After working for 31 years for apparel and textile companies, in 2013 Annie Miller directed her vast industry experience to educate and guide individuals and growing companies toward success and profitability.
Providing unique design, impeccable fit, creative development, global sourcing, and manufacturing efficiencies, Annie pushes fashion forward toward success. Annie has traveled the world to source raw materials and labor, ensuring ethical practices and quality products. Being both a right and a left brained thinker, she proves you can apply artistic innovation to solve any problem. Because of Annie's extensive hands on experience designing, CAD patterning and grading, product development, manufacturing, and leadership, she has achieved notoriety in the industry as a valuable resource.
Terri Stipanovich is a veteran of working with immigrants and refugees both in St. Louis and the Horn of Africa. As the leader of The Collective Thread and Nala program , she has succeeded in attracting volunteers and raising funds from diverse faith groups as well as private donors. Her charity currently operates from a Central West End location where a team of sewers completes projects for TriFlare LLC and a few other fashion start-ups.
A shortage of well-trained industrial sewers is holding back efforts to revitalize the St. Louis fashion industry. As of June local manufacturers had posted over 75 job openings for skilled sewers. Some were offering signing bonuses as high as $500.
St. Louis designers and startups ready to produce clothing lines need a "cut and sew" factory in the city, capable of producing small initial orders. Manufacturers with their own veteran production employees anticipate staffing challenges as older workers begin to retire and no one in town is ready to take their places.
Our local not-for-profit, Nala which is a project of The Collective Thread has experience teaching immigrant women sewing skills. During the past five years The Collective Thread has graduated 17 women from their beginner sewing school with a 90% employment outcome.
In addition to the industrial sewing school, The Collective Thread founder Terri Stipanovich is planning a full-service design and small batch manufacturing operation in the same facility. Such an operation would meet the needs of St. Louis fashion brands like TriFlare, a sportswear company which has been using factories in China and Los Angeles. TriFlare owner and St. Louisan, Andrea Robertson is looking for a quick production turn-around to meet the needs of national athletic and swim teams, including SWIM TEAM USA! The Collective Thread and The Nala Project is currently sewing for Triflare but need additional space and equipment to handle all of Triflare's cut and sewing needs, keeping business in St. Louis.
The St. Louis City based operation would house local designers, sewing trainers and state of the art industrial equipment. Stipanovich envisions helping hundreds of underemployed women and men find fair wage employment opportunities at local garment production firms like Weissman Dance Wear or tailoring shops. Terri has met with these local companies and they are offering their assistance to help get the facility and school advancing toward the goals set. There will be three employment streams; Industrial Sewing @ Weissman for those needing full time employment with benefits, Tailoring & Alterations at identified studios, Home based, and Terri's Small Batch Manufacturing Facility.
This kind of vocational training is not available in local post high school educational institutions. Yet efforts to restart the St. Louis garment Industry will fail if qualified industrial sewers are not looking for work in the Gateway city.
Stipanovich is building a team of business women and men, designers,non-profit leaders, St. Louis clothing brand owners and teachers to complete plans and launch the joint sewing school-small batch manufacturing facility.