INSPIRE BVI: Lena opens store, for Ashburn
By Davion Smith, BVI News Online Journalist
The opening of Sew It Seams should have happened a few months ago, but it was delayed.
That’s because Ashburn Dawson, who was among key pushers of the plan, was shot dead in March.
The shooting happened days after his aunt, Lena Thomas-Mongra, started to pursue the plan.
“I was a week into the actual planning of the store when he passed away,” Thomas-Mongra told BVI News Online. “The business launch [on Saturday] was a bittersweet moment for me.”
“I first shared the idea of this shop with Ashburn, and he said this is something that he wanted to be a part of,” added the new business owner.
For her, Ashburn’s passing has left an eternal void.
But there is another void that Thomas-Mongra thinks she has mustered enough strength to now fill.
“After a month or two of grieving and getting over the initial shock, I just got up one day and I started to make my list, make calls, and the store is the end result… I just want to say this store is for you, Ashburn,” Thomas-Mongra declared in relation to Sew It Seams, which is located at Wickhams Cay II.
The wedding dress
The British Virgin Islands native, who is a real estate agent by profession, admitted that she ‘can’t even hem a dress’.
But she told BVI News Online that she felt as though it was her civic duty to set up a tailoring shop on Tortola.
“I had the idea to start my own business to try and get more financial freedom,” Thomas-Mongra added.
“When I first thought about doing a business and trying to figure out what exactly I could do that could help to meet some of the public’s needs, I thought about tailoring because – for years – I’ve had my clothes special made. I don’t purchase clothes like the normal person.”
Thomas-Mongra recalled that having her wedding dress tailor-made was among her big challenges.
She eventually found Oswald Bynoe – a tailor from Guyana, who took on the challenge.
“He did a good job,” Thomas-Mongra bragged.
“I have never had a bad experience with him as far as making my clothes [is concerned].”
Bynoe satisfied Thomas-Mongra’s tailoring needs for about 10 years until he left the British Virgin Islands.
His departure actually left Thomas-Mongra in a conundrum.
“My experience with people tailoring in the British Virgin Islands has not been a pleasant one for the short time that I have not had my tailor around.”
“I have had such a bad experience with tailoring when you need something for an event, and you’re supposed to pick it up for 3pm. There is an event at 7pm, and it’s not ready. So, things like that are what I want to change,” the new business owner explained.
Bynoe now runs the tailoring side of Sew It Seams.
“If he says you will get it (tailored clothes) on Wednesday afternoon at 4 o’clock, when I go, it’s there. This is something that I wanted to have in my business, and that’s why I brought Bynoe on board.”
“I want to set a precedence as far as service and professionalism for tailoring services in the British Virgin Islands is concerned,” added Thomas-Mongra.
Passion for fashion
The entrepreneur, in the meantime, has made sure to stamp her passion for fashion onto Sew It Seams.
“As a child, I liked pretty things. People always complimented me on my accessories, clothing, and I guess how I carried myself…”
“I am into fashion. I like accessories [and] evening bags; so I incorporate that in the business with the retail side of things. And, because it’s a tailoring shop, you get a one-stop shop,” Thomas-Mongra further told BVI News Online.
The new entrepreneur also expressed hope that – one day – her business will ‘reach the top’ when it comes to tailoring, fabrics, and fashion accessories.
With help from a celebrated tailor, the fashion-savvy owner of Sew It Seams is already on her way to the top – at least, so it seems.
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