New sewing lounge in Medina combines owner’s love of fashion with needle and thread
‘It is just like a gym membership, where you use the gym equipment at your schedule for a monthly fee. A sewing lounge works the same, but with sewing equipment and machines.’ – Donna Bryant
MEDINA – Donna Bryant may have three PhDs, but the thing which makes her happiest is a needle and thread.
Bryant, the former Donna Piedmont of Middleport, has retired from her high profile professions to indulge in her first love – sewing.
She recently set up shop at 422 Main St., former site of Creekside Floral. Her new business – The Atelier – is a unique concept called a sewing lounge. She says it’s like bringing a little bit of Paris to Medina.
Bryant’s love for fashion and sewing comes from her mother Irene, who was a pattern drafter at the former Newell Shirt Factory in Medina. She is dedicating The Atelier to her mother.
She originally wanted to open her sewing lounge in the Newell building, she said.
Bryant graduated from Royalton-Hartland High School, Buffalo State College and the University of Buffalo. She has PhDs in psychology, metaphysics and divinity with interfaith ministries. She studied at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City and the exclusive Worcheska School of Custom Dressmaking in Buffalo.
“You need to keep learning,” she said.
As an accomplished seamstress, she has had clients for 45 years. She said there’s a lot more to clothing than people think.
Her extensive background in design and dressmaking included developing the fashion design and interior decorating program at BOCES Vocational Center, from which she retired after 30 years. She was also an adjunct professor at Genesee Community College for 15 years.
Bryant said sewing lounges currently exist only in big cities.
She explained the concept, saying a sewing lounge is a place with a variety of sewing machines, steaming and pressing equipment, cutting tables, dress forms and a photography station.
“It is just like a gym membership, where you use the gym equipment at your schedule for a monthly fee,” she said. “A sewing lounge works the same, but with sewing equipment and machines.”
A membership costs $35 for three months, and Bryant will be at her store from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Monday and Tuesday to accept registrations. People may also register by calling (716) 628-0568.
Her official opening is scheduled for Sept. 11.
Member work on their own projects which they bring in. Some assistance will be available.
Benefits of buying a membership are 10 percent off all sewing classes; sharing ideas and meeting others with similar interests; a wide variety of machines and equipment available for use; an atmosphere with limited distractions; and a creative environment and a place to participate in special events.
Bryant also said The Atelier is like a modern day Starbucks, with coffee and tea available – but at no charge.
The sewing lounge is not the time for people wanting to learn to sew – that can be accomplished through special sewing classes, Bryant said.
A variety of classes will be offered, including apparel construction, altered couture and handbags. Professional dressmaking classes will include flat pattern dressmaking, draping for dressmaking and pattern drafting. Sewing for the Home will teach pillows, table setting, slip covers, curtains and more.
Knitters of any level are welcome to join a knitters’ circle from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday evenings. They may bring their own projects and refreshments will be provided.
There will also be a quilting class and a two-hour workshop to become familiar with your own machine.
A class called Project Runway (one for adults and one for teenagers) runs for 20 weeks and will end in a fashion show in May. Projects will be judged by professionals, Bryant said.
Because of Orleans County’s connection to Macy’s famed Santa Claus, Charles W. Howard, Bryant plans to make Santa suits. She is also expecting to unveil five lines of her own clothing.
Bryant and her husband Dr. Clark Bryant currently live in Medina. She has a daughter, Janelle Harvey, who is a home economics teacher at Wilson, and a son, Wesley Salen, who lives in South Carolina.