9 Burning Questions with Fatma Konyalioglu of Fatma’s Alterations

Fatma Konyalioglu says you’re more than welcome to attempt saying her last name, but she’d rather be known simply as Fatma. For nearly three decades, the one-named wonder has run Fatma’s Alterations in Overland Park, where she’s discovered a following of adoring, fiercely loyal, and multi-generational clientele. “Brides who once brought in their wedding dresses to be altered are now bringing in their daughters for prom dress fittings,” she says. “My customers know how much I appreciate their business.”

With 50 years of experience as a tailor, Fatma says if fabric is somehow involved, she can repair, reinvent, repurpose, or reconfigure it. “How? Because I’m very good at what I do—and I don’t mean to sound conceited,” she says with a laugh. “I take pride in my abilities to deliver quality craftsmanship.”

I sat down with the Turkish-born seamstress extraordinaire to ask her nine burning questions. Naturally, she served up some ultra-strong Turkish coffee while we dished.

9) Break down your alterations by percentages, please.
“I do all sorts of alterations. But percentage-wise? I’d say 40 percent are hems, 25 percent are bridal gowns and prom dresses, and 35 percent is, well, everything else— including men’s suits. So. Many. Men’s. Suits.”

 8) Finish this sentence: The weirdest thing I’ve sewn is …
“ … a tuxedo for someone’s dog. Seriously. The dog was going to be the best man at someone’s wedding. I couldn’t say no. They were begging me. They wanted the dog to be in the wedding. So, of course, I did it.”

 7) You’ve been known to save the day once or twice—or a hundred times, yes? Tell me more.
“Yes! Once I had a customer that had a contoured evening gown tailored for her daughter’s wedding in New York. For every fitting, she had to fly to New York. Three fittings later and the dress still did not fit her. And she was extremely unhappy. After asking around, she ended up at my shop. I had three weeks to reconfigure the entire gown. Even with such a short deadline, I got it done. It was perfect for her perfect day. I earned a customer for life that day—and also her entire family.”

6) How much Turkish coffee is too much Turkish coffee?
[laughs] “I drink Turkish coffee at least three times a day. One taste and you’ll know how good it is. It’s Turkish tradition to drink it first thing in the morning, after lunch, after dinner, and, of course, while you’re sitting around talking. If you have guests, you make a pot of coffee. It’s part of our culture—in fact, one of our sultans discovered coffee. And, yes, I make it strong. Your spoon almost stands up in it—almost but not quite. Good thing the cups are so small.”

5) What’s the best part of your job?
“The close relationships I create with my clients and the trust we build over the years. I make them happy. I take pride in what I do. Plus, I’m a perfectionist and my clients know this. Somebody always knows somebody who does alterations, but no one gets referrals like I do. People feel comfortable recommending me to their friends.”

4) Do you always dress up at work? I’ve never once seen you in sweats.
“It’s because I want to look the best I can. My clients, some of them look at me and comment on my fashion, and then look at the hem on my pants. I represent my business by dressing up. Plus, the perfect outfit always makes me feel good. I get up, have my Turkish coffee, shower, do my hair and make-up—and then it’s time to decide what to wear. If you look good, you feel good, and you’ll make your clients feel good. Even on Sundays, I’m put together.”

3) What would you be doing if you weren’t a tailor?
“That’s easy—I would be a psychiatrist. Clients tell me everything. Everything. I could write a book. I won’t, but I could. My lips are always sealed. I do tailoring for wives, husbands, uh, and their mistresses. And I always listen and give good advice. I’m very compassionate—I cry with my clients all the time.”

2) You’re not going to retire anytime soon, are you?
“Originally the plan was to come work in the U.S. for 10 to 15 years and then move back home. Here we are 51 years later. Yes, I’m planning on eventually retiring and moving back home to Turkey. I’m not going to do this until I die, I want to live a little. Having your own business can consume your whole life. But I come to work happy every day. Even days where I’m exhausted are some of the best.”

1) Have you always been known simply as Fatma?
“Yes, that’s always been the case. I’m like Cher—does anybody even know Cher’s last name? My last name is so long, you couldn’t even pronounce it, even if I gave it to you. Everybody knows Fatma. If I’m out someone automatically knows me by my one name. My name is unique—just like Cher’s name is unique. Look at Charo! They don’t know Charo’s last name, but they know she can sing and dance. People don’t know my last name, but they certainly know I can sew.”

3 thoughts on “9 Burning Questions with Fatma Konyalioglu of Fatma’s Alterations

  1. Thank you for highlighting Fatma – she is a talented and a testimonial to how sewing can support an individual.

    Come see us at The Sewing Labs sometime and how we teach sewing for jobs and enrichment

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