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Meet Margarete Dorsey of Alterations By Sandra in East Village

Today we’d like to introduce you to Margarete Dorsey.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Margarete. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
In my native Germany, I completed my bachelor’s degree in women’s custom as well as a 3-year dressmaking apprenticeship and 1-year dressmaking internship. I also met and fell in love with a service member that would eventually become my husband. During our time in Germany, we owned and operated several bars and sewing played no role in my life other than making custom outfits for myself and my sister. My husband and I relocated to San Diego from Germany in 2006. My culture shock from moving to such a large city kept me from working for almost 2 years after my arrival. I finally got a job with a dry cleaner doing alterations and discovered that my training and background experience set me in a different class from fashion schools that turned out designers, merchandisers, and administrators. I was able to do alterations that most other sewing professionals considered impossible, or not worth their while. My successes led me from one dry cleaner to the next until my husband told me in seriously needed to go into business for myself. So, I acquired some financing, and opened my storefront on a super shoe string budget in October of 2014. Three years on and we’re still going strong.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road has definitely not been smooth. A couple of months after we opened I was hospitalized and had to undergo emergency surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from my abdomen. I had to undergo debilitating chemotherapy and return to work with minimal downtime. You simply cannot brides you can’t finish their wedding gown in time for their big day because you’re sick. We had to make payment arrangements with our landlord, creditors, etc., because we didn’t have anything to pay them with. Almost everyone worked with us, especially the landlord for our store and although we were seriously breaking for a good while, and not completely out of the woods yet, we got through our payment arrangements, got back on track with our bills and have seen increased business each year since.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
At Alterations by Sandra, I specialize in couture alterations. My passion is for the proper fit and appearance of garments on my customers. When a customer comes in for an alteration, as opposed to just fitting them for the alteration they want, I consult with them on the result of the alteration on the overall appearance of the garment, and if there’s an undesired result, I tell them. I have customers that come in with items that just don’t “fell right” when worn. We do a fitting to find the trouble spot, and that spot turns out to be an improperly sewn lining that’s tugging on a seam. Sometimes an inexpensive fix, sometimes not. I’m most proud of the fact that I can explain to customers, in detail, what’s wrong with their garments, or why it going to cost what it’s going to cost to fix an issue. The thing that sets me apart from other sewing professionals is training and background. Here in the United States, schools are not geared to turn out people with in depth skills for alterations. If you look at fashion programs, their geared to turn out fashion designers and theater costumers with minimal training in sewing and alterations. My background and experience are specifically alterations to make garments fit a particular person perfectly.

What were you like growing up?
My parents owned and operated a large festival hall in Germany. I grew up loving to meet and have a good time with people. Parallel to that was my love of fashion and designers. I also handled a lot of the administrative work for an advertising agency that my mother owned. But once the work day was over, my biggest desire was to get away from all the noise and bustle in the quiet of my home.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
For the pictures titled “Collin Chappelle from Still + Motion Visuals”, please add his name and company as image credits. No credits are required for the other photos.

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