Rachel Summers

Rachel Summers

In the beginning of 2016, I received a letter from the Social Security Department about the Ticket to Work program. After doing more research into this, I found that I would be eligible to work from my home in an online situation. I contacted DVR in Cody and became eligible for their services. 

Nicole Langman, my DVR Counselor, helped to get me into training with a company called NTI. After going through all their training and applying for many positions over several months, it just wasn’t working out. I don’t know if it was due to geography (my location) or educational experience, but it wasn’t working for me.

At that point, I sat down and took a long, hard look at my situation. I thought to myself, “What do I know how to do, that I could make money at and is not currently available in this area?” I landed upon sewing and alterations. I didn’t know anyone that was doing it. However, I enjoy sewing and I knew I’d like to do more than just alterations. So, I contacted Nicole Langman and we discussed the idea of starting my own business.

Nicole put me in contact with Inge Huband of BEP for the State of Wyoming. Inge Huband helped me through the entire process and even helped me get the start up money I would need for my small business venture. The Business Plan development was the biggest and the hardest part of the whole thing, but Inge helped me through it every step of the way. It is also the biggest single item for success, in my opinion. You have to get every aspect of your business down on paper. Inge kept pushing me and helped me get through the hard parts.

In November of 2016, I received my two sewing machines that were allocated to me by Schuyler Hinckley through DVR and the start up money through BEP. I started sewing small items for people (i.e. zippers, buttons, patches, etc.) to see if there truly would be a need for my business and thus a future for me. There was definitely a need.

In the early Spring of 2017, the Business Plan was finished. Alterations & More was born, and I finally felt like I had a definite path to follow. Inge helped me to understand time management and goal setting in the business realm. I put a small ad in the service section of a newspaper classifieds which served the Big Horn Basin. I started getting calls from not just the Greybull-Basin area, but as far away as Cody, WY (50 miles) and Powell (45 miles), Worland (35 miles) and Lovell (40 miles), as well as rural villages around the Park County and Big Horn County area. All those customers traveled to me to have their sewing and alteration needs met. Alterations & More was no longer a dream, but a reality.

With the help of Jessica Williams, my new DVR Counselor, I had business cards printed and signage put on my car as well as an actual sign made for my place of business. It was taking off and starting to grow. I had put Alterations & More under an LLC that I had gotten when I thought I might be working online and with the help of Inge Huband, once again, it was a smooth transition for me. Inge also stressed to me the importance of obtaining all the needed and correct licensures. It makes things go a lot smoother, especially with collecting sales tax and following state laws. Inge made sure I followed this protocol and I’m glad I did.

My business was taking off and growing. I had business cards, signs, and a steady clientele to prove it. If I have one piece of advice, it is this, “Treat your customers right, and never underestimate the power of word of mouth.”

By October 2017, things were going pretty well and Doug Harsh, my last DVR Counselor, helped me with my final purchase of mannequins and thread. In this business, there are times when I’m so busy that I feel overwhelmed (but it’s a good feeling) and then there are lag times. In those lag times, I design clothing for people and items to sell at craft fairs and shows. I average around $300 per month profit after expenses. 

Overall, it has been a great experience for me. My ultimate goal now is to give back what I have been given. I’d like to teach others how to sew. I don’t see them as competition, but just fellow sewers.

I’d like to thank Nicole Langman, Jessica Williams, Schuyler Hinckley, Theresa Whitpan, and Doug Harsh of Cody DVR. A special thanks to Inge Huband of BEP.  You have made something that was complicated simple, so that I could understand it. I really appreciate it. Thank you so much.