Sue Hausmann

 
People have often asked me “how did you get this job” or “how do I get your job”. I believe every one of us has been blessed with God given talents and the rest is up to us. Herb and I have said so many times “life changes” and we better be ready to change with it. For me, the Lifeskill of Sewing has held opportunity at every life stage thanks to wonderful people who have taught, mentored and guided me along the way. I believe life is all about caring and sharing with others. I am where I am today because so many people through the years shared their knowledge and guidance with me. My goal is to share with others. I believe our greatest gift in life and our greatest challenge and responsibility is to build people. I call it growing people through sharing and caring.

Growing up my dad was the sewer in our family. As a teenager he had built a glider (an airplane without a motor) out of wood and sewed the fabric “skin” for it on his mother’s treadle sewing machine in the middle of the living room. I remember him talking about 47 yards of fabric. His father, my grandfather, pulled the glider down a boulevard in Park Ridge, Illinois (very near O’Hare airport-there was a lot less traffic in those days!) to fly it. The police stopped and asked what they were doing and left saying, “Be careful”. The year was 1927.

Daddy did our mending and created all the curtains, drapes, bed skirts, etc for our home on that same treadle sewing machine that he had converted into an electric machine by putting a motor on it. My mom always said that she did not sew much because it only went one very fast speed and scared her!

At age 10 two neighbor ladies taught me to sew in 4-H. Once I experienced the joy of the process of sewing and creating for myself and others, I was hooked.  I spend a lot of time at the home of another neighbor with four small children. She sewed everything they all wore by hand until one Christmas her husband gave her a sewing machine. The sewing machine was a cherished household tool in those days and just recently her daughter contacted me and gave me her mother’s first sewing machine—this same machine— for my “collection”.

The first year Herb and I were married my Dad came over with his sewing machine and taught me how to make lined drapes for our living room from fabric Herb’s mom gave us as part of a wedding gift. I remember that day with great joy.

Herb and I were married very young and soon had four small children. Money was tight and I sewed everything we all wore, all our home items and the gifts we gave. The great thing about it was that I loved to sew and create! When Herb bought me a new sewing machine it was the most expensive thing we had bought next to our home and our car. I cried all the way home saying “but we could have had a new tv for the family”.

With my new sewing machine, I began doing alterations for a local dress shop and sewing for people’s homes. This was a great way to supplement the family income while staying at home with our young children. As time passed, in thinking about the future I decided it would be much more fun to teach people how to sew than to sew for them. This was the beginning of it all.

As the children grew, I was able to take a part time job selling Singer sewing machines in the leased department at the Marshall Field’s Department Store near our home in the late 1960s. So now you know I have been working and teaching in the sewing machine industry for over 40 years!

As a part of my responsibility I set up school classrooms and was given the opportunity to teach Beginning and Intermediate Sewing in the Adult Education Program at a Community College and a High School. What fun to see so many people “turned on” to sewing and creating! This was the eye opener for me!

Several years later we moved and I began selling sewing machines at a local store. This store carried all brands and the owner had been in the sewing machine business for over 60 years. He shared knowledge and expertise and his saleslady/teacher shared her ability to create on sewing machines. 

My dear friend Marie Duncan came to work with us and was very instrumental in giving me the confidence to step out and learn and then teach many of the sewing machine arts. I had grown up in a one room school and never had an art class. In my mind I could not do free motion embroidery, appliqué and “sew” much more. Marie patiently taught me many skills. She is now the Creative Coordinator for Husqvarna Viking and continues to amaze me with her ability to create beautiful projects and inspiration for America Sews and the web site. Go to www.myembroideries.com to see the Embroidery Clubs created by Marie.

During the late 1970’s and early 80’s, many people were not sewing. Sewing was moving from a necessity skill to a creative skill. Pioneers in machine quilting began writing books and creating patterns. Marie and I suggested to the store owner that we teach classes. If people were sewing on the beautiful Husqvarna Viking sewing machines we sold, they would want to buy them! 

Soon an opportunity appeared to set up a Husqvarna Viking sewing machine department in a beautiful fabric store and teach classes day and night. The owner was a very talented fabric buyer, displayer, and sewer and the store was busy with people. I jumped at the challenge and organized Sew In’s. These were weekly one hour demonstrations featuring the newest and most fun sewing projects, techniques and more. People brought Sew and Share items every week and many of them then taught the projects they shared growing our Education Program even more. The Class program grew and so did sales. The Education and program at this store grew by leaps and bounds. 

One of the executives from Husqvarna Viking came in one day in 1983 and asked, “What are you doing here that sells so many sewing machines”?  My reply was that we simply show people how much fun sewing when you are sewing on a computer sewing machine and overlock and they buy them. Not only that, they bring their friends to buy them. I realize today that it was not Sewing Education, it was Sewing Edutainment! We did not just teach the people to create, we inspired them to want to and to have fun while they were doing it. The success of this program I call Eduselling meaning that when people see the new sewing machines, accessories, tools, etc and learn how to use them, they buy them.

