Little Seamstress on the Prairie
Does the pioneer spirit still exist? We say yes, and point to entrepreneurs like Amber Rassel for evidence of it. Living in the tiny prairie town of Marcus, Iowa (population about 1,200), Amber began Ribbons & RicRac, her custom sewing business, in a natural way. She needed something, she wanted it to be unique yet useful, and she made it happen.
In 2014 I left my job to stay home with my son full time. I had always sewn and made some things here and there for him, but decided I wanted to learn more about it. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I took apart the carseat cover and made a pattern for a “girly” cover. I made a matching diaper bag and carseat quilt. Any time we would go out, people would stop and ask where I got it. I made some business cards to hand out and the rest is history!
People who live on the prairie are generally resourceful. They make do with what they have, use their talents to support their family, and improve life for those around them. Amber could have loaded her little son into the car and driven over an hour to Sioux City, the closest biggish town to Marcus, and simply bought what she needed. Instead, she allowed inspiration and talent to take over. And she created an adorable travel set that no one else had.
First the Blade and then the Ear
Amber started to get requests for custom sewn articles here and there, and word spread of how pretty and well made they were. Now she finds herself full-time in business. She’ll stitch you a variety of baby items (bibs, burp cloths, teething rings, blankets). Babies grow into toddlers, then into children, and Amber is always ready with clothes, bows, and dolls. When you need something extra special handmade, ask her for help to design that custom gift.
When she made the decision to be a stay at home mom for her children, Amber left behind the income from her job in the business office of a local hospital. Ribbons & RicRac is more than just income replacement, though. What Amber loves is the creative process itself. There’s a lot of interaction with people from the first contact to the finished item. It’s exciting to take people’s ideas and turn them into an heirloom piece that can be passed down. And it brings joy for her to get pictures of her items in use.
Besides custom sewing, Amber provides complementary services . Get wrinkles smoothed by steaming garments and household items. Have some nice things that just don’t fit right? Go to Ribbons & RicRac for alterations!
Then the Full Corn will Appear
The branding process was so easy! Lily was amazing to work with. We started out with a questionnaire about what direction I wanted to go in and my vision. I had purchased a premade logo a year ago, but wanted something more personal that would reflect the brand I am building. And I was part of the process the entire way. I told Lily the color palette I had in mind and how I wanted a boho/vintage vibe. She was so quick and completely understood what I was thinking.
I’m hoping to have a website in the future that reflects my brand. I really want to bring sewing back to the younger generations and would love to offer sewing classes.
As a stay at home mom of 2 small children, Amber’s days were already full. How in the world does she find time to build her business as well?
I do a TON of
late night sewing!
Finding supportive people has been the best help. Amber’s husband is her #1 fan and she can count on him to be honest about things, regardless. He’s always available for feedback on ideas. Also there is a group of other small business moms who have helped define the family/business balance that’s so important.
Just go for it! If you are passionate about what you do and believe in yourself, you can definitely find success! Don’t forget to enjoy yourself in the process though!