Rags and riches: The story of Hotchstitch


Michael Brown, Managing Editor

Olivia Simons, a sophomore music major at The Master’s University, sat in the Hotchkiss lounge, staring down at her phone. She had a recital coming up, and still needed one crucial thing in order to perform.

Suddenly, junior Jenna Lui burst through the doors of the dorm lounge, heading towards Simons.

“Give me one second,” Lui said, rushing past Simons and through the double doors leading to the women’s side of Hotchkiss, up to her dorm room.

Less than a minute later, Lui emerged from the double doors she had gone through only seconds earlier, carrying a long, floral dress with her.

“Oh, my gosh!” Simons exclaimed. “It looks beautiful!”

Lui had just tailored the dress Simons would be wearing for her recital. The crucial item that had been missing was now resting in Simons’ hands.

This was not the first garment that Lui tailored for a student. It was not even the first recital dress she had worked on. In the fall of her freshman year, she started a small seamstress business named Hotchstitch.

“I didn’t come to Master’s hoping to start a business,” said Lui. “I actually came to this college hoping to pursue photography. But it didn’t work out that way.”

During the first night of her Week of Welcome, she casually mentioned to her dorm-mates that she had brought her sewing machine to college with her. Later in the evening, she found herself in Hotchkiss lounge, mending shorts for some of her roomates.

“They would approach my little table in the lounge, and ask me to hem their pants; I got one person asking me to stitch holds in some curtains,” said Lui. “I think I had about seven or eight orders that night, and it just kind of kept piling up. I just had wads of cash in a little corner and names with phone numbers so I could call them when it’s done.”

Seeing the market opening in front of her, Lui decided to order business cards a week later, and Hotchstitch was born. She went on to post her business cards around campus and around Santa Clarita.

“It just keeps growing,” said Lui.

Throughout her time running Hotchstitch, Lui has done smaller projects such as fixing buttons, zippers and backpack straps, as well as larger projects, such as tailoring recital dresses, creating original costumes and working with local businesses to create more specific items.

“I get to meet a lot of people that I wouldn’t usually get to meet,” said Lui. “I’ve made a lot of different contacts because of it. I’ve reached different parts of the Santa Clarita Valley that I normally wouldn’t have ever been able to.”

Running a small business has taught Lui things about life that she does not believe she could have learned from textbook.

“I’ve learned a lot of patience, and it has given me an opportunity to serve the people I go to school with in a very unique way,” said Lui. “I haven’t gotten to serve other people my age on this scale ever, and it’s really exciting.”

Anyone wishing to enlist the service of the “seamstress extraordinaire” can contact her at [email protected], or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/hotchstitch.