Hope for Flowers embraces Detroit garment production through sewing apprenticeship program, ‘Made in Detroit’ designs

by Rachael Thomas on March 21, 2024


 Throughout her career, designer Tracy Reese’s work has been synonymous with classic, intentional, feminine style. Upon moving back home to Detroit and launching Hope for Flowers in 2019, Tracy has solidified the brand’s presence in the city as a source for sustainable garment production and a resource for local artisans to connect and thrive. Since moving into our Midtown Detroit studio, Hope for Flowers has been able to expand on that work through our recently launched the Hope for Flowers’ Expert Sewer Apprenticeship and Made in Detroit designs.


What is the Expert Sewer Apprenticeship?

Our Hope for Flowers’ Expert Sewer Apprenticeship aims to fill the current gap in Detroit’s manufacturing ecosystem, by focusing on ethical production, small-batch manufacturing and empowering talent right within the city.

Registered with Michigan’s Department of Labor, our program officially launched in January, with the support of The Ford Foundation, Ballmer Group, and Motor City Match. Apprentices will receive 531 hours of paid Related Technical Instruction and on-the-job training to produce luxury womenswear for our brand. The starting wage is $16 per hour, with regular increases as the apprentice gains more competencies.

The program will increase in complexity over time as apprentices become proficient in the competencies of sewing, allowing them to focus on trade skills and knowledge necessary to perform the elevated techniques reflected in our garments. Apprentices will primarily work with wovens. Over time, the apprentice will meet the efficient production speed and quality needed to produce garments for our Made in Detroit designs.


So, what exactly does Made in Detroit mean?

When a Hope for Flowers garment is Made in Detroit , all of its product development is facilitated  at the Hope for Flowers’ Detroit studio. The pattern for that garment is created either in-house or by a local freelance patternmaker. The garment samples are created in house and once are ready, fittings are done at our studio. Any alterations are also done in house, and once the pattern is finalized, the product is sewn and completed at our studio.

One of the employees creating our Made in Detroit garments is Alicia Hawthorne, Hope For Flowers’ production manager. The 38-year-old Detroiter joined our team in April 2023, following years of working in retail, altering clothes, and later producing garments and personal protective equipment at Detroit Sewn and the former York Project.

Hawthorne recalls her current career wasn’t always in the cards for her; she originally went to school for medical assisting at Clark Atlanta University, but she always had a passion for sewing and upcycling garments. As a high school student in the early 2000s, Hawthorne created dresses and accessories out of oversized football jerseys, using the sewing machine her mom gave her after teaching her to alter clothes as a young child. She took that sewing machine to college and revamped t-shirts for other students on campus. It was then that Hawthorne realized her heart was in the fashion industry, and she transferred to the International Academy of Design and Technology back home in Michigan.


“I’m actually excited about how it’s grown,” Hawthorne says of Detroit’s fashion industry. “There was next to nothing here when I graduated in 2007. There are more factories here, more designers looking for production. I still feel like people don’t know we have factories in Detroit, but I’m definitely excited to see where we’re at in the next few years.”


The future of luxury garment production in Detroit is here

Hawthorne cut and sewed the first Made in Detroit capsule collection which will be available for fall 2024. The organic cotton rib knit fabric imported from The Netherlands for the capsule is GOTS certified. For these designs, Tracy Reese drafted the patterns and Hawthorne was the sample maker, and the production sewer. The sleek, fashion forward styles in this capsule will be available for purchase in August. 


Hope for Flowers looks forward to training sewers through its Expert Sewer Apprenticeship creating more capacity to produce Made in Detroit designs.

“I can’t say that while working with other factories, I was as involved in the process as this, so that’s what I’m most proud of,” Hawthorne says of creating her first garments for the Made in Detroit line. “I’m proud of being a part of it from the beginning to the end.”

We’re excited to hire our first apprentices through the Hope for Flowers’ Expert Sewer Apprenticeship and train them up to become excellent artisans, contributing their talent and creativity to our Made in Detroit line and continue sustainable garment production right in Detroit!




Please note, comments must be approved before they are published