Company: Sew What?
Current Product Line:
GETT WETT swimwear
Paul Michael Leather
Graduated Summa Cum Laude from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale
Fashion Design Program
First Product Line:
Partynplaywear, est. 2003
A Brief Autobiography
I always had an interest in clothing and fashion. Being a club kid in Pittsburgh, PA., I was daily shopping for outfits for the night life. I bought my first sewing machine, a robin egg blue Cavalier for $10. It only sewed forward and back, but I loved it. Everyday clothes were purchased at thrift stores, altered, and worn out that night. Dreams of escaping Pittsburgh to the Fashion Institute of Technology or Parson's in New York filled my head. I even took a job at a sweatshop in East Liberty to learn to sew better and faster. Well, that lasted all of two weeks.
Years later I met Lynne Vincent, a dressmaker. We were fast friends and eventually became roommates. Her business was run out of our apartment in St. Augustine, Florida, where I learned the business. This became the model for the business I would start years later.
After being diagnosed HIV+, I saw an end to my culinary career. Out of ignorance I concluded that I needed to start a business in the event that I became too sick to cook, and with the help of my best friend, Scott Schaefer, I bought my first industrial sewing machine. One by one, machines were purchased to produce swimwear and clubwear. Partynplaywear was born. It was not successful, but sources and connections were made that are with me to this day.
A move from Hollywood, Florida, to Fort Lauderdale was made and the central location encouraged me to start again. This time the goal was to broaden the market and focus more on alterations, a service that everyone needs. Sew What? was born and survived.
In my door to door marketing, I stopped at a local retailer looking to handle their alterations. I met the owners who were thrilled to discover that I had experience in swimwear. I began production of their swim suits out of my home studio. In March 2009, the production studio was relocated into the back of their retail location.
In August 2010, 'Sew What?' made the next leap and moved to it's own studio in downtown Oakland Park. Business has been great with the long list of clientele I have been building over the last few years.
It never ceases to amaze me to look back and see so many apparently unrelated events come together to bring about the realization of a dream.