HOW’S THIS FOR an All-American business story?
Two little sisters, Amanda and Michelle Bergeson of Peshtigo, Wisconsin, join the the 4-H Club a couple of decades ago and learn the basics of sewing.
They like it and they demonstrate some talent but then, like all of us, they move on with their lives. Amanda (above right) becomes a teacher, Michelle (above left) a radiation therapist. They move to Marquette, they both marry, Amanda has a child.
They settle in with their comfortable, secure lives, but then in 2016, having rediscovered their love of sewing and fashion, they take the leap: They start Lumi, an online women’s clothing business.
Professional, classic, comfortable skirts, dresses, tunics, tops and cardigans.
“It’s just a passion that we share,” Amanda explains. “We don’t want to give up our careers but…” They aren’t leaving their regular jobs, not at all, but they are having to spend more and more of their time on Lumi.
This is where their story takes a turn. About five months ago, Down Wind Sports took a look at their homegrown fashions, was impressed, and said “We want them.”
They got them. The sisters–Amanda Swanson and Michelle Walters–now have almost an entire wall at Marquette’s Down Wind Sports dedicated to their clothes.
“Our business has more than doubled,” Amanda tells you. They’re getting re-orders from Down Wind every three weeks.
They’re the only employees of Lumi. Which means that each of them spends an entire weekend day–10-12 hours–and a couple of week nights sewing their clothes. All this, while working full-time at their regular jobs and taking care of their families.
Each piece of clothing requires about two hours of work.
“We may have to bring someone else on,” Amanda concedes. They’ve drawn interest from Wisconsin stores. “But we want to do it organically. We don’t want to push too fast.” And they want to maintain their standards, which are exacting.
They’re now designing a new line of spring and summer fashions. Busy gals, realizing their dream.
But they have another one: “Our dream is to have a factory in the U.S.,” Amanda says, “where we’d have a lot of sewers making our clothes.”
Seems like Marquette could find some space for that.
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