By Matthew Hose
Last year, Lynne Gallagher’s Clement Street clothing design studio Wee Scotty faced a rent increase and had to close up shop in the Inner Richmond.
But now Gallagher says her company, which specializes in teaching sewing and fashion design to children, has been “welcomed with open arms” to its new home on the corner of Taraval Street and 29th Avenue in the Parkside.
“It’s great,” Gallagher says. “We feel like we’re really part of a close-knit community. Everyone who has come in has said: ‘We’re so glad you’re here.’”
Gallagher opened the doors to Wee Scotty’s new location in a corner building at 1900 Taraval St. in December 2019, lining the walls with Brother sewing machines, countless spools of thread and fabrics of all stripes and colors.
The change of locale has allowed her to expand the business’s offerings, bringing new one-time sewing classes for adults on evenings and weekends and allowing for individuals to book studio space for independent work.
“Living in San Francisco, there’s limited space, and oftentimes people don’t have space in their own home for this type of work, so they can come in and use our equipment,” Gallagher said.
But the core focus of Wee Scotty is the kids.
Wee Scotty offers a number of programs for young people of all ages. Those include its popular summer camps, like Project Junior Runway, in which students design clothing and then showcase their designs at an annual fashion show.
It also includes unique programs, like Rip and Recycle, where kids bring in an old item of clothing that does not fit anymore, then reuse the fabric to create something new.
“Kids grow,” Gallagher says. “They have their favorite T-shirt that their dad got them in New York with the taxi cab on it, and they want to keep it in their lives. So they can recycle these things, cut them up and make them into something new.”
Adelaide Bell, a graphic designer at Wee Scotty, remarked on the empowerment kids feel after going through these classes.
“Instead of kids coming in and making a tote bag or something, they design their own outfit,” Bell said. “They have created that outfit and then they end up wearing it at the end of the session, which is really awesome for a kid.”
On a recent Friday afternoon, Gallagher welcomed students to the second session of her eight-week class “wearable art,” which allows kids to design a piece that includes an extra artistic dimension.
Natalia Mohanty, 8, was spending her class time making a shirt with flamingos on it and a pair of pink pants accented with white dots.
“I like when you get to choose what you want to make and you get to actually create it,” Mohanty said. “It’s just fun.”
Aisling Graham, 8, who was taking the class with her 6-year-old sister Aoife, decided she wanted to make a green skirt that she could wear for St. Patrick’s Day.
“We have the power to create whatever we want,” Graham said.
Gallagher said she is constantly inspired by how quickly kids learn the skills and develop a passion for design and fashion.
“They’re very creative,” she said. “They’re like sponges: you show them something, and they listen intently, and they just do. Same as learning piano or an instrument; this is their instrument. And the creative process and what they get out of it in the end is a huge amount of self-confidence.”
All of Gallagher’s classes have a wide mix of age groups, which she said fosters a sense of leadership among the older kids and helps the first-timers get extra attention.
“We all know who we need to help, and it helps the older student who knows a little more to reinforce their learning skills. They become the expert,” she said.
Always intent on showing her students how they can make a career out of what they learn in her classes, Gallagher often takes her students on field trips to the San Francisco Dungeon, the Fisherman’s Wharf attraction for which she was a costume designer.
Gallagher moved to San Francisco in 1991 after making her name in costume design for rock bands like The Rolling Stones, Coldplay and Metallica. Shortly after her move, she started working at a business called The Sewing Workshop on 21st Avenue and Balboa Street in the Richmond District. Around the same time, she saw her own daughter develop an interest in sewing and fashion. She asked why The Sewing Workshop wasn’t doing programs for kids.
“We started doing summer programs there, and (there was) a tremendous response. I found a passion for working with the kids.”
Gallagher opened Wee Scotty in 1999 in Mill Valley. She spent two years there, then brought the business to Pacific Heights for another 13 years before moving to the Richmond.
For more information, visit http://www.weescotty.com.
RichmondSunsetNews.com is sponsored in part by:
Click on graphic for more information.