Melissa Quijano, an active member of the Vine Vendor Network, has been sewing since she was five years old. As her craftiness and talent grew throughout high school, she sewed her senior prom dress. Seeing the need to bring the age-old art of sewing to Staten Island, she now teaches students of all ages how to design and sew their own creations through her business, Simply Melissy.
Melissa, like most artists, sewed for the passion and love of the craft, without knowing her gifts would expand into a business. With a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from Brooklyn College, Melissa began teaching creative writing, fine art, and fashion design to students through the Creative Studios project in 2013. This is when she absolutely knew she needed to translate her talent for educating, the fine arts, craftsmanship, fashion, and sewing into a business. Hoping to leave her own mark on the thriving art scene of Staten Island, Simply Melissy was born to spread the love of fashion and sewing around to anyone interested!
Melissa’s methods are unique compared to other sewing teachers. She has a self-authored curriculum which is flexible to adjust to the needs of diverse learners. She never makes students sew lines on paper; she gets them on the sewing machine making a real project on the very first day. With Melissa’s guidance, students usually make a drawstring bag on the first day, which they can use to keep their sewing supplies in. They always finish in the first lesson, so it’s a great motivator to keep sewing. She never leaves her students disappointed or frustrated – her goal is to educate, build confidence, increase motivation, and have students build their own voice through creation.
She largely lets students dictate what they want to do. Students have made Sweet 16 dresses, doll clothes, pocket warmers, stuffed animals and so much more with Melissa’s unique curriculum. She makes suggestions based on level and skill, and students decide when they are ready to move on to the next project – and best of all, they choose the project. She prioritizes enjoyment in the craft over perfection. She believes stressing perfect hems and sleeves from day one is the ideal way to put out the light of passion. All of her students achieve their artistic goals in their own time.
What makes Simply Melissy incredible is that it takes the form of tangible, kinesthetic learning to an entirely new level. She is filling a huge gap in education – the gap where students learn because they want to. Learning for the test is hurting children’s desire to learn, Melissa’s methods introduce topics that could later become passions through the lens of fashion and sewing. She has taught students who have felt hopeless in math fractions in minutes. She has created a lesson where she has students research in real books about history- because they were discovering what Disney princesses “really looked like.” Students are impressed and feel pride in their work because they are learning by having fun.
Simply Melissy is not only for young students, but for teens and adults alike. People who feel frustrated by garments and garb that are not up to standards, people who want to have the skill to sew, all the way to people who want to turn their crafts into a small business. With Simply Melissy, sewing is no longer a lost art form reserved for tailors and seamstresses, it is a skill to be shared by anyone for any age group.
Melissa is eager to work with individuals, schools, senior centers, or groups to teach sewing. She has a proven method, flexible scheduling, and does her best to never turn away a student. She is a thoughtful entrepreneur with a true vision that all students of any age are capable of learning to sew. Whether you’re looking to fix buttons or fashion design ball gowns, Simply Melissy is the ideal and only choice.
Melissa teaches in private homes and at Staten Island Dance and Art Center. Contact her to set up your first lesson!
Want to see more? We don’t blame you! Follow these links to get an even better feel for Simply Melissy.