BRANDON Photographer Carmen Wilson diversified three years ago after a burglary and a dwindling economy slowed her studio business.
A sewing enthusiast with an eye for color and pattern, Wilson, a Brandon resident, started an online designer-fabric shop called Xo Gigi, named for the way she signs the comforters and clothes she creates for her grandchildren.
She is opening a brick-and-mortar store called Gigi's Fabric Shop by the start of August at 105 S. Moon Ave., Brandon.
Wilson will manage the shop, host learn-to-sew birthday parties and, with other skilled sewing and quilting teachers, show people how to be "sewing rock stars," she said.
Local seamstresses who consign children's apparel, purses and clothing for 18-inch dolls will be available to sew custom-ordered items.
Featured materials include Michael Miller Fabrics, Riley Blake Designs, Robert Kaufman, Moda and Westminster Fabrics and notions such as embroidery and quilting threads, measuring tapes, rotary blades and mats, scissors and ribbons.
Wilson will sell quilt-pressing tools handcrafted by Brandon woodworker Jim Ethington.
Because of Wilson's desire to be environmentally friendly, she bundles piece goods and ties them with fabric-scrap ribbons, lessening the need for merchandise bags. The batting she sells derives from recycled bottles.
Wheeled display racks can be whisked aside to make room for community projects like sewing pillowcases for ConKerr Cancer: A Case for Smiles, for children with cancer.
"I want to create a fabric store that feels like home," she said. "A place to get away and sew without those interruptions in our sewing rooms at home. A place that provides great customer service. I want to stock the goods that sewists in our community need. I want to be the neighborhood fabric store everyone will know."
Preview Gigi's Fabric Shop at www.xogigifabrics.com and on Facebook. Contact Wilson at (813) 376-5015 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Send news of community interest to Barbara Routen at Neighbors@tampabay.rr.com.