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Solving a different kind of puzzle

This is the third installment of the Global Talent Spotlight, an in-depth look at employees from all over the globe who take their creativity to the next level. From street artists, singers and comedians to painters, authors and documentarians, our FCB family is full of amazingly interesting people who all have a story to share. 

By: Ariel Buda-Levin, Medical Director, ProHealth

I've known how to sew since I was little; my mom taught me. Learning to sew as a child allowed me to produce a steady string of doll clothes and lopsided purses in fabrics only a nine-year-old could love.

Even though I stopped sewing for a few years, I resumed in my 20s when I moved to New York. At the time I wore a lot of vintage clothing and was shocked to discover how expensive vintage clothes were in New York. I realized that if I bought vintage sewing patterns I could make my own “vintage” dresses – ones that would always be in my size, in colors I liked, and free of the stains, rips and other problems common to vintage clothing. Over the years my tastes in sewing have shifted. I now make mostly modern-style clothes.

The appeal of sewing is obvious – I can make whatever I want! Bright orange winter coat? Pitch suit that’s business on the outside, crazy floral on the inside? Electric-green wrap dress? Done, done and done. The practice of sewing has provided me with more than clothes, however. Sewing has taught me patience and new ways to think.

I’ve learned patience because sewing takes time. It’s tempting to skip steps – like preshrinking fabric, marking notches when cutting out a pattern, running to the fabric store to buy a zipper in the right color versus using what's on hand – in the rush to finish a garment, but almost inevitably shortcuts turn into long fixes later. In sewing, as in most things, doing things the right way from the start is the best way.

Sewing has also quite literally expanded my mind. Turning a flat pattern into a dress or jacket is an exercise in 3-dimensional thinking. Seeing a picture in a magazine or a garment in a store window and trying to figure out how it was put together is a puzzle. And putting it together with my own two hands engages a different kind of thinking than I typically use as a medical director with ProHealth.

Solving these different kinds of puzzles at home and on weekends has helped me to become a more nimble thinker when faced with a different set of challenges at work.