At HOLA! USA, we love a good old success story – especially if it involves a Latina entrepreneur like Mimi G Ford, who went from being a single mother living on the streets of Los Angeles to building a sewing empire. You may already be familiar with Mimi G’s work as she has become one of the most influential sewing teachers who currently holds more than 300,000 Instagram followers. She’s the founder of the fashion blog Mimi G Style in addition to her YouTube channel, and she’s the mastermind behind the Sew It Academy – a series of easy yet effective courses that teach fashion and style enthusiasts how to design and sew.
But Mimi’s impressive success didn’t occur overnight. The Latina entrepreneur had a rough beginning that marked abuse and homelessness. “I was a teen runaway. I lived in Chicago with my mom and her side of the family. There was sexual abuse that happened from my uncle and my grandfather. Then my mom was in a really abusive relationship,” she tells HOLA! USA. “Things were just not good at home, so I ended up leaving home. I came to California.”
“I literally bounced around from wherever I could stay. Then unfortunately, that became harder and harder to do,” she says. “I was squatting in an apartment building that was going to be closed down, not far from Los Angeles City College. That‘s where I was homeless the first time, with my oldest daughter.”
Despite the hardships and family torments, which also include a traumatic first marriage, Mimi‘s dark years ultimately made her stronger and led her to where she is today. Her story is nothing but growth, determination and inspiration.
The DIY fashion mogul got her start in sewing at the age of 12 thanks to her aunt who was a seamstress in Puerto Rico. “During the summers, when mommy sent me there to visit my dad, I would spend my summers with her. My dad realized that I really had an interest, and so he bought me a sewing machine,” she shares. “I started taking apart my clothes, tracing around the shapes, sewing them back together, which was how I taught myself construction, which at the time I didn’t realize I was doing. But looking back I’m like, ‘Wow, that was pretty clever.’”
The aspiring seamstress was heavily encouraged by her mom to continue sewing, but had to put her creativity on a pause for a long time. “You can‘t really sew when you’re homeless,” she states.
Mimi’s rise to success began when she returned to blogging in 2012. Although she started blogging in 2008, she wasn’t consistent until four years later. “The reason I started it [blog] was because I was working full time,” she says. “I was working in film and production. It‘s really long hours, so I was commuting to work, commuting to home. I was having a hard time making ends meet. I just found myself in a really dark place. I decided that I wanted to go back to sewing, to help me get through a lot of issues that I didn’t even know that I had, or was working with. Sewing was really therapeutic for me.”
The aspiring blogger knew she was onto something after she made a skirt for herself, posted it on her blog and woke up to a large number of requests despite pricing it for a high amount. “I posted on the blog that I was going to take orders for the next 24 hours, and that was it. I priced it really high at $250 or something like that. I thought, ‘Nobody‘s going to pay me that much money for this skirt,’” Mimi explains. “People went nuts for the skirt.” She wasn’t sold on the idea of sewing for hire – that was until she began struggling financially.
“Then on top of it I said, ‘Don‘t expect to get the skirt any time before four to six weeks.’ I thought for sure this was going to be maybe one or two people,” she recalls. “I put the PayPal button up and went to bed. I woke up the next morning to thousands of dollars in my PayPal account. I had over 40 orders!”
Since her humble beginnings, the mother of four, who is happily married to her husband, continues to grow her fashion DIY empire, being an inspiration for anyone but more so for women of color. “For me, in the sewing and DIY world, there was no representation of that. It was very white, very Caucasian,” she shares. “Every pattern in every catalog, in every fabric store, in every sewing magazine or DIY magazine, there was no influence for the black and brown community.”
Mimi goes on to reveal: “I thought that was crazy. When I started my live streams with Simplicity, I was the very first blogger, and then blogger of color to ever be licensed by a major pattern company. For me, it made a huge difference because the very first thing that I heard from people was, ‘I can‘t believe that I’m going through this catalog, and I see somebody that looks like me.’ I think that is really what propels me.”