Brenda Schmidt- Designer, Pattern Maker, Merchandiser and Instructor


​Inspired by color, print and nature, I’m intrigued by what people are wearing and why.  I realized my love of figuring out how to put fabric and design together while at Iowa State University where I earned a Bachelor of Science in Apparel, Merchandising, Design and Production.  During my senior year I won first place for a children’s collection I designed, patterned, hand dyed and constructed at the Iowa State Annual Fashion Show.

I spent 15 years working at Jockey, Inc.  Starting as a pattern maker, then moving into Merchandising and ended up as an Applied Design Researcher.  This amazing opportunity enabled me to take my pattern making experience and take it to the next level, working on a project that included 3D body scanning and human anatomy research that helped Jockey to introduce a new product to the market with a sizing system that is truer to real bodies.

Through these experiences I realized I’m good at seeing the bigger picture and leading people to fill gaps.  This realization led me to my current role as a project manager.

I like adding structure to processes and sharing my knowledge.  I’m energized from being in front of people, teaching, guiding and letting them learn.  I’m excited about the possibilities at MKE Fashion Incubator!
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Mary Pape- Designer, Sewist, Project Manager and Instructor


Mary stumbled upon fashion design as a stay at home mom to her son, Oliver. She was able to channel her creativity during his nap times and after he went to bed and jumped far out of her comfort zone (Special Education Consulting) into designing fashion accessories and created a business called Plaid & Simple in 2014. Plaid & Simple strives to use recycled materials (plaid jumpers and skirts, uniform shirts and pants, vintage scraps) to create its accessories. Designed with the discerning private school clientele in mind, Mary creates custom hair accessories with plaids to coordinate with school uniforms and also uses vintage fabric to create designs that even the most fashionable little divas will crave! Her current product line includes embroidered and monogrammed headbands, hair clips and pony tail holders. Back to School 2015 will include such accessories as pencil cases and bracelets too!


The Fashion Incubator served as  Plaid & Simple's headquarters during a recent large retail order. All independent sewing contractors met in this space and the accessories seam to life in this creative space! 


Mary's role at the Fashion Incubator will be to manage the projects that we take on, to communicate with the designers, space renters and class attendees, and keep up with the ever changing demands of social media. She will also host meet-ups and instruct classes. The possibilities that the Fashion Incubator offer to designers and creatives alike in Milwaukee are endless! 

Terry Schaefer- Founder, Sewist and Instructor


I love the creative process! Nothing excites me and allows me to grow like the arts, a blessing that will forever be a huge part of my life. I began early in my life through sewing, making my own clothing by 3rd grade. I quickly progressed to sewing for my mother and friends, selling my first dress to a fellow classmate in fifth grade. Through the years I’ve gained experience in making wedding and bridesmaid dresses; christening gowns and communion dresses and suits; suits for men and women; and all types of clothing for adults and children.

For 32 years I have owned a small business, Co-Du-Co, that designs and customizes dust covers for computers, printers, all types of electronic equipment and industrial items.

About 10 years ago I began marketing designs I’ve made through Tinatabagetts, a way to nuture my creative side!

A while ago, when the Spirit of the 7th Fire was in Milwaukee, I had the opportunity to create and repair outfits and work as a dresser for the show. They invited me to join them while the tour was in Washington, D.C. for the grand opening of the National Museum of the American Indian. It was a very creative and amazing experience.

Gretchen Robers- Sewist and Instructor


Gretchen discovered her passion at age 9 when she began sewing in 4H club.  She made clothes for herself and friends, entered competitions to hone her skills and by the time she reached college was making formal wear alterations at a local bridal shop.

After graduating she worked for 12 years managing a flower shop. While this job gave her some outlet for her creativity, her true love has been sewing, which she continued to do in her free time. Referrals from friends in custom interior design has led her to projects that include sewing the stage and lobby curtains for the recently renovated Avalon Theater in Bayview, where she had to design her own patterns for velvet panels that were as long as 12 feet.  She also has discovered the total fun of designing and sewing costumes for her two children and their friends.  Her adult friends have gotten into the fun with her  re-creation of the racing sausages costumes we’re familiar with at Brewer games.

Gretchen sees her participation with MKE Fashion Incubator as a chance to get involved and be a part of Milwaukee’s fashion scene. She’s excited about the potential it holds for networking between designers, pattern makers and seamstresses, such as herself. And the opportunity to meet people and share her passion for sewing is icing on the cake!

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