Why I Started Persimmon Peak

Posted by Jen Siow on

Six years ago, I graduated from college with newfound plans to pursue a career in theatre. I'd spent the last two years immersed in my university's theatre program, where I worked on assistantship in the costume shop. I was part of a team of students who built all of the costumes for the Theatre Department's productions. We learned how to work with a designer, how to draft and drape patterns, how to build and alter costume pieces and fit them on actors. When that curtain went up on my first opening night, there was no feeling in the world like watching what I built help bring a story to life. It was exhilarating. Magical, even. I was hooked.

Persimmon Peak: Jen's graduation day

Graduation day!

When I stepped out into the professional world, I was shiny, new, and hopeful. As with most recent theatre graduates, my plan was to freelance in the world for a bit then either go back to school for my Master's degree or land a solid full-time gig in a year-round costume shop. The reality is that finding steady, year-round, paid work in the theatre industry can be tough. In reality, you go from contract to contract, gig to gig, for varying degrees of compensation. Often you have gaps of weeks (sometimes months) between work, but you keep at it because nothing is quite as satisfying as the collaborative, creative effort of theatre.

To fill in the gaps between theatre gigs, I picked up work in bridal shops and sewing studios. I stitched for fashion designers and milliners; I did alterations out of my home and took on custom sewing clients. I took on artwork commissions and worked as a housekeeper; I even opened an Etsy shop trying to sell various hand-drawn and hand-sewn items. It was all interesting and informative work, but it was neither steady nor predictable.

Persimmon Peak: previous theatre and custom sewing projects
Theatre and custom sewing projects (clockwise from top left): Joseph's Dreamcoat (Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, STAGES St. Louis, 2017); Horseshoe crab daydress (custom sewing client, 2019); Anna's nightgown (The Baltimore Waltz, University of South Alabama, 2019); Male Ensemble plaid jackets and silver vests (The Boy From Oz, STAGES St. Louis, 2019).

In this time, my husband's career took us to two new cities, and it will likely take us to several more before we are able to settle in one place. After our second move brought us here to Mobile, I realized I needed some kind of work that was more constant, more reliable, and flexible enough to allow me to take a theatre job here and there.

And that's when I decided it was time to fill another childhood ambition and start my own business. The idea was (and still is) that I will build a business that is able to support me wherever we may end up. It will be there for me between theatre gigs and it may even put me through graduate school one day.

Thus, I started Persimmon Peak in October of 2019. I wanted to combine my skills as a seamstress and artist with my love of pets to create a company that celebrates the bond between pet parents and their fur babies. As a proud pet parent, I get so much joy from seeing my babies happy and content. As a seamstress and artist, I also get so much joy from making things for them to wear or capturing their goofy grins in portraits for our home. Through all the uncertainties in life, they have been a constant source of comfort for me, and I take any chance I get to pamper them. 

Throughout the past few months, as our world has battled a global pandemic, Persimmon Peak has become a source of comfort and community for me. When Covid-19 hit, I lost all of the theatre gigs I had lined up for this year, but just as I'd hoped, I was able to fall back on my company to help get me through. What's more, in creating this company, I also started gathering a community of like-minded pet parents; the photos and stories of their fur kids became a much-appreciated bright spot in my day.

Persimmon Peak: Marmie helps me with computer work

Marmie helps me build the business.

In this next phase of Persimmon Peak, I hope this community will continue to join me as I build my business into what I know it can be while we share in the hilarity of these, our persnickety pets.

🐾 What else would you like to know about Persimmon Peak? Drop your questions in the comments below!

 

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