LEWISTON, Maine — Sarah Dube Legare is hoping for final approval from the Lewiston Planning Board on Thursday to turn her Main Street garage into retail space for her hand-sewn creations, purses named Amelia, Jane and Haley.
It was going to be a big deal for her one-woman company.
Until last week.
When the Emmys called.
Legare’s EllieAnna Purse Co. has been tapped to make 800 fabric-covered notepads called mini list takers for the official gift bag of the 32nd annual News & Documentary Emmy Awards on Sept. 26.
She got an email inquiry last Monday from the New Hampshire company that’s pulling together the gift bags.
“I was elated and jumping for joy and then I thought, ‘Yeah, right,’” said Legare, 31.
She checked around. It wasn’t spam, or a joke. Staff at Off The Wall Gifts in New Hampshire had done an Internet search with words including “homemade” and discovered Legare’s website.
“To be found by them out of the definitely thousands, probably millions of work-at-home-moms making goodies, it just makes it feel like an even bigger blessing,” Legare said.
Off The Wall Gifts owner Val Wilson said Legare’s was one of several handbag companies she considered.
“We try to find smaller companies that have been up and coming and have the potential to grow, sort of the ‘Oprah effect,’” Wilson said.
Wilson didn’t have anything from Maine yet in the gift bag, plus, “(Legare) just seemed to have it together. I think she sold me with her personality,” Wilson said.
A bonus for Legare: This Emmy Awards will likely draw more celebrities than usual since it’s honoring Larry King, she said.
A single mini list taker, which retails for $12.50 and has slots for a notepad, pen and extra paper, takes Legare 20 minutes to make. Creating 800 would have been almost impossible given her Sept. 22 deadline. So, she has fine-tuned production and has accepted friends’ offers to help. On Tuesday morning, she cut strips of cloth in her sewing room while Cari Beach of Auburn ironed and Nicki Therrien of Greene snipped threads. Her parents, in-laws and husband, Jared, have pitched in.
Therrien heard the news before Legare could officially tell anyone.
“She comes to the door and she’s ready to burst,” Therrien said.
Beach said it’s been great to see their friend succeed. “We talk about all the time how genuine Sarah is.”
Making 800 minis takes 160 yards of fabric carefully cut into 2,400 pieces, each married to a piece of interface to stiffen construction.
“Forty-eight-hundred pieces will be hit by an iron by one of my amazing friends,” Legare said. “My memere is waiting in the wings. She’s a seamstress; she’s like, ‘Bring me stuff to sew!’”
Legare, a 1998 Lewiston High School grad, started her company two years ago after making purses for friends. She named it after her daughters, Ellie, 5, and Anna, 7. Son Jaden is 10.
Legare is tucking a postcard-sized bio and a business card into the flap of each list taker. She said she saw a boost of orders as soon as she posted her news on Facebook. Legare can’t be sure what will happen once celebs open their bags, but it could be very good for business.
If approved, she hopes to open the retail space in October or November.
“As soon as the Emmys are over, I’ll probably end up hiring and training somebody to help me,” Legare said.
For the next three weeks, her sewing room, stacked with bags, bolts of fabric and ribbon, will be the busiest room in the house.
“This is my new chair,” Legare said, pointing to a padded wooden seat. “I named her Emmy.”
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