The “man from Viking” asked if I would consider traveling across the US to train sewing machine stores on how to set up class programs like this. Wow! Travel! It sure sounded glamorous! I remember saying, “This would be my dream job, however, we still have one son at home and he doesn’t need a mother, but he deserves one and I have a husband at home who doesn’t deserve me but needs me”. This was a joke but not really. 

Well, life changes! Less than two years later in 1985 our youngest son left for college, our oldest son and family including our only grandchild at the time, Britta, moved 2000 miles away, my mom and dad who lived next door moved to Arizona and our other children settled in different areas of the country. I thought my life was over, my job done. When I was growing up my career goal was to get married and raise a family. It was Herb who said, “I know you really wanted to take that traveling job with Husqvarna Viking, let’s give it a try.” I believe it takes a really special man to say to his wife, go on the road and travel every week.

The year was 1985. I joined the company as a Marketing Specialist and traveled all over the country teaching how to set up class programs in stores, how to build traffic with demonstrations and why do people want a new sewing machine. Two years later the opportunity of Education Manager was offered and I became a “commuter”, from my home in a Chicago suburb to Cleveland. Our president at the time, Bengt Gerborg, had the vision to grow our Education Department into a vital part of the company and with the help of many, we began a focus on Consumer Motivation. Making consumers aware of how sewing has changed and exposing them to all the fun and creativity. Our first Public Television Series, America Sews began in 1990. People all over the country wrote to thank us for wonderful guests, projects and ideas. Our group of Educators grew and they traveled all over the country to local stores sharing their enthusiasm for sewing. Today America Sews airs in over 90 million households in the US on PBS, the CREATE network, Family Net Cable, and QNNtv.com, and airs in Japan. Over 40 Educator Ambassadors travel into local communities to share programs and events to teach and inspire consumers.

Some years later my title changed to Executive Vice President Consumer Motivation. Many people ask just what my job was. It was all about Changing the World of Sewing! This is certainly not something I did and continue to do alone. Across the country there are many enthusiastic Sewing Educators teaching and developing new ideas and products to make sewing faster, easier and more fun! Every one of them has the passion to share the joy of sewing with others. 

We spent a great deal of our efforts creating and presenting training programs for our dealers and their people and teachers. When I started with the company my dream was to get to every store in the country and teach. It didn’t take long to realize this was not possible! Our goal was to offer programs, events, class materials, and more and to teach people how to use them to inspire their customers to sew. 

Our desire to encourage more young people to enjoy the lifeskill of sewing resulted in the Sew Young, Sew Fun web site and Public Television Series in the late 1990’s. The books, patterns, and website projects continue to be used for sewing classes for young people by stores and the curriculum was taught in schools. 

Our Education program expanded several years ago when Pfaff joined the VSM company. We now have two groups traveling and training across the country. The new programs offered projects and inspiration on sewing, quilting, heirloom, and “sew” much more. I was very thankful to be a part of it all. The second Public Broadcasting television series, America Quilts creatively, was been very well received and evolved into Quilting Arts with new host, Patricia Bolton, Editor of Quilting Arts Magazine beginning in 2008. We felt privileged to be sharing new ways to use technology in the areas of quilting with computer sewing machines and more.
 
In my final years with VSM my job included working with all the product lines in the areas of Consumer Motivation, Education and Training and as an Executive Vice President there were many other challenges and responsibilities. Personal appearances to meet and greet sewers and dealers across the country kept me busy and I was very fortunate to travel often to the home office in Sweden and this enabled me to take the wishes of sewers to our Research and Development departments. Many of the features on today’s high tech computer machines were suggested by teachers, sewing machine retailers and their people, and consumers.The engineers in Sweden have implemented many of the suggestions and ideas in Internet downloadable updates for computer models. When in Sweden I often worked on accessories, written materials, new product development and testing, and more.
 
Herb retired about 10 years ago and has traveled with me helping to change the image of sewing and bringing the joy of sewing to consumers all over the country. At the beginning of 2009 I “semi-retired” in that I no longer work full time for VSM Sewing but continue to present programs and events and share my enthusiasm for sewing on Husqvarna Viking as a free lance Educator. In 2009 and 2010 Herb and I will travel all over the country presenting a number of programs. Go to the Where’s Sue page for more info.

It is exciting to see many new people coming in to sewing today! People who ten years ago would have said, “Sewing? Does anyone do that anymore?” are now saying, “Sewing?  Quilting? I really want to try it!”. 

Herb, my husband of 49 years officially become my “Senior Assistant” and “CEO” (Carry Everything Out) several years ago! It would not be possible for me to do all I do without his help and support and love.  I credit my heavenly Father, my dear parents, and my wonderful husband, Herb, four children and ten grandchildren ages 1-24 with who I am today. Thanks to their encouragement, guidance and support and the support of so many others who have shared with me, I am able continue share the joy of sewing with others. 

My goal is to bring the Inspiration and the Information to encourage everyone to enjoy the lifeskill of sewing!