Sweet Dreams prepares young women to enter the workforce, as thoughtful leaders by providing hands-on experience in operating a product-based sewing business. Our vision is to develop “makers” and entrepreneurs and as a result, empower young women to define their future.
In 1999, Turning Heads began a unique program that combined vocational arts instruction and entrepreneurship training at Log Cabin Ranch, a San Francisco Juvenile Probation Department detention facility for male youth. Log Cabin is in San Mateo County. Our vocational programs continued at the Ranch for ten years.
Meanwhile in San Francisco, Turning Heads was busy developing a new program for low-income, high-risk, young women of color. In 2005, using our established model, we launched the Sewing and Fashion Design Project. We recruited San Francisco high school students to learn to sew and develop their own small businesses.
By 2006 some of our students initiated Sweet Dreams, a small product-based sewing business, thus actualizing our model. Students who completed Turning Heads’ Introduction to Sewing have joined Sweet Dreams and become part of our creative community of young women becoming successful at sewing and entrepreneurship.
Young female entrepreneurs design, handcraft and bring to market their line of hand crafted lavender eye pillows, aromatherapy dream pillows, neck pillows, yoga mat bags, re-purposed tote bags and zip cases. Interested students share financial management and production management duties while all members practice cooperative decision-making and profit share.
In 2006, our sewing project was featured in an article titled The Start-Up as the First Step Up in the Business Day section of The New York Times. Turning Heads still mentors and incubates Sweet Dreams, providing a production studio, technical and business training, including strategic thinking, moderating business meetings and keeping financial records.
Sweet Dreams provides industrial arts education, sewing, and entrepreneurship training for immigrant and low-income young woman from SFUSD. Sweet Dreams’ production headquarters are within a small sewing
studio in the Mission operated by Turning Heads Collective, a non profit.
The COVID pandemic’s impact on Sweet Dreams Project was significant. All small businesses in the Bay Area suffered but Sweet Dreams is unique as a social enterprise and after school training program. When San
Francisco Unified School District closed, our studio had to close. Sweet
Dreams members, makers, all SFUSD students, had to stay home. We
were forced to cease production.
Sweet Dreams refused to stop…
During the COVID shut down, Sweet Dreams pivoted to a cottage industry
model. To facilitate the creation of goods, young women entrepreneurs
produced Sweet Dreams’ products, lavender eye pillows and neck wraps,
in their homes using Sweet Dreams’ sewing machinery. Staff facilitated
production by prepping materials, hand delivering to the students, and then
picking up completed products for mail or delivery to customers.
For 20 months, COVID restricted our program. In June 2022, Turning Heads’ studio reopened with air purifiers and fans to increase circulation. Sweet Dreams’ staff and young entrepreneurs returned to the production studio. One Staff member meets with young women entrepreneurs every
week. They produce Sweet Dreams’ products in house and have been
rebuilding the Sweet Dreams community.
COVID has impacted our students’ social, economic and educational health; their opportunities have worsened. Some students are experiencing anxiety and are shut down emotionally. Despite such challenges, including the reduction of Sweet Dreams’ client base as a result of the pandemic, we are ready for the next chapter. SFMade has stepped forward to assist Sweet Dreams with web site maintenance and other business related
needs, and we are beginning to increase production and get back into pop-
ups and markets.
We remain steadfast in our mission of preparing young women to enter the
workforce as thoughtful leaders by providing hands-on experience in
operating a product-based sewing business to develop “makers” and
entrepreneurs. We empower young women to define their future.
Talking to the Founders
Founding director Jane Segal has over 30 years of experience teaching, developing curricula, and working with youth of all ages. Jane holds a California multiple subjects credential, a BFA from California College of Art and is a Certified Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) instructor. In 2003 she co-founded Turning Heads and Sweet Dreams.
“Working with Turning Heads and Sweet Dreams has confirmed that our vision of combining vocational arts education and entrepreneurship training empowers high-risk young women.”
Program Director and Studio Manager, Dioanna Deem has more than 25 years of experience in retail, marketing, and teaching fiber arts. She has been sewing since she was 10 and studied pattern making at Apparel Arts Institute in San Francisco. Dee says:
“…working with the young women in our program is the most gratifying experience I’ve ever had.”
Dee was one of Turning Heads’ first sewing instructors and she loves sharing her knowledge of color, texture and design. She keeps the studio operating smoothly and is the production mentor for the young women of Sweet Dreams.