How the Williamsburg Seamster Comes Out on Top
Brands are not reserved for companies with expensive ad campaigns and Super Bowl commercials. With a unique take in an established industry perhaps nobody can demonstrate that better than Nayantara Banerjee aka The Williamsburg Seamster. You’ve read about her in Refinery 29 and you’ll be seeing her again. A seamstress, based in her home, Nayantara has a brand of her own cultivated through hard work and a little ingenuous honesty among other things.
Before you can become a successful brand, a booming business doesn’t hurt. That is customers/clients who want your services. That’s exactly what Nayantara encountered.
“It really seemed there was a great need for what I was doing,” she said. “Obviously there are dry cleaners and plenty other seamstresses and tailors who are very capable, but I think I have a little bit more of a fresh approach to it.”
Speak the language
“I also speak the language- a younger person’s language. When someone says they want something short, but not too short I know what that means more so than maybe some of the older people who’ve been doing it for many, many generations.”
Speaking in that younger voice also includes being on social media. She had a MySpace page back when it was cool. She got a Facebook page as soon as she could get the customized url. Nowadays, she’s most active on Instagram. To make things simple she links everything to update her Twitter.
Social media can be used to portray the crux of a business and Nayantara does that. “Before and after photos say the most,” she said.
Something you’ll see reflected in her social media is her strong belief in sustainable fashion. For instance, she posted on Instagram a picture of her assistant who used turmeric to dye a muslin top.
Quality over Quantity
Working from home she grapples with the possibility of getting a more traditional space and having more seamstresses to work beside her. She’s reviewed Yelp pages and noticed that competitors lose quality as they hire more people. “The quality of the work goes down as the consistency gets lost. I don’t want to lose that. I don’t want to take on more work for the sake of more money. I want to be able to do it myself” as a means of keeping the quality high.
While providing a needed service is a part of the success equation how does one go about finding clients? She grew her business mainly from word of mouth. Some of the Seamster’s first marketing efforts included strategic flyering in vintage stores and bars. She would tell vintage store owners “if they [customers] buy it, I can fix it. Works for shop owners and for me.”
All this awesomeness didn’t happen overnight. “When I was a kid I learned how to sew from my mom.” In high school Nayantara had a class called wardrobe that took home ec to another level. “I’m very much a project driven person. With alteration you have a problem and you get to see that visible, tangible change.”
“Financially or mentally marry your project and don’t do it half-hearted.” – Nayantara Banerjee
When she first started working for herself she knew it was a risk, but that she had a few things going for her. “I don’t have a mortgage or babies so maybe now is the right time to see if I can make this into a business,” Nayantara recounted thinking at the time. “I really liked doing it. It was a risk so I bartended as a back-up for the first couple of years.” Before that she worked for BurdaStyle creating sewing patterns and how-to’s. This independent seamstress with a brand of gold has now been working for herself for 6 years.
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