Mimi G
Credit: Mimi G

“Buy It, Make It, Mix It, Rock It!” is the mantra Mimi G lives by. The do-it-yourself expert has grown a strong following and she now has her own collection of patterns and an online school. The Puerto Rican blogger recently made an appearance on Project Runway Junior as a mentor and design consultant. We were able to sit and talk with Mimi G about her rise as a sewlebrity.

How did you get started in this industry?

Mimi G: About four years ago, I started my blog as a hobby because I was working a 9-5 job and I hated it. I was a single mom, I was raising my kids and I was broke— I needed help. I just felt like I was trapped and sewing was always my thing. I created the blog as a way to journal. After the first year, I noticed that people were really interested in what I was doing because a lot of people sew, tons of DIY but most of it is crafty like pillows and aprons. If I couldn't wear it I didn't make it so I started focusing on clothes. I could see something on the runway and knock it off. I started using commercial patterns to teach people and people were really interested. After that first year, it was a massive growth in traffic. This is year four and now we do 12 million page views a year.

Did you start off on YouTube or did you begin writing on a blog?

MG: I started blogging with pictures. I had made this skirt for myself, which was like Oscar de la Renta— this big maxi skirt with a beautiful bow. I posted it on the blog and people went crazy like, “OMG, can I buy it?” I said, “No, I sew for me,” but it was near Christmas and I was really broke and my daughter needed some stuff for school so I decided to sell the skirts for 24 hours. I posted it on the blog and I woke up the next morning with thousands of dollars on my PayPal account and I was like, “Oh crap, how am I supposed to sew all these skirts?” I waited to the last minute to sew and I was sitting in my sewing room crying with all these orders. After I was done, I decided I was never doing that again but then I thought, “ What if I make a video to teach them how to make it?” and that was my first video and it's my still my most popular tutorial. That was the beginning of it. That was the point I realized that I could monetize.

Tell us more about your online school.

MG: I started The Sew It Academy because I wanted to expand the business. This was a way for me to provide actual learning in a structured format. The academy is a monthly subscription that you enroll in as a student. Every month you learn a new course. We start from the beginning, like the first class is me taking the sewing machine out of the box, because people have never sewn in their lives. Every month, we build on the class before. Eventually, we start sewing garments and we'll do tailoring. Anyone could login at anytime— the whole point is for people to do it at their own pace.

How do you feel that your Latina roots have tied into your love for sewing?

MG: I think it's because I grew up like that. In Puerto Rico, my aunts are all seamstresses and everybody sews. If you didn't sew, something was wrong. When I was little I would sit with my aunt and that kind of became my thing. In the Latino culture, sewing is something known.

What's the importance of sewing?

MG: Just learning general tailoring and alteration tips could make a huge difference. It's not expensive. People think sewing is expensive but you could get a sewing machine for $150 and you can teach yourself how to do very basic things to help build on your wardrobe. I know that a lot of the times when I shop for something I can't find it and I know what I'm looking for so I have the option of going home and making it.

People often have the misconception that sewing is a lot of work, what would you tell them?

MG: I think that's why my popularity has grown so quick and so big because I think I show people how to do things in a real easy-to-understand way. I went to a fashion school and the first pattern making class that I attended, the teacher kept going on about these technical terms. I had taught myself to sew in a very easy-to-understand basic lingo so the girls around would be like “how did you do that?” That's what prompted me to be able to do the videos. It's not like you have to start by creating an entire garment, you could start with smaller projects.

What was your favorite piece you've ever made?

MG: A knockoff of a Chanel jacket. I couldn't afford it [jacket] but I could buy the fabric and I could make one. It took 32 hours of hand sewing for me to make that jacket.