When you are passionate about one thing, you can do it for as long as you wish. It would never feel monotonous or tiring even after hours of performing the same task. For Makayla Wray, tailoring is her passion and she works for an upmarket designer but on three days every week, she heads off to the streets after work to be the seamstress.
This 29-year-old professional tailor from East Village has shown what it is like to have a strong interest in one particular field and how it can help us grow!
Makayla Wray wakes up and heads towards Chinatown where she works for a high-end designer. But that’s not how all her days look like. After 5:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, this talented woman works as a street seamstress until its dark.
Wray has a cart that is “tailored” for the work she does! She sets it up at the corner of East Houston and Mulberry streets. This seamstress continues mending people’s clothes and accepting their requests for customization of their outfits.
“In the morning I make runway clothes, then I come in at night to hem the little guys,” she revealed during an interview.
Wray has impressed her customers with her skills and the way she completes her tasks. “People say to me, ‘You’re keeping [the spirit of] New York alive,” she shared.
She alters the clothes of her customers according to their requirements and it’s almost a quick process. This seamstress hands over the finalized fitted garments back to their owner almost on the spot.
Her special cart that is equipped with all the essentials required for tailoring is actually a result of a deal that she made with her old boss, Byron Kaplan.
She used to work at the mobile coffee shop in 2018 for her morning shift and then, she added some amount to her daily earning by performing little alterations on costumes at the TV and movie sets. But this part of the day that involved sewing brought her satisfaction!
“Byron used to say, ‘You should work full days,’ and I told him, ‘If you put a sewing machine on this cart I could.’ It was kind of a joke,” she revealed.
Due to the pandemic, her freelancing opportunities shrunk and so, she decided to make a deal with Kaplan and use that cart for something unique.
“I had to weld an ironing board onto it and make a clothing rack. I was originally going to park it [one block west] under the Calvin Klein ad to create a contrast between me and the fast-fashion billboards. But there’s not as much foot traffic there,” she shared.
Wray spends three evenings every week on being a street seamstress and that’s brilliant! After the customers explain their needs with the outfit, she sends them to a nearby bar Botanica to grab a drink while she works her magic with threads on their clothes.
If any of the tasks turn out to be time-consuming, she asks the person to take them the next day. She charges $2 for fixing a button, $15 for a hem, and $60 for a transformation of a piece of clothing into something entirely different.
“I use every inch of material that I can, and I’ll turn scraps into teddy bears. Some guy wanted me to repair Army pants that had a bunch of holes and tears. The pants were his grandfather’s in the war, and his dad also wore them and passed them down,” said Wray.
She loves to work on such projects that reflect family love. “I’m happy I got to save something from being in a box in a storage unit.”