Vontries Couture offers a variety of personalized products | News, Sports, Jobs

Linda Harris GROWING BUSINESS — Pat Bailey, owner of Vontries Couture on North Fifth Street in Steubenville, offers a full line of custom products.

By Linda Harris

Personal editor

STEUBENVILLE — Pat Bailey got his first sewing machine when he was 10 years old. She had asked her mother to buy it for her for Christmas, and her mother did not disappoint her.

“I taught myself to make clothes” she says. “I didn’t have anyone to teach me — I just thought it was something I wanted to do. My mother used to take me shopping for fabrics and patterns, that’s when I discovered how creative I was. I started when I was 10, making my own clothes, not what my mom liked. It all started there. »

By age 13, Bailey was working for two major cleaners in Chicago, doing touch-ups. Two years later, she was making ball gowns and wedding dresses.

“It was a passion, I was interested” Bailey said. “I would do whatever interests me. Once in high school, I trained as a tailor.

She became proficient in machine work as well as manual labor.

“From there, whatever interests me, I take up the challenge because it interests me” she says.

Bailey said she can’t remember how old she was when she started remaking hats.

“I started recreating hats that my mother made me wear”, she said, adding that she would go to the millinery store and buy “different things” she wanted to add to it. “I would take the radiator nozzle and put the hat in front and all the steam would come out, it would change the shape of the hat. Or I would tire of one hat and make a new one.

Bailey said her do-it-yourself steaming method worked, “Until once I got caught by steam coming out of the bedroom.”

“I didn’t stop designing hats, I just didn’t get caught redesigning them anymore,” she laughed.

It was during these early years that she also developed an interest in what doctors told people to put in their bodies.

“At 12, I was babysitting and I hadn’t taken a book with me” she remembers. “I looked around the lady’s house and the only book I found was a ‘Doctor’s Office Reference’. Once I started reading that I didn’t like what I We weren’t brought up to go to the hospital for everything – my family used a lot of natural remedies What I found was crazy You’d get a little paragraph explaining what it was used for, what it was used for. was prescribed, then pages on (the side effects, interactions and warnings)… If it can do more harm than good, why bother Why take these risks, that was my question at 12 .

She convinced the woman to let her take the PDR home, then called “every neighbor and family member I knew who had prescriptions.”

“I made appointments with them” she says. “I let them come and told them about this medicine. I just didn’t believe the adults” would put these drugs in their bodies if they knew what they would do to them.

Bailey said she wasn’t sure if the information she gave to her friends and family made a difference in their lives, but it definitely shaped hers. Prone to allergies, Bailey said she developed a lifelong interest in skincare and “to be able to make products for people with compromised immune issues.” She did her homework “study the ingredients, try to reduce” which caused his allergic reactions.

“I have always been curious. I have read a lot since I was little. Bailey said.

She also took advantage of training in cosmetics offered by manufacturers at a store in her hometown of Chicago where she had worked as a cosmetician and started making her own all-natural products.

“I did all the research myself. I had started at a young age, buying single ingredient products and introducing them, until I discovered, “Stay away from this, it causes that”, but as long as you have butter from cocoa, everything is fine.

She also learned how to make shoes and has everything she needs to make her own.

“I made a few pairs,” she says, even though it’s been a few years. “I used to go to a ball every year and make my own dress and shoes to match.”

In 2014, Bailey would marry those early passions—sewing, crafting, and skincare—in her own business, Vontries Couture, at 739 N. Fifth St, Steubenville. She began by sharing her expertise in essential oils, manicures and pedicures with area residents, specializing in helping people with autoimmune diseases when the pandemic hit and people moved away. socially.

This forced it to rethink its business model. She started making custom face masks and was looking for designs online when she discovered new types of design files, svgs and pngs.

Crafters will recognize these files as those that work with electronic cutting machines like Cricut and Silhouette, but Bailey admits at the time, “I didn’t know what it was.”

Not knowing, however, never stopped Bailey from finding the answers she needed. She did her homework and ended up buying herself a cutter, a Silhouette. She understood how to use it and, more specifically, what it could do. Once she realized it would cut vinyl, she got herself a heat press and started making t-shirts.

“I had no problem learning, I love learning” she says. “Anything that interests me, I will learn. I appreciate. I like challenges.

She’s gone from vinyl to sublimation printing to transfer designs onto clothing, mugs, signs and more. Sublimation printing uses heat and special inks to permanently apply designs.

“I’ve been doing sublimation for a little over a year, it’s a lot easier than other things, like vinyl, embroidery and tailoring,” she says. “It’s instant gratification, you see it right away and it’s permanent, it doesn’t wash off like vinyl does, it doesn’t change at all. And it’s fun to do. I’m always on the lookout for something I can elevate – mugs, tumblers, notebooks, journals, mouse pads, coffee mugs, coasters, wine glass coolers, dishes, wine racks, ties, dresses, any type of clothing, even shoes. I’m just trying to incorporate sublimation into shoemaking.

Bailey said you’re only limited “by your imagination and your wallet.”

“Some of the new items I’m working on are lunch bags, small luggage carriers. Yesterday I was looking at a laptop bag that you can sublimate on. Earrings, bathroom sets, a toilet seat, a rug and the rug that goes in front of the sink. wooden panels, Bailey said.

“I do things that interest me – if I buy something, I buy it in my size and (assess) the need. If there is enough interest, I will wear it in other sizes. I don’t see it as ‘someone is going to buy this’, it has to be something I like.”

She admits she almost quit when the pandemic isolated her clients.

“I was ready to give up, to stop” Bailey said. “I was closing down because I didn’t see how I could survive after the pandemic. I had no more interest in trying, it was so difficult. I didn’t care – so I found something I was interested in, sublimation printing. A client stopped by, she mentioned she was on her way to a meeting that was going to help her with her business.

This encounter was with Thrive in Steubenville, a business incubator program aimed at breaking down barriers to entrepreneurship. Paramount Pursuits, the Pennsylvania consulting firm behind the program, helps income-eligible entrepreneurs lay the foundation for their businesses by creating business and marketing plans, providing digital marketing assistance, helping them understand finances and identify and secure funding and networks.

Entrants must be residents of Steubenville and the business they operate or wish to operate must be based within the city limits. They must also meet income guidelines.

Once approved, they are assigned mentors who meet with them twice a month. They learn how to write a business plan and network with other small business owners. If they have questions, all they have to do is ask, and if Paramount staff can’t answer, they’ll find a professional who can.

Bailey said her friend was in her shop, “buying things she needed for her business, essential oils, and I was helping her. She asked me if there was anything I needed and gave me information (about Thrive), I’ve been there ever since.

Thrive in Steubenville forced it to rethink its business model.

“They encouraged me, taught me how to deal with everything, all the things that needed to be in place that I hadn’t learned (earlier in my career),” she says. “They cover every aspect of your business, they encouraged me to go further, taught me how to grow this into a business. There’s just a lot of things you don’t always know and you don’t always know who to ask.

Thrive, she says, gives her access “to all kinds of resources that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford, or wouldn’t have known where to get information if I even knew I needed it”, she added. “They teach the basics of starting a business – what needs to be done at each level.”

Bailey thinks if it wasn’t for the incubator she’d be home, “having fun alone, at home.”

“I would never have reached this level, without Paramount”, she says.

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