The Art of Restyling: Meet Seamstress Casey Norman

The Art of Restyling: Meet Seamstress Casey Norman
Credit: Altered Ego’s Facebook page.

Once on a career path in criminal justice, Casey Norman realized her passion was something she learned in childhood—sewing. Today, the seamstress runs Altered Ego in Bismark, ND, which offers tailoring, alterations and garment restyling services. “I work on all types of clothing, but I’m most passionate about re-styling and updating garments. You can truly transform a piece with a needle and thread—giving it a whole new life, a longer life and giving someone a brand new altered ego when they put it on,” Casey says about her creative business.  

Discover more about Casey’s tailoring business in her interview with Artisan Joy. 

How did you get started creating your art or creative product?

I started learning to sew in my grandma’s sewing room. I didn’t really pick it back up until my 20s when I was at a crossroads between following what I thought my dream was (criminal justice) and discovering what my dream really was—sewing. 

When did you realize that you could turn your artwork or creative product into start a business?

I was an apprentice with a known local seamstress in Bismarck and was inspired by her passion and success. I want to be her, I thought to myself. I knew that I had the skills to launch a business, and somewhere along the way, I found the courage and determination. 

Credit: Altered Ego’s Facebook page.

How do you define success for your business?

Success is defined solely by how my customers feel. There’s such a palpable energy shift when a client wears their garment during the fitting versus after the work is complete. A properly fitting garment does more than accentuate one’s body—it really does transform their spirit. I always say, “don’t let the clothes wear you; you wear the clothes.” I don’t need six figures to feel successful. I feel successful when my clients feel beautiful. 

Where do you find inspiration for your work?

Honestly, I feel inspired every time I see fabric. I feel inspired when I see somebody wearing clothes that fit them. I even feel inspired when I see someone in clothes that don’t fit them. Go visit your local mall or walk downtown. You can see the difference in people wearing clothes that fit well versus clothes that don’t. When someone feels good in what they’re wearing, their head is held high, they’re making eye contact, they’re standing taller. Clothes represent who someone is, their values and ideals, and the right outfit makes someone feel seen. Giving people confidence and showing them how amazing they can look is what inspires me to keep sewing. 

What’s one piece of advice you wish someone had given you when you first started your business?

Honestly? Have someone else do your accounting.But no really, Mary, the woman I apprenticed with, once told me: “Do what you do best, and hire out the rest.” That’s really stuck with me. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start selling their art or creative product?

Look at one tree at a time; don’t look at the entire forest. Focus on small actionable steps (plant the seed and water the tree). Before you know it, you’ll have a magnificent forest of your accomplishments. 

Credit: Altered Ego’s Facebook page.

What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?

In high school, I was definitely not known for my fashion sense. I frequented the local thrift shops before they were cool and was mostly known for my fashion blunders more than my fashion finesse. It was also harder for me to find clothes at 5’10” which further limited my options. 

As creatives, we can be continuously creating and refining our art. How do you handle perfectionism?

Not very well; I’ll be 100% honest. I refer to myself as a real “anal Annie” when it comes to a lot of things, including my craft. I’ve learned over the years that there is definitely beauty in imperfection, and it’s okay to approach things differently and use more creative thinking sometimes. 

What’s something that surprised you about running a creative business?

The thing that surprises me the most is when people want me to justify my service costs. For example, I get asked how much it costs to hem a pair of jeans. It’s only $15, and yet people are shocked when I tell them. I have machines to maintain, electricity to power them, my time, my skill—the list goes on! I feel like as artisans we shouldn’t have to defend our pricing. Customers are paying for so much more than the end result.

Credit: Altered Ego’s Facebook page.

What’s your advice for handling the highs and lows of running a business?

Don’t give up, and keep your eye on the next tree. Simple, but so important. 

Has someone ever criticized your work? How did you handle it?

It’s a learning experience every time. I always tell clients that I aim for perfection, but even I have off days. If you want to hone a skill, you need to be able to accept criticism. However, sometimes you need to know when someone’s feedback is founded in truth or founded in misinformation. You know your craft best. Don’t forget that! 

What’s a cause you are passionate about?

I care a lot about children in need. One of my main reasons for wanting to work in Criminal Justice was to help our misguided youth. I feel that the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program does a great job at helping kids who need extra guidance and support. You can learn more at

Credit: Altered Ego’s Facebook page.

Can you share the name of a supplier or vendor that you use for your business that you just loveone that makes running your business a bit easier? 

Wawak! They have a brilliant selection of all things sewing, but especially their threads and sewing notions. 

What brings you joy?

My family and framily (friend family) and the memories we make together. I love spending time in nature. Beyond that, I really feel that I can find joy in almost anything. They call me “Smiles” for a reason! 

Thanks, Casey! You can learn more about her work at

Editor’s Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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