What’s your biggest concern right now? 

I would say trying to find someone to help me part time. Someone that knows how to sew and that can help me out when I get backed up. Wedding season is large for me. I do a lot of wedding dresses for a lot of different stores, like Hussey’s and Andrea’s and Dreams. That’s my passion. I used to have my own bridal shop. I love working on wedding dresses and making the brides happy and making sure everything fits just right and steamed and pressed and out the door.

I fit (the dresses). I’m not doing much from scratch anymore. I mostly do alterations. Prom time’s coming first, so that will start in February/March. And then it goes into bridal and it doesn’t stop ’til probably November. It goes off season. And I do bridesmaids dresses and mother’s dresses. Plus I do my own customers, you know, like zippers and hemming and taking in and letting out. I have a customer base that’s for that, too.

And then I do quilting. So if a person brings me their quilt, I put it together and put it on a machine and do the quilting on it. That’s long-arm quilting. It’s a big machine and you put three layers of the quilt (and sew them together in a quilted pattern). I love to sew. I sew all of the time, and I love to sew. I love to sew in the evenings. It relaxes me. It’s my passion.

I started sewing when I was 8 years old for 4-H — which I think it’s a great organization for girls by the way. I’ve just always loved sewing. And then I made my sister’s wedding gown when I was 18. Then I went through a bad divorce and decided that I wanted to do a bridal business. So I started my own bridal business and did that for 22 years. I just wanted to keep on doing alterations and tailoring. I just had a good customer base and just kept it going. Now basically what I do is alterations in tailoring.

People know that I care, and I want them happy when they leave. They keep coming back and  sending their friends. It’s word of mouth. And I just put a note on the (Facebook) Marketplace, a little ditto of all alterations. I was amazed at how many people came back and said, “You’re amazing. I love you.” “You fixed my dress, I love you.” “You’re great.” Everybody on it was giving me tons of comments, which really was heartfelt. People know that I do a good, good work.

I have quite a few customers that bring in stuff that is so worn. It’s their favorite pair of pants and they’ve got to have them fixed. Sometimes it’s like it’d be better if you just went and bought a new pair of pants. I don’t know if (people don’t fix things) because the schools stopped offering it. There’s just not a lot of us left that really do all sorts of tailoring anymore. It’s too bad because it used to be a thing where you fixed your clothes because you couldn’t afford to go and buy new clothes or you couldn’t afford to go out and buy a new pair of pants.

 

Who influenced you in business?

My father (Hank Coolidge) had an antique business, and we’d always go out and get the stuff and bring it and sell it. So it taught me how to talk to the public and work with money and finances and how to price things. I think that he influenced me in sales and having my own business.

I have pretty much been involved in different businesses all my life. Not necessarily mine, but I’ve worked for other businesses. I liked having my own business. I’m my own boss. There’re pros and cons. You know, you have to be there 24/7 when you work for yourself, and you get tired. You know, you’ve gotta love what you do. It can’t be just a job.

 

How do you foster creativity in yourself?

Everybody’s body is different. So when a bride comes in, you fit her to that dress and give her suggestions and help her. I just had a girl come in — she lost her mother and her mother collected these wall hangings, you know, the stars and the moon. And she said, “Is there any way that you can make me four quilts out of this?” So I designed four quilts for her, and for all her brothers and sisters. They will have a quilt out of her memorabilia that she collected.

I love crafts. I love crocheting. And I make veils from scratch too for the brides. Sometimes a bride will come in and she’s gained weight and I have to make panels. A person will come in that needs hemming because they’re too short or because they’re tall and they need some length (added). It’s not repetitive. It’s always something different that needs repair or needs fixing.

 

What’s your biggest concern right now? 

I don’t really have any concerns right now. I’m reorganizing my store right now to make it more friendly. I get a lot of wedding dresses in the summer. I have racks and racks of wedding gowns and I want to find a way to organize them better. And it’s just all on racks. So, we’re going to do some wall racks, which will be better.

Probably finding someone to help me now with that, you know, to do some odds and ends — steaming and stuff. That’s one of my concerns. But other than that, I don’t really have any concerns.

 

How do you achieve a work/life balance?

I have a good client base. If it should ever run out, which I’m hoping it doesn’t, I’ll retire I guess. But, I doubt it will happen because I love to sew too much. I do craft shows with my alpaca stuff. We have five alpacas, and we have yarn and socks. I’m really having fun with that right now. I did a couple of craft fairs with the alpaca, so that was fun.

I find that I tend to be out in my shop in the evening into the wee hours of the morning because it’s my best time to work. I have no interruptions, but on the other hand, I’ve got to have a balance in life.

So last year, what I ended up doing is making myself go camping at least once or twice a month with my husband. It helped me a lot to get away. But it’s really hard, because I’m here sewing. I’ve worked 15-hour days many times. I get up in the morning, and I’ve got sewing and I don’t stop until 1 or 2 in the morning. It happened a lot last year because my helper (was unavailable).

You have to make a balance for your family and take time for you. So this year, one of my new goals is to do what I can to be here and take X amount of time for for me. So that’s my new thing.