Joi Mahon — “That Girl” — Successful Entrepreneur

(Originally published November 2014, Inspired to Sew. Written by Rita Farro.)



aaa2014-08-26-09.49Joi Mahon is one of the most successful young sewing entrepreneurs in the country.  Her fitting classes and sewing camps are hot tickets wherever she goes.  She has made a splash with her Craftsy classes, has a new book hot off the press and a deal with McCall patterns.   So — who is Joi Mahon?  And what inspires her to sew?

As a child, Joi hand sewed doll clothes and crafts.  In the 6th grade, she joined 4-H and had her first sewing class.  It all really clicked and made sense to her.  She took sewing every year in school and was “that girl” — off by herself, sewing advanced projects while everyone else struggled with square pillows.

During high school, she apprenticed for a tailor which was a life-changing opportunity.  Not only did she learn to fit all types of bodies — men, women, children, big, small, young, old — she did custom sewing for brides, men’s fine tailoring and ladies alterations.  Joi also learned all aspects of running a business.

Joi’s First Book.

Joi’s First Book.

At Iowa State University, Joi paid extra so she could have her own dorm room which she modified to set up a large cutting table and sewing machines.  She produced the student fashion show and won the top prize in many categories every year.  Joi graduated first in her class with a degree in Apparel Design, Merchandising, and Production with a secondary in product development.
After college, Joi leased office space and started doing custom designs.  She says, “I feel it is important to actually do what I teach.  Custom work is still a portion of my design work.  I am always open to design opportunities.  I design clothing in collaboration with independent companies and I have a patent on a garment which may soon be licensed.”

Joi considers teaching an extension of her design work, but with a husband and two young children at home, she limits her travel.  Last year she was honored to be named the American Sewing Expo’s Teacher of the Year. She is frequently invited to teach the teachers — at sewing machine conventions and industry events.

Joi’s Original Designs with Sashiko Details.

Joi’s Original Designs
with Sashiko Details.

Teaching Craftsy classes Fast Track Fitting and Fast Track Fitting In The Details allows Joi to reach people all over the world with her unique fit methods.  These classes are based on the unique measuring and fitting methods she developed over the years.

Writing is also a logical extension of Joi’s design work.  Her first book came out recently: Create the Perfect Fit:  Measuring and Pattern Fitting for Real Sewing Solutions.  Joi says, “The book is a natural step because as I travel the country — I meet all these people who have what I call “Fit Anxiety”.  They struggle with fit and they have taken every class, bought every book and still cannot get the fit right.  I have real solutions for them.”

Designing, teaching, and writing all led to Joi Mahon’s McCall Patterns.   M7025 is a coat with two lengths.  M7017 is a four-piece skirt & top.  She also has a Holiday design coming out in the Winter catalog, with at least five more patterns to follow.  Look for a new design in each pattern catalog.


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