South Bend business competing in nationwide contest

NOW: South Bend business competing in nationwide contest

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – A South Bend business that helps people in Michiana feel their best now needs the community’s help to continue its mission.

South Bend Seamstress is one of hundreds of business across the country competing for the 2019 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.

The shop says if it wins, the money would help expand their business and serve more people in the area.

“Bringing that money in here will help build our community and bring more businesses to the area hopefully,” said owner Jennifer Stephens.

Stephens opened South Bend Seamstress in 2015 after losing her job. She started the business in her home then eventually opened up a shop on the city’s northwest side. Since then she has altered thousands of dresses, pants, jackets, and shirts.

The Elkhart native says she loves seeing a customer’s reaction after she changes a piece of clothing so it fits the way it’s supposed to. Jennifer wants to see more emotions like that, so she applied for this year’s grant.

The contest awards 10 small businesses across the U.S. with grant up to $50,000.

South Bend Seamstress would use the money to hire two to three part time employees and upgrade its equipment. Stephens said this would help South Bend Seamstress take on more customers and continue serving nonprofits in the area. The shop offers free alterations to organizations like ADEC and homeless shelters. She added bringing the money to the area would help build the community and could encourage other businesses to open up.

“During the busy season we have more than just two of us can handle,” said Stephens. “Having those extra hands would allow us to bring in more business and also turn things around quicker for customers. As far as equipment, you’re always upgrading stuff. We would love to get a couple of industrial machines in here that way we can just be faster at our alterations and do more things.”  

In order to move into the final round of the competition, South Bend Seamstress needs to be one of 100 businesses that receive the most votes. People can vote once every 24 hours from now until April 1.

“It’s very hard to get loans and things like that for small businesses,” said Stephens. “These types of grants just allow a small business to be able to operate in the way that they need to with either not going into a lot of debt or you know, I personally can’t get a small business loan, so it would just help fund the business and not put as much stress on myself or other owners trying to start up.”

Winners will be announced April 29.

If you would like to vote, click here.

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