BIZ CRUSH: 7th Bone Tailoring


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 Secret cowgirl project

Most challenging thing about working for yourself?

I have to figure out all the details on my own. If I want a 401K, I have to research it and set it up. I can’t just enroll in existing systems.

How do you get your creative juices flowing?

I travel a lot between New York, LA, New Mexico, and the Midwest. Seeing the physical landscape change and hanging out in a variety of population sizes is very inspiring, going from population 16,000 to 16 million is an instant way to jolt my brain.

If you could be a fly on the wall to anyone’s creative space {dead or alive} who would it be?

My mentor, Nelson Arriaga. I would treasure the opportunity to sit with him in the Bronx again at his 176 Street & Jerome Avenue basement tailoring shop again. I would love to be able to ask him sewing and life questions based on my current experience, not my starry eyed “oh my this is a big city I’m going to be a ____” brain from when I was 25. I would love relate to Nelson as an older adult, I’m so curious what he would be sewing – his tailoring passion was rooted in historical fashion with a timeless quality.

Talk about a failure you’ve learned from.

You’re going to have to read “Forward” Stout's fashion magazine to hear about that one, reporter Summer Lahti just interviewed me about that. It’s too painful to revisit here...

What’s one of your proudest accomplishments in business?

My proudest accomplishment is helping to build a network of tailors and administrative team who truly support each other on and off the job. Dream team is for real; we all put a lot of effort into lifting each other up. The relationships that emerge from our network take on lives of their own, and because everyone is pretty much a technical nerd and/or artists I think some great collaborations are in the future.

Up-cycled clutch made from denim scraps- DIY with Bernina

What do you wish you knew when you first started that you know now?

That it’s not “normal” for a business or an individual to have debt, despite what the sneaky banking and credit card marketing machines tells us. Cash is king. I’m not saying to never have debt – just pay it back asap.

How did you land on the name “7th Bone”?

My mentor, Nelson, use to always say, “We fit from the 7th Bone”. He meant your 7th vertebrae in the spine. To start a fitting, we stand behind the client and evaluate their overall skeletal frame, starting from there.

How did your partnership with Bernina come about?

My mama, Julie Hogan, is a long-time children’s sewing teacher and I’m a Bernina die-hard – I have Valentine’s I made to my sewing machines in the third grade. I reached out to their Headquarters and it was a natural fit.

What has been your favorite project to date & how did it come to fruition?

I loved our Custom Creation project with Victoria’s Secret, designed by epic Stylist Elizabeth Sulcer. Once a year we create pieces based on Elizabeth’s vision. This year it was a cowgirl theme shot in Aspen, Colorado. We made lace chaps, tutus, prairie skirts, and tons of epic ranch dream girl pieces. We only get about two weeks to make 20+ pieces, it’s a fun crunch time.

What’s next / What are you most excited about?

I am pumped to be in LA with the 7B Hollywood team for the 2018 awards season! My life goal is to do a men’s Oscar tux.

7B Tailors Erin Hogan-Braker, Dominique Jernigan, and Mary Carney on-set with Victoria's Secret in 2014

Time of the day you are most productive:

1st cup of coffee

The app you couldn’t live without:

Evernote

Social media outlet you love most:

Instagram

Favorite account to follow on this outlet:

@JenniferJoyceDesign

Favorite internet radio station at the moment:

Anything Christmas – It’s about that time

Go to piece in your wardrobe:

Levi’s jeans, tailored by me for me

Favorite Netflix binge:

Lately it is the live action “Beauty and the Beast” starring Emma Watson. It took 12,000 hours to make the iconic yellow dress, and I can see why. I am very into that tiered scalloped hem – no room for errors in a precise symmetrical hem like that.

Weirdest piece of equipment you use:

Tin foil – Tommy Hilfiger, the man himself, taught me a great new use for this kitchen staple. This lesson was given to me in his kitchen, his tin foil.

Coolest place you’ve been thanks to work:

I was in Rome, Italy the summer of 2014, shooting the annual Victoria’s Secret Holiday commercial with director Michael Bay. We shot at Cinecittà Studios where Ben Hur and La Dolce Vita were filmed. It was pretty amazing to walk along same sets decked out with historical Roman ruins used for those films. My favorite part was the giant wheel of parmasian cheese the crew ate over the course of 3 days. I also loved how the Italian crew would slowly stroll to set up shots, while our American crew would run like maniacs. Working in different countries alongside different crews has been a fun way to compare and contrast cultural work styles.

Favorite designer:

Alexandre Plokhov, one of the best menswear designers on the planet. I was an intern for his then cult label “Cloak” and continued to be a fan through his work at Helmut Lang. I love absolute perfectionists. He is an insane craftsmen with a background in Patternmaking and Tailoring. His menswear pocket proportions are perfect – which is the ultimate understated goal in menswear.

Best thing about NYC:

You never know whom you are going to meet. I’ve definitely got an ambitious personality, and it’s always nice to be around a bunch of hustlers.

See more from 7th Bone & Erin here: Online | Instagram | Facebook

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