Sue Hausmann - Innovative Approach to Sewing Machine Sales

(Originally published in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #97, January 2022. Written by Rita Farro.)

Sue Hausmann

 Note from Rita Farro:  In 1988, I was a greenhorn Viking sewing machine dealer attending my first national convention. In my mind, Sue Hausmann was an icon because everybody was buzzing about her innovative approach to sewing machine sales. Her classes were packed with dealers eager to learn from her. I waited for two days to get a chair in the room where Sue was explaining her approach to sewing machine demonstrations. Sue said, A customer comes into your store because she wants to buy a sewing machine. You job is to help her do what she wants. Ask questions; find out what kind of sewing she does; pat the chair beside you; invite her to sit in front of the machine. LISTEN to what she’s telling you. You are not doing something TO her, you are doing something FOR her.

Meeting Sue Hausmann and adopting her form of Edutainment was the single best thing I learned in any class or national convention I ever attended. Every dealer wanted to take a little piece of Sue Hausmann back to their store. But here’s the shocker, as I was writing this story, 30+ years later, I realized that when I met her at that first convention, Sue was almost as new to the company as I was.

Sue’s philosophy has always been to Keep America Sewing, and she believes there is no ONE RIGHT WAY to sew. The right way is what works for you and for your project.  It would be impossible to evaluate Sue’s influence on our sewing world. But it’s pretty easy to list a few of her accomplishments:

  • She changed the paradigm of how sewing machines are sold.
  • She simplified the language and format of sewing machine instruction manuals.
  • She was the host and producer of the PBS show, America Sews with Sue Hausmann, which ran for 19 years and was aired in 90 million homes and she produced two additional PBS series.
  • She wrote 30+ America Sews  books.
  • She became a sought-after “A” list speaker at the biggest sewing shows in the country.
  • As an Executive Vice President, she was the first and only woman in senior management of one of the largest sewing machine companies in the world.

Sue is quick to say she didn’t accomplish any of this on her own. None of it would have been possible without her supportive family. Her husband, Herb, became a sewing celebrity in his own rite, traveling around the world with Sue on Husqvarna Viking business. She had a wonderful team of co-workers, and a terrific boss in Bengt Gerborg (longtime President of Husqvarna Viking USA).

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