerging talent knowing all too well the challenges that accompany launching a brand.

 

Owning Her Path and Honing Opportunity

 

After 10 years abroad, Stube returned to her hometown of Baltimore with a joint Masters degree from London College of Fashion and London Business School; as well as her own label Elsa Fitzgerald added to her resume. The designer launched the brand during her 3 years living in Bali, Indonesia with hopes of reshoring production to the United States. She is adorned with experience at household names like Alexander McQueen, Hugo Boss, Temperley London, and Diane von Furstenberg, sharing a wealth of wisdom in addition to her 5000 square feet of factory space. It is the generous, audacious, and uplifting nature of women like Stacy Stube that deserve the spotlight this Women’s History Month.

 

(Pictured: Stacy Stube in the Baltimore Museum of Industry)

 

As the fashion industry scrambles to introduce sustainable business models, waste reduction, and faces a declining pool of artisanal talent, SEW Bromo provides a light at the end of the tunnel and a beacon of hope on the horizon of innovation. It has been recently publicized that SEW Bromo has been accepted to the Halcyon Opportunity Intensive in Georgetown. The prestigious Halcyon mission is to fuel entrepreneurs and artists whose ideas drive the world forward. In working with early-stage social entrepreneurs, the organization equips emerging leaders with the resources to achieve scalable impact.

 

Learn more about SEW Bromo and the Fashion Innovation Hub by visiting their website, YouTube, or following Stacy Stube’s journey on LinkedIn

All images courtesy of Stacy Stube and SEW Bromo. 

 

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