Oh, to be José Rodriguez for a day, working with all those delicious notions and trims on the third floor of Britex fabric store! Britex has been a San Francisco institution—and a destination for sewists around the globe—since 1952. José, a 2017 Cañada graduate, has worked there only a little over a year, but he’s already serving as manager and buyer for their notions department.

“I like to help people a lot,” declares José, which may explain his rapid ascent through the ranks at Britex. About the challenges of customer service, he admits that some people test his patience. Occasionally a client wants the staff to make something for them, rather than just provide the materials. José gently sets them straight by using an analogy: “It’s like a grocery store. They have the ingredients, but you have to cook them at home.” (In cases like this, Britex also has a list of local seamstresses and tailors who can help.)

José is actually quite an accomplished sewist, himself, at this point, having studied fashion at Cañada for seven years. He took his first class, Beginning Construction, in 2010 and was surprised to find it both easy and fun. Although students only need to make a t-shirt, pajama pants and a vest in the class, José also made two dresses “on the side.” In 2012 he won a scholarship from the Peninsula Wearable Arts Guild (PenWAG), showing yet four more dresses and a corset in their fashion show. Since then he hasn’t stopped sewing, noting “I need to keep my skills up.”

José completed his Technical—Apparel Industry Oriented associate’s degree this past spring. He is only a few credits away from two other fashion certificates, which he intends to finish soon. One reason: Britex values and rewards education and has a very experienced team. “They know what they’re doing,” José observes.

What else does the future hold for José? “I want to do bridal,” he reveals. He likes working with lace and has his own take on what a bride needs: separate pieces for a convertible look. Is he worried about working with so-called bridezillas? “I have the patience for them,” he assures.