A local seamstress takes a moment to reflect … but not for long—orders are waiting
By Grace Menchaca
When asked what inspired her to start sewing as a profession, Brooke Burch remarks that nothing inspired her—she just knew. “Nobody introduced me to fashion design,” she notes. “I started sewing by hand when I was a child. My grandma saw that I liked sewing, so she got me a sewing machine.”
BEHIND THE STITCH
Burch was born in Charlotte, North Carolina but moved to the Rochester area when she was 3. During her younger years, she would cut clothes and sew them together as recycled fashion projects. By college Burch’s sewing skills bloomed into opportunities that led her to New York City and London. Those hustle and bustle environments somehow reflect her work ethic perfectly. “I am a workaholic,” she laughs.
But since creating Brooke Burch Custom Sewing & Alterations, the laughter doesn’t mean she’s joking. “I set my own hours, but usually I have errands to run in the morning. So, it could be anything like going to the bank, post office and then meeting up with my embroiderer for different projects. Then in the afternoon, once the school year has started, I have students come in for lessons. I have clients come in for fittings or pickups. And throughout the day I’m usually on the phone making appointments.” Just another booked and busy day for a seamstress on the rise.
SEWING IN THE TIME OF CRISIS
Since the onset of COVID-19, Burch and her small team have made over 3200 customized face masks, each one as unique and well-made as the other. “A friend of mine is doing some pressing for me,” she explains. “I do the cutting, bring them to her and she presses them. I get them back and sew the masks.”
However, small batches of those orders represent more than a face covering. With the increased attention on racial inequality and injustice in the country, the conversation and representation of Black Lives Matter caused an order surge for the business.
“We’ve made probably over 250 Black Lives Matter masks, and the orders are still coming in,” she says. “I think people need to know there are Black professionals out here. They probably didn’t even know that some of the businesses around are owned by people of color. It’s shedding light on so many things in our community, and that can only benefit everyone.”
HOW SHE DOES IT
Among the business errands, client orders, face mask batches and classes, Burch knows a thing or two about how to manage her time and a business from home. “You need to be organized, open-minded and try to help your customer in every way possible.” Since launching five years ago, her customer loyalty still surprises her as new and old faces find the third-floor apartment business.
Burch’s entrepreneurial spirit comes to light with each opportunity to thread a new order. “I am always thinking of new ideas to make things easier and better. I am also always willing to try something new and work with somebody that I haven’t worked with before.” She may be far from New York City, but Rochester has been a successful home base for her to raise her family and business. “I learned that I have a lot of community support I didn’t know I had,” she says.
To learn more about Burch’s services, what she’s currently creating or how to start your first stitch, go to brookeburch.com.