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Photo courtesy of David Fox of DFox photos
Mingo and Mee-tah
Staff: Mingo & Mee-tah
In memory of Gertie-March 2007
My name is Mary Ann Calvert. I thought I’d give you a little background on myself.
I grew up outside Chicago in a family of ten kids. We had an Aunt Gertie whom we all thought was just the greatest aunt around. She lived in near Detroit, so we didn’t see her and Uncle Milt, but usually once a year. That was around Christmas time. Among other things, we almost always each got an “Aunt Gertie” quilt. That’s about all we had in the house, blanket-wise, were Aunt Gertie quilts.
As little as we saw her, it wasn’t uncommon for family, and even her neighbors, to pick me out of the bunch of us and say, “That one’s just like Gertie”. And it was true. I pretty much idolized Aunt Gertie and wanted to be like her.
When I was 12 years old, not long after I had started to learn to sew, I made a baby quilt for my baby brother, Brian’s first birthday. It was all hand sewn and quickly fell apart. But I was hooked. Just as an interesting bit of business history, Brian was my first customer after I got my business license.
Quilting became a very big hobby for me. I’d spend hours cutting up scrap fabric and old clothes. I always had a massive “scrap pile”. (You should see it now. I call it my “scrap pile from hell”.)
I grew up and married a sailor. We went through three cross-country moves and my “scrap pile” continued to grow and went with me. In fact, I remember one move in particular. I had all my cut squares sorted out by size, etc. in little boxes. On this particular move, one of the packers, upