Sonia and I were introduced to each other at a preparatory session held for speakers of the Fair Fashion, Women and Creativity event. Our topics for the event were similar, focusing on the practical importance of caring for daily clothes, DIY sewing and zerowaste, and as such, we connected really well. We have a common passion to shift from the current concept of fashion which is fast with no real personal touch or customized style.
We soon found ourselves sharing our professional stories and I was very intrigued to hear about Sonia's career switch from a world of medicine to full time couture! I knew I had hit a story that had to be shared, as many of us are afraid to make that jump into a space of unknowns and uncertainties even though our hearts yearn for this.
Read on to discover how Sonia allowed her love of working with her hands to lead her to creating customized outfits for individuals with sizes and needs not readily met in mainstream fashion.
Once a hobby, now my work!
I once worked as a physiatrist (a medical doctor specialized in physical medicine and rehabilitation) and today, I am a full time tailor and dressmaker. After 10 years of working as physiatrist, I decided to make a change because I felt my initial profession was unfulfilling and not well suited to me.
As a child, I loved drawing, craft and needlework. I learned to sew from a young age and also loved making clothes. It, however, never occurred to me that this was something that could be done as a profession. After middle school, I found it hard to choose my studies. I visited numerous open days, from Spanish language and culture to physics and from pharmaceutical sciences to industrial design. The idea of industrial designs appealed to me, yet somehow, I enrolled for medical studies.
My studies were not a problem, however, working as a doctor was never easy. As a young doctor I always felt unsure. Later on, there were several changes in the medical system: more rules and regulations and less autonomy which caused frustration and a real sense of dissatisfaction.
Furthermore, my daily work meant I spent a considerable amount of time speaking to people and got to do little to nothing with my hands. I found that I missed working with my hands and decided to take up sewing again.
To improve my sewing, I enrolled in a course at the Rotterdamse Snijschool. I completely stopped working as a doctor so as to focus on my sewing lessons.
Helping people with my Hands
I soon started sewing for other people and discovered that a lot of people struggle with their clothing for various reasons. Being petit myself, I know from personal experience the frustrations associated with shopping and not finding what you are looking for. I found I could assist people who do not have average sizes or have physical limitations that require specific add-ons to their clothing to make daily life comfortable and stylish. By using my hands, I am able to reduce some of these difficulties and provide people of various sizes, ages or tastes with customized styles and outfits, suitable for their specific needs.
I soon discovered the concepts and practices of fair fashion, slow fashion and sustainability.
These topics made complete sense to me as I saw clearly for the first time how to combine technology, creativity and the use of my hands to help people in my own unique way.
In october 2017, I started my company: Sonia Angulo couture. My main product is tailored clothing for ladies. Each of my creations is unique, designed and made to suit an individual customer's tastes and body.
Fusing in the Past
While working as a physiatrist, I noticed that a lot of people with disabilities encounter problems with clothing. Here my previous career serves in enabling me to quickly understand the nature and the consequences of a given disability. I am able to connect quite well with these individuals and offer them adapted clothing.
Often, the problems with their clothes aren't difficult to solve with basic sewing skills. However, not many people have these skills anymore. So this has become the focus of my workshops. I offer small DIY and easy projects as a way to encourage the art of sewing. Participants of these workshops, soon discover the practical benefits and joy it brings.
In my current work, I try to make people aware of the process of cloth making. I promote the use of sustainably produced fabrics and encourage the prolonged use of them which can be achieved in a number of ways. These include the application of large seam allowances so that a garment can be readily adjusted if and when the owner requires this. Repairing garments or repurposing into another garment or even for another item, such as a bag, are also great ways of extending the life of fabrics. These practical tips and tricks are part of my interactive DIY workshops.
Sonia Angulo couture is still at her infancy and growing, with several business related activities still a challenge for me, I'm however incredible happy I made the transition. I feel absolutely free to be doing what I love doing and immensely grateful to be able to help others. And that's what matters!
If you live in Rotterdam Schiebroek, you can readily meet Sonia at the local library (Peppelweg 87a), where she is the sewing coach, assisting and responding to sewing queries on Thursdays, 2pm - 4pm.
Sonia's next talk is about Haute Couture at SBK Zuidplas on the 16th of January 2019.