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Recycled Denim Creates Thriving Business

Several years ago, Pat Wasylkowski received a request from a client of her husband’s hair salon for a pair of moccasin-style slippers. “I had always enjoyed sewing in home economics at school, and although it had been many years since I’d sewn anything, I thought I’d give it a go,” she says.

After several attempts, she had designed and sewn a pair of slippers she was pleased to sell to the woman. Her first customer was thrilled with them and word began to spread. By the end of the year, Pat had sold 50 pair; the second year that number doubled.

Pat’s denim slippers were the beginning of a thriving home-based business for the seamstress and entrepreneur from the Village of Marcelin, Saskatchewan. She has since expanded her product line to include tote bags, purses, placemats, aprons, oven mitts and neck-rest pillows, to name a few.

All of Pat’s items are made from recycled denim jeans, which she purchases from thrift stores. “They save boxes of jeans for me — the ones they can’t put out for sale because there’s a hole in the knee or the zippers are gone. Also, sometimes people will drop off bags and boxes of jeans on my doorstep. I appreciate all of these donations,” she says.

A perfectionist by nature, Pat takes pride in designing and constructing her denim products with durability and neatness. “I’m meticulous and picky about my sewing. My products are made with purpose and with the consumer in mind. They’re also col-our co-ordinated and fashionable. I think people want to see professionalism,” she says.

As the demand for her products increased, Pat registered her business, Denim Creations Made by Pat. She retired from her position with the Marcelin Credit Union where she’d been working for 24 years, and purchased additional sewing machines, sergers and an industrial sewing machine. She also hired an assistant, Louise Diehl to work with her.

Pat’s comfy slippers are made with a denim body, cowhide leather soles and polar fleece lining. The edges are fringed. They come in a wide variety of sizes from a children’s size three to a men’s size 11. They are fully washable.

Pat’s designs are mostly her own, or improved upon in some way. Her neck-rest pillows, for example, are gently curved to fit the neck and have an elastic strap to fit over a headrest to prevent the pillow from falling.

One of the popular items, and Pat’s favourite, is what she calls her elegant purse. It has a large zippered pocket on the front and two smaller pockets on the back, one with a zipper, the other with a flap. All have computerized sewing machine accents and designs on the front and back. “These are all unique one-of-a-kind designer purses,” Pat says proudly.

Pat sells her denim creations at craft and trade shows across the Prairies. She also sends out mail orders on request. Since she started keeping track, she’s sold over 6,000 pair of slippers in addition to 4,000 other product items.

“It’s very gratifying when people compliment my work and come back for more. I know I’ve made a good product and they’ve enjoyed it.”

For more information, visit www.denimcreationsmadebypat.com

or phone Pat Wasylkowski at (306) 226-2049.

Edna Manning writes from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

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