‘Fairy bra-mother’ building a global business

Beverly Johnson’s bra-making classes drawing in designers and entrepreneurs from all over

Lisa Grace Marr

Beverly Johnson's one-week courses on making bras, swimwear, or corsets are often booked well in advance.

Beverly Johnson’s one-week courses on making bras, swimwear, or corsets are often booked well in advance.

It would be safe to say Beverly Johnson is something of a boob master.

What started out as a way to help women find those materials has grown into an empire with how-to books, classes including “boob” camps, travelling around the world and last fall, a venture into the virtual world on Craftsy.com — an online educational craft course site.

Johnson was asked to come to Denver by the Craftsy folks to shoot a basic bra-making class on Craftsy. Customers pay to download the class on their computers and, as an option, can also purchase online Bra-makers’ own Craftsy starter kit.

The past few months have been a whirlwind for Johnson, fielding perennial requests to travel to Taiwan, Sweden and Saskatchewan for annual sewing conferences, while hosting full classes of students and hordes of online shoppers.

“People are saying sewing is dead, I don’t know where they get their information from,” says Johnson.

Her classes are often booked well in advance, with avid hobby seamstresses, high-end fashion designers and entrepreneurs coming from all over to take a one-week course on making bras, swimwear, or corsets.

Beverly Johnson inspecting on of her students  latest creations.

Beverly Johnson inspecting on of her students latest creations.

Johnson said the success of her business is due to the fact fashion schools no longer teach bra-making or corsets, or how to fit them properly.

“This is the only place in Canada where you can go to learn this.”

It’s why she’s so upset with the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. In 2014, it informed her she could no longer run her nine-week programs. A new regulation stipulated that any business offering more than 40 hours of instruction was required to be registered as a private career college.

Johnson, a self-described “fairy bra-mother,” cancelled her longer courses and instead holds short skill-specific classes. The classroom is just behind her wholesale and retail store, which also sells globally.

Johnson said there is great opportunity in Canada to rebuild the apparel industry.

“We have such talent in Canada for sewing, pattern-making and design,” she said. “There is absolutely no need to go outside this country for any of that knowledge.”

Special to The Spectator

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