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A Labor of Love

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Work at something you love and success will follow. We’ve all heard it, but who believes it? Natalya Sonina, owner of Natasha’s Tailoring and Dry Cleaning at 3803 N. Oakland Ave., actually proves it. “You’re supposed to like what you do,” the Russian born seamstress claims. “You can learn how to sew, but if you don’t like it, you’re not going to do it.” Nayalya learned to sew from her grandma who worked as a seamstress in Russia, supporting her husband and four children after the war. When Natalya was seven years old, she watched women sew in a Russian clothing company where her mother worked as a bookkeeper. “I sewed for my dolls, for my friends’ dolls, and when we grew up I sewed for my girlfriends,” Natalya says. She attended college in Russia, and in 1995 moved from the Ukraine to America with her husband and their two daughters, her mother, sister and brother. They settled here in Milwaukee near other family members who had come before them. Natalya worked as a seamstress for a downtown design company, and then in May of 2000 she and her husband opened her tailoring business on Oakland Ave. In addition to alterations, Natalya makes custom clothing, evening gowns, “pretty much everything for the woman,” she explains. “If you bring me a picture of what you like or what you have in mind, I can probably copy it.” She also does upholstery work. “One lady brought me a chair in the shape of a big shoe. The material was very old, and she wanted a new cover for her shoe chair. After I finished the cover, it was so hard to put back on the shoe. My husband helped, and it turned out good. The woman was very excited.” Natalya’s shop has a homey atmosphere — comfortable couch and chairs around a coffee table where customers can relax while waiting or discussing their sewing needs. During our interview a customer came in to pick up his trench coat — Natalya had surprised him by lengthening his coat sleeves two inches for a better fit. He was delighted. Natasha’s Tailoring and Dry Cleaning is open Monday-Friday from 10 am to 6 pm, and Saturdays from 10 to 2.
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