Crafty Creations Helps Customers Creatively | February 2017
By Maria Landry
Somewhere in Canaan, an elementary school student has a T-shirt that says, “I love to sew. I made this shirt at Crafty Creations.” It’s a fitting tribute to the little downtown Skowhegan shop that not only sells handmade items and does alterations but also offers classes that give locals the opportunity to craft their own handiwork.
Owner Tina White opened Crafty Creations at 165 Water Street six years ago after working 15 years at New Balance—in prefit, stitching, and as a team leader—and taking a year off to finish her business management degree.
“I decided that I was just going to work for myself,” White said from the back of her shop recently while stitching a name onto a jersey. “Therefore I could focus on my children—what they were doing in school, how they were doing in school—but also have the opportunity to make a living the way I wanted to. No expectations out of anybody else but my customers, and nobody else to be responsible for but myself, so what goes out the door is mine, it has my reputation on it.”
White started with consignment and then began doing hemming and alterations. “It kind of exploded from there,” she said. “Then we got into wedding gowns, prom gowns, tuxedos. My youngest son got intrigued by a vinyl machine we had used at a friend’s business, and we ended up purchasing one ourselves. We do vinyl, we do consignment, we just do a lot of handmade, hands-on stuff.”
While White runs Crafty Creations alone, her husband will help when he has days off or during large events like River Fest and the Holiday Stroll. Her son Matthew, age 16, is also an enthusiastic assistant.
“He’s very eager to learn about the business,” White said. “He’s more than willing to step up and help me out when I need it. He’ll even try to help somebody with an alteration, and they’ll be like, ‘Oh, no, I need to speak to your mother.’ He’s like, ‘No, really, I can help you.’”
Crafty Creations features classes in sewing, scrapbooking, and more, running both group and individual sessions depending on customer needs. Sewing students range from children as young as 6 to citizens in their 80s.
“I’ve had ladies come in that say, ‘We’d love to do a sewing class as a group of four,’” White said. “I’ve taught a class with a student who is ADH. He has a very hard time focusing in a classroom setting, but I’m able to offer him one-on-one sessions where he can get what he needs. He really has to buckle down to accomplish what he wants to accomplish because he’s just got so much energy to burn. He absolutely loves it though. … It’s whatever works best for the customer.”
When asked about her favorite aspect of her work, White remains focused on her customers.
“I have to say customization and helping others,” she said thoughtfully. “I have several customers that go through dialysis every day, so lots of times that’s customizing sleeves where I have to take a cuff off and put buttons on so it’s easy to use. I have another lady who’s had breast cancer. She’s had both breasts removed, so we fitted her bathing suits to hold her prostheses on the inside. If she goes to aerobics classes or something in the pool, she still feels like a woman just like everybody else, without the worries. I would have to say that’s some of my favorite work.”