According to Claudia Rodriguez Biezunski, the gregarious owner of Barrio Logan’s Sew Loka, for a man, having your clothes tailored is more important for your looks than working out.
“You can go to the gym every day, but if your stuff’s not tailored, what’s the point?” said a laughing Claudia. “The gym is for health reasons. Getting your clothes tailored is the Nip/Tuck of real life. It’s like having a plastic surgeon.”
I asked her why she thought most people don’t get their clothes fitted. “It’s an intimidating process to stand in front of someone, and it invades your personal space.”
For the lion’s share of our conversation, Claudia didn’t pontificate about her skill with a needle, or talk up the shop. She described, almost as a novelist would, her customers’ emotional experience of having their clothes assessed. She sounded more like a therapist than a seamstress.
“You should hear how many people body shame themselves. And I’m like, ‘You keep talking like that and I’m going to charge you double.’”
Which wouldn’t be much. Claudia said the most she typically charges someone for alterations is $25.
“It seems f*ed up for me to be like that mechanic who’s like, ‘I can totally take advantage of this situation where you can’t do it, and I’ll charge you more.’”
This empathy is probably a big reason why the small shop, which used to be tucked away in an alley, has seen great success.
Also unusual for a business owner: she’s big on teaching people how to do the work for themselves. The shop offers sewing classes, and when I mentioned my own desire to learn, she lit up even brighter.
“If I didn’t sew… it definitely gives me self-worth, like, maybe I am cool.” That laugh again. “Still kind of questioning that one.”