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OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — An Omaha nonprofit has opened a free workspace for fashion designers.

Designers at the Fashion Institute Midwest’s workshop will have free access to equipment, cutting tables, a private tailoring salon, fashion books, fabric, thread and a commercial button-hole machine, the Omaha World-Herald reported .

The open-room studio includes several tables, dress forms and half a dozen sewing machines. It also has iMacs and MacBook Pros with Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator.

Omaha fashion designer Jenny Pool will manage the workspace and help designers solve design problems and troubleshoot machines.

The institute’s mission is to nurture the talent of aspiring designers and to support the local fashion community.

“The new workshop space enables me to have a ton of resources that have never been available to me,” said Miranda Hanson, a 17-year-old designer from Gretna. “I am still in high school, and my school has no sewing program, therefore all the machines and tools I need, I have to buy.”

The studio will be open to any designer the nonprofit has trained to use the sewing machines. Hours will be modified to fit demand from the community.

The space will also host free workshops and guest speakers to help designers hone their technical skills and develop business skills they’ll need to build profitable companies.

“We provide them with confidence-building classes, with public speaking classes,” said Alyssa Dilts, a board member of Fashion Institute Midwest. “As a board, we give our input as business owners as to what we think they need.”

The Fashion Institute spent about $60,000 in equipment and construction on the space, which needed new flooring, paint and window repair. Board members and their families did much of the renovation work.

Dilts said donations raised during the institute’s annual Fashion Impact Awards will fund the space for at least the next two years.


Information from: Omaha World-Herald,