Movers and Makers: Portland Apparel Lab hopes to be a central hub for designers

Movers and Makers: The Portland Apparel Lab

PORTLAND, Ore. -- New York has the famous garment district. In Portland young designers hoping to launch their own business have, well, not much.

“We really lack a central place to go to find fabric, buttons, labels, manufacturing or pattern making,” said Dawn Moothart.

Moothart is hoping to remedy that by opening the Portland Apparel Lab, or PAL for short.

It’s a shared makers space loaded with expensive equipment like a digital pattern maker, a buttonhole machine and an impressive variety of sewing machines, tools and resources.

PHOTOS: Portland Apparel Lab

You would have to drop between $30,000 and $40,000 to buy all of it on your own, something Moothart says doesn’t make sense when you are just starting out.

"It doesn’t pencil in to put that kind of money into something you are only going to use a couple hours a day, if that," Moothart said.

Instead, designers or even recreational sewers can pay a membership fee to use the equipment. They will also find something else at PAL: people willing to share their expertise.

Susan Stearns is the founder and designer for Rain Baby Gear, a Portland start-up that makes colorful waterproof baby blankets and hats. Stearns says that kind of support is invaluable,

“When you are a small business owner you've got to be an expert in everything right away and that's a real challenge," Stearns said.

The ultimate goal is to allow designers and their brands to grow in Portland instead of having to move to a larger city to find what they need. Moothart sees PAL as a good starting point, a common thread for a creative community.


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