Thoughts from a Boot Camp Attendee

Gwen sent me an email detailing her impressions of our last event. She agreed to allow me to publish it in the event that it answers questions someone may have about attending. For what it’s worth, we are technically full but several people haven’t paid their deposit, meaning if you registered and paid, you could get in. Onto Gwen:

Hello Kathleen!

First of all, thank you! Thank you for allowing me to attend this Fall’s coat making bootcamp. I had such mixed expectations based on hearsay from previous attendees that I was honestly psyching myself out about it all leading me to be very afraid and nervous. However, upon getting myself settled and into the work week, all of my fears disappeared.

Second of all, I have nothing at all bad to say! I truly enjoyed myself and will most definitely try to attend when I am able!

The meat and bones:

On the first day (orientation day) I did have a bit of a freak out. As someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, my anxiety really got the best of me that day. I really wanted to perform well, and being in the room with a lot of people receiving a lot of information at once triggered an anxiety attack. One of which I did apologize to you for because I didn’t want you to think I didn’t care or didn’t want to listen! I really thought that on this trip my anxiety would continue to get the best of me but it slowly got washed away upon everyone there checking in on me and asking if I was okay or needed anything. Which brings me to my first praise: everyone there is so kind and so welcoming that it warmed my heart. Every day, I had people checking in to see how I was. I even enjoyed you asking me from time to time if I was having fun! It was so nice and I will never forget the kindness shown to me for that week.

Another one of my fears prior to going was the idea that I would have the least amount of experience. Having only just graduated in May, I don’t think that much of myself in terms of what I am good at. While I was assured numerous times that I could pick and choose my jobs at will, I still had it in my head that I would be delegated a job I didn’t think I was cut out for. Second praise: everyone made each job feel as though it was seemingly nothing to worry about. Even the bigger more daunting ones. For me, anyway, when I felt like I wouldn’t succeed well in a position I was taught how and asked if I still wanted to do it. That gave me the push I needed to try new things. Even going so far as to actually sew for a bit. My sewing skills aren’t the best but knowing that people there thought what I did so was up to standard boosted my confidence in that task. I really appreciated that we as attendees were given the chance to get our hands dirty, get comfortable and grow within a certain task. Now I can say with confidence that my sewing skills are better than I thought and that I can work a bar tack machine with ease!

Something else that I got to take home with me was a sense of wanting to work more with others. As an introvert and someone who prefers solitude (let me tell you, being with 29 other people during the day and more than 10 in the evenings wore me out!) I didn’t think I would want to work on things that required more than one person. However, every task required more than one person! AH! Over time though, I found myself really loving the camaraderie that formed and how we all became one cohesive working group. Seeing things move down the line of production knowing that we all are working together really grew on me! After getting home, I craved that teamwork more and I am looking forward to working with a lot of people in the future! I likened it to a hive. We were all little worker bees working to provide for the overall picture: the coats.

One of the reasons I decided to come to bootcamp was to be able to be apart of something bigger than just myself. I find it really easy to get inside my head and care about only myself and my well being but sometimes it’s important to stop and think about other people and THEIR well being as well. Knowing that something I helped make would go to benefit so many people and that you are so passionate about that really spoke to me. I loved meeting the people in the community that you work with and hearing them thank us for doing what we were doing but I really wanted to thank them for putting so much trust in US. Each day that I woke up tired and missing home, I reminded myself that this, ultimately, isn’t about me. It’s about getting something done to bring something to life that someone else will be able to love and get use out of. Essentially, it was about stepping out of my own privilege. It was a humbling experience and I gained so much from it.

Lastly, I wanted to give the highest of praises to you, Kathleen! Upon arrival, I knew that you were someone of importance to this industry. I really appreciate what you’re doing, where you’re going and how you do it all. I think that opening up your factory and trusting so many strangers to get a job that you care so much about done is admirable. While some people might have said they find it hard to communicate with you, I did not. I found it rather easy just by being myself and making sure to do so on a level of respect but still knowing that when it all boils down to it, I am still a student learning and you know what you’re talking about! At the end of it all, I told everyone I was with that you are a gem and are rather lovely and I enjoyed the small moments of talking to you and watching you work.

And to speak on the matter of the unfortunate event at the tail end, I really wanted to thank you for that as well. As a person of color, these days it’s really REALLY hard to just exist sometimes. So much so that one of the reasons I didn’t speak up about it sooner was because I didn’t think anyone would listen, care or take action. And for that, I am sorry for having little faith in the community there. I think you handled the situation very well and it made me feel very much included knowing that I have another ally who will not stand for any sort of injustice. My respect for you and your business amplified upon seeing how you handled that.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I will be talking about my experience at bootcamp to a fashion class that I TA for. I will rely all that is here and more. I will be telling them to sign up for the Spring but if it’s full to try again in the Fall because I think this is an experience not to be missed! I only hope that they’ll listen because the whole experience is definitely life changing!

To wrap up, thank you again Kathleen! Thank you to Eric as well! You both are outstanding human beings and I look forward to spending time at your factory again when I am able. I will remember everything I learned and the life skills I gained from this experience and then some.

I think that, if anything, this experience forced me to grow up and mature a bit when it comes to my place in this industry and I cant wait to utilize everything I brought home with me in my own work!

Sorry if this was too long! I just thought you would like to hear back from a first timer!

Have a great week! I hope that Spring Pants Bootcamp thrives just as much as Fall Coats!

Best,
Gwen

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