Erin is a fellow University of Wisconsin-Stout alum & I've been following her journey + living vicariously through her business endeavors ever since I found out about her tailoring services based in NYC.
Her client list is long & includes a slew of celebrities, stores + brand names. Read on to hear more about her story & what she's most excited about next.
7B tailors Thao Huynh, Erin Hogan-Braker, and Dominique Jernigan about to take on Aspen, Colorado
What kind of kid were you growing up?
I was extremely shy until middle school. I only had one friend I would slumber party with until the 5th grade (shout out to Kelly McConnell! OG BFF!) .
How did that affect your path towards working in the fashion industry?
I think being a shy kid early on allows me to feel comfortable being silent in a room filled with people. My team and I are known for our ability to act appropriately and allow stylists to work with their clients about fashion choices. No cares if the tailor likes the shoes. We are there to make sure those pants have a perfect break on top of those Louboutin’s, not pick them out.
If your story could fit into a 30 second commercial, how would it unfold?
It would be a teaser for a new pilot episode about a woman moving back to her small town after 10 years in the big city. Hopefully it goes in the Rom-Com direction instead of Horror.
What ultimately made you decide to do the lovely thing you do?
My mom, Julie Hogan, is a children’s sewing teacher and Bernina employee at Ann Silva’s Bernina Sewing Center in Albuquerque, NM. I grew up being able to use her sewing machines, but I did not necessarily know how to sew. I was winging it. I always wanted to understand why a Haute Couture garment has value, and what makes it so expensive. By undergoing a decade of apprenticeships under Master craftsmen, I now know – it comes from golden hands touching the garment in every step of the process. From the designers sketch, patternmakers drape, tailors stitch and press human hands develop the fabric from concept to finish. It takes decades to develop hands that understand how to pull the inspiration from the sketch. And when a team of Masters creates a one of a kind garment, the fabric is touched and molded in such specific way (that is both expressive and technical) a machine cannot match the quality.
Who’s positively influenced your path the most?
My mentor, Nelson Arriaga, will always be my biggest positive influence. Almost everyday when working, I use a sewing technique Nelson taught me. He allowed me to witness his construction of men’s custom suiting from start to finish. I sat next to his sewing machine for years, witnessing that touch of golden hands.
Ultimately, Nelson was an incredible friend and allowed me to witness his life. He was the kindest person I have ever met. I have seen Nelson give his last dime to those more in need, donate his sewing talent to younger designers he believed in, always make time for my constant questions, and show me what it would be like as a senior citizen participating in NYC’s fashion industry as a tailor – a true consideration for this very physical job. I am forever grateful for the friendship he extended to me. He passed away a few years ago, but I still ask his advice and use his example to guide my business.
Erin Hogan-Braker with Nelson Arriaga circa 2008
You’ve got a pretty incredible story of how you ended up in New York. How did that go down?
Not that incredible at all. Like many University of Wisconsin-Stout students, I wandered there looking for an “internship” and slept on a friend’s sofa until I found a waitress job and someone willing to let me work for free in the fashion industry.
Favorite part about working for yourself?
My favorite part is actually the understanding that working for yourself is not for everyone. I use to think, “of course everyone wants to be there own boss!” But, the more I am able to collaborate with all different types of employment structures (from my fellow freelancers, corporate clients, and all the vendors in between) I see that what is exhilarating for one person, is suffocating for another.
I think a good portion of this tolerance for different types of work structures comes from our temperaments. I am a big believer that our personalities are a significant factor defining us as individuals. Personalities can be as simple as the “Big 5 traits” or as endless as Carl Jung’s exploration into Depth Psychology. Nature, nurture, and temperament guide many choices we gravitate towards.
Working for myself has shown me that though I love not knowing where my next dollar comes from. For other people, this might fill them with anxiety, a consistent day job would make more sense. I think that the diversity of our inclinations is fascinating – we need all types. One person’s dream freelance gig is another person’s hell. Long story short, we are all inclined to do different things, different ways, for a variety of different reasons. I am grateful for a job that exposes me to many ways of living. It works for me.
7B tailors Sarah Lathrop & Erin Hogan-Braker working in the Brooklyn shop on a piece for Victoria's Se