We had the good fortune of connecting with Claudia Rodriguez-Biezunski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Claudia, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
When I opened my sewing studio, Sew Loka, I knew that I could not fail. Six months before signing my first commercial lease, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl and that transformative experience really changed my life forever. It provided me with an overwhelming amount of drive and self confidence; two attributes that really helped me to overcome my own self doubt. I always knew that I was really good at sewing, but for so many years I did not believe that I could run a business. But after the birth of my daughter something inside me clicked and the fear and self doubt fell to the background. Everyone around me told me I was taking a huge risk by opening a business, but in my head it was not a risk, it was a challenge – and I knew that I could not fail.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
The name of my business is Sew Loka and I am located in beautiful Barrio Logan. I specialize in creative tailoring, custom sewing, cosplay, etc – but with the onset of COVID-19 in March 2020, I was forced to completely shift my business model. The pandemic made it extremely difficult to source specific materials for custom work, and since all events and public gatherings were put on hold, I also had less and less people reaching out to me for tailoring and custom sewing projects. I knew that I needed to try something different in order to keep my business alive, so I took a risk and began designing and creating my own original products. I had always been able to bring everyone else’s dreams to life, but working on my own art and then presenting it to the world was something very new and terrifying for me. What would people think? Am I overstepping my talents? Do I really have what it takes to make this work? The doubts and questions are always there, but this year I have finally been able to push through them and see past my own inadequacies. I also learned that Sew Loka is not just a brand or a business, but it is also a community. There are large groups of people that support my work and want to see me succeed; and that same community has been keeping me afloat during the COVID-19 crisis of 2020. They purchase my products, promote me on social media and provide me with wisdom and advice. Sew Loka will always be indebted to Barrio Logan and my mission going forward is to make sure that my community is solid and that my neighborhood is prospering.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I may be a little bit biased, but I truly believe that all of the coolest places in San Diego are located in Barrio Logan. When visiting Barrio Logan for the first time, you must start at the source and tour the historic national landmark that is Chicano Park. Chicano Park is a 32,000 square meter park located beneath the San Diego-Coronado Bridge in Barrio Logan and it is covered from wall to wall with beautiful, chicano-themed murals. After educating yourself about Barrio Logan’s roots, you should then walk the block and explore the many boutiques, restaurants, breweries and artist’s studios that reside along Logan Avenue. Grab a fish taco from Salud or a Mexican style hot dog from Barrio Dogg; then wash it down with Chiquitin Pale Ale from Border X Brewing. Shop the block and visit beautiful stores like Simon Limon, Casa Xovi and Pin Up Style and Boutique and then check out local artists like Mary Jhun and Churroface. I am not exaggerating when I say that you can literally spend an entire week in Barrio Logan and still not be bored – but definitely don’t take my word for it …come and see for yourself =)
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate this shoutout to all of the strong women in my family. My mom, grandmother, sisters and cousins have all played a major role in my success. I watched my mom and grandmother hustle and work hard their entire lives and this provided me with the drive and determination necessary to keep my business going even through the harshest of times. My sisters are my biggest supporters and I know they will be there for me when nobody else will and that provides me with an enormous amount of hope and self confidence. I would also like to give a huge shoutout to my husband, Manny, and my daughter, Rose. Our tiny family is the source of all my motivation and grit. We all hold each other accountable and we all want the best for ourselves and for the business. I am forever grateful for my family and my community.
Vito Di Stefano