— For close to two decades, Karen Blackwell-Vickers has tailored, hemmed and sewed her way into the hearts of the community. And next month, she will celebrate 19 years in business with her company, Tailoring by Blackwell.
Blackwell-Vickers learned her craft from her father, who was a tailor. “My mother taught my dad how to sew,” she said. “He took off and made a career of it.” Her father started his business on East Carpenter Road in Flint in 1965 and ran it until his death in 1985. As a memory, Blackwell-Vickers keeps a photocopy of his business card at the store. She received the card from one of her father’s clients.
Growing up, she helped her parents with tailoring but it was not her first career choice. After her son, Eugene, was born in 1989, she knew it was time for a change.
“I wanted to do something that was more flexible,” she said. “I wanted the flexibility to bring my son to work with me, or be able to check on him and take him to doctor appointments.”
Using her skills, Blackwell-Vickers began her tailoring shop before marrying her husband, Maurice Vickers. Her first store was located on Clio Road in Flint. Although the location of the shop has changed over the years, she has been at her current location, 3426 Beecher Rd., since October 2007.
Tailoring by Blackwell offers a variety of services including pant hemming, pant cuffs, tapering of pant pegs, taking pant waists in, altering sport coats and more. Hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Hours are subject to change, as the store will stay open later for clients. She prides herself in quick service, with returns on some jobs in one to two days.
Over time, Blackwell-Vickers has worked on requests that are more than the average hemming of pants.
One time, a female customer brought in a mink coat and asked her to make a teddy bear out of it. Another time, a client brought her Gucci fabric and asked her to sew it on his tennis shoes. One of her proudest endeavors, however, concerns her son.
For his senior prom, she made him a Burberry suit in honor of his academic standing. “We went to the outlet in Michigan City, Indiana and bought two Burberry coats for the suit,” she said. Taking the coats home and tearing them apart, Blackwell-Vickers created his suit, complete with a matching vest that almost did not make it to prom.
“I made the vest an hour before prom,” she said. “He looked sharp!”
Blackwell-Vickers finds herself busy during Homecoming and prom season. “It’s a pretty steady business. I will be busy all year,” she said.
And as her parents did with her, Blackwell-Vickers has taught her son to sew. “He makes extra money at college doing hems and sewing buttons,” she said. Her husband also helps around the store, tearing apart clothes and cleaning. She currently is looking for experienced seamstresses. Those interested can call her directly at 810-733-5012.
For more information on Tailoring by Blackwell, including services and prices, visit the store or call 810-733-5012.