The following is a perfect example of what some serious effort, research, a lot of prayer, and God’s blessings can do in business. Although Angela had sewn a piece here and there, she really wasn’t a great sewer, and if she had relied on her junior high Home Economics class, she would have never sewn again! Nevertheless, Angela started a succesful sewing business: Custom Sewing & Alterations.
How the Sewing all Started…
When Lowell and Angela moved to Invuvik, NT, Angela couldn’t find work for which she had been trained (Architectural Technologist), so they had to look at other options. At first, she worked as a French teacher’s assistant in the local public school, then as a dorm supervisor in the student housing for out of town students. When those ended, she began to think about what she could do at home. Well, she could hem pants, take in a seam, so why not a sewing business?
At first, she worked in the two bedroom trailer they rented, then a local business hired her to run their sewing shop, which she did for about 6 months. This work gave her vital practical experience for the road ahead. When she gave birth to their firstborn, Sarah, the business shifted to home again.
From hemming; replacing zippers in pants, parkas, and sleeping bags, to curtains, dog sled liners, tents, boat and canoe covers, and insulated hangar curtains; the list grew. Taxi and St. John Ambulance drivers and RCMP officers were some of her main clients as was Lowell’s work: Aklak Air.
The first sewing machine that was bought before they moved from New Brunswick, was a 17 yr old Brother home machine. When that wore out, it was relaced with a $250 Kenmore that saw the bulk of the work until a used industrial PFAFF straight stitch/zig-zag became the main machine. It was on this machine that the final Inuvik job was finished: 30 canoe covers. A Babylock serger was also a wonderful addition.
After moving to Kelowna, Angela did minor sewing on the side, but the bulk of it was being done for their three daughters who outgrew clothes as fast as Angela could make them.
The Beginning of Trenholm Sew-All
In 2006, since the first 3 children were old enough to take care of the house and younger siblings, Lowell and Angela began to discuss restarting the sewing business to not only provide extra income, but to provide jobs at home for their children to save for college. After much discussion on the business approach, Trenholm Enterprises Inc. was formed on July 11th, 2006, under which Trenholm Sew-All would operate and future businesses would grow.
Although it made things difficutlt, all initial expenses were covered by personal finances. Since the Kenmore sewing machine had long deceased, been replaced with an almost-new Janome which was on it’s last legs as well as the Babylock serger, the purchase of new sewing machines was a priority.
A computerized Brother was first purchased, but when it became clear it would not stand up to the rigors of daily sewing, it was exchanged for a computerized Pfaff. The Pfaff industrial from Inuvik still works as the day it was bought, but a Juki walking foot machine was purchased for the bulk of heavier sewing.
The serger is also a Pfaff, but has not been as reliable a machine as anticipated and may be replaced with a Bernina as well as an industrial serger.
With the shop setup and business cards distributed to businesses, the paper route, and Lowell’s work, the first customer arrived in September 2006. The first 6 months were very slow, but it gave everyone a chance to get into the new routine. As business began to increase, the bulk of the work was clothing repairs and minor upholstery, but soon the more interesting boat cover repairs and custom boat covers began to show up, and even custom bags for survey equipment.
Fast forward to Winter 2007/2008:
On top of all the regular and new customers, Angela has alteration/repair work from a local dry cleaner – Homestyle Cleaners, Mark’s Work Wearhouse, and is beginning to do contract work for a local company, Okanagan Slipcover Co.
At the rate the business is growing, there will be no problem giving the girls the work they need to help save up for college.
December 8th, 2008
The Pfaff Coverlock serger has been replaced with two Janome home sergers (3/4 thread and a coverstitch) and a Brother industrial.
We stopped doing slipcovers in Sept. 2008 as the time/wage ratio just wasn’t profitable. We’ve since taken on work with Kelowna Flighcraft making rudder and elevator curtains for Convair 580’s.
It’s a blessing to see more and more regular clients. The older folks especially love talking with our girls.
‘Till next update!
Due to Angela’s health issues, and the difficutly of dealing with the BC HST tax, Trenholm Sew-All was closed around 2011/2012.
2014 Update: With Angela’s health issues resolved/under control, the customer sewing resumes under a new business name – yet to be determined.
New business name. New business website: Angela’s Stitch ‘N Time