YEDaily: Dilys Tong

After focusing on theatrical costuming, even working on production teams for The Lion King, Mama Mia, Hairspray and The Producers (to name a few), Dilys Tong wanted to share her love of fashion and design with others and opened her first Sew Be It studio, where she and other instructors teach people of all ages the art of sewing in today’s YEDaily…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your business in a nutshell.
SBIS is a sewing studio dedicated to promote the art of sewing with a modern twist. Fashionistas from age 8 and up are welcome to come to the studio and create their own custom garments in our classes, ranging from Beginner Sewing to Pattern Drafting to Fashion Illustration!

Why did you start your business, what was the inspiration?
I started my career in costume making for movies and theatre. Whenever I told people what I do for a living, they would always say “I wish I knew how to sew but all the places that teach sewing are so “uncool”!”, and that planted a seed in my head. I thought it was time to bring back sewing with a modern twist: A place where dollies and teddy bear embroidered jackets are forbidden.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part is the meeting the students and watching them get excited about their creations. Especially the little ones; they tend to get a glow of accomplishment when they finish their project. It’s also very gratifying to see our teenage students take the skills they’ve learned at the studio to inspire a career. A lot of our students go on to study fashion at schools like Parsons and F.I.T.

The most challenging part is not get overwhelmed with my daily “To-do” list, since it has a way to growing longer every minute.

Where do you see your business going in 5 years?
I see an SBIS and SBIG in each major city in Canada, and hopefully Europe!

What does success look like to you?
To me success is when you can say “I love what I do and I wouldn’t change it for anything.”

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Once at a party I encountered a handful of people and their friends who had heard of SBIG and SBIS and had a ton of great things to say about the company. It was, and still is, great to know that we have established a very positive reputation.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Stay focused on your goals, and know your assets. Do what you do best, and hire the right person to do the things you suck at doing. Oh, and make sure you take time for yourself because if you burn out, you are no good to anyone. Be kind to others. Just play nice. Remember what goes around, comes around.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Any charities related to animal rescue: Canadian Chihuahua Rescue and Transport, the North Toronto Cat Rescue, the Toronto Humane Society, and Toronto Animal Services. I have always had a soft spot for animals and being a mom to my dog Betty, I can’t bare the thought of homeless animals. I am a suck… I know.

What is Notable to you?
A notable person is someone who is not afraid to take risks and has the courage to do what is right; someone who is a mensch; someone who talks the talk and walks the walk.

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone all the way for sure!

How do you keep active, energetic, and vibrant?
Boot camp twice a week, and my 2 o’clock Friday happy hour.