Bedsworth crafts a business of her own

Published 2:10 pm Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Andi Bedsworth, a member of the Builders + Backers 2021 cohort, may not be an Oxford native, but like many other transplants, she has put down roots and focused on teaching the community how to make a living off the art of sewing.

Heartland Forward Builder + Backer Idea Accelerator program is designed to assist local entrepreneurs with ideas for how to tackle a problem in their community to design, refine and then run an experiment to test that solution, fueled by a $5,000 Pebble grant.

Bedsworth’s initial goal was to use the grant to begin a sewing-apprenticeship program and address the trade industry’s need for workers, but through her experience she wanted to give others the option to make a business out of the skill.

Originally from Louisiana, Bedsworth worked in the costume and theatre industry since 1989 and through a job opportunity, Bedsworth moved to Oxford and managed the costume shop at the University of Mississippi from 2004 to 2011. 

Bedsworth ran the costume shop and taught technology classes, but she did not get to indulge in her passion for design.

“I wasn’t able to design a lot,” she said. “There was like a separate teacher for that and at the beginning I had gotten to design a lot but towards the end, I wasn’t able to do that. I was just feeling really squelched.”

During her last year at the university, Bedsworth took the time to work out her future and create a business plan. Bedsworth admits that before Builders + Backers, she never saw herself as an entrepreneur, but she was inspired by her job as a freelance costume designer in the 1990s and developed the idea of teaching classes in different communities around Oxford through a mobile business.

“I didn’t at all train as a business person, I trained as a costume and theatre professional,” said Bedsworth. “When I started my own business, I didn’t know a lot about it.” 

She sought help from Ole Miss’ business development center and became involved in the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. Bedsworth works closely with YAC who helped her develop the idea to help organize and direct the children’s summer and holiday art programs.

Now, Bedsworth runs her own business, Art in Go LLC, a mobile arts education company offering mixed-media classes for students of all ages. When Bedsworth is not running Art In Go or teaching art and sewing, she is a freelancer for Theatre Oxford and other similar projects.

The opportunity to join the Idea Accelerator program came through her involvement with the community. Bedsworth was sent an email about the program through the chamber and filled out the application with the idea to start a sewing training program.

“They don’t teach sewing in schools anymore and it used to be that you learned it in Home Economics,” said Bedsworth. “A lot of schools — certainly not in Mississippi– don’t offer Home Economics classes anymore. Most people in my generation don’t really sew and from there on to the present day. You have whole generations of people who don’t sew and cook like they used to.”

Bedsworth said many people realize college is not the option for them and decide to go into a trade school, but options are limited there as well. She provides those who are interested the necessary skills to make their own profits, whether it’s a business or working for a factory.

“There needs to be other avenues for people to learn and gain from,” Bedsworth said.

For more information on Andi Bedsworth and her sewing program, visit www.andibedsworth.com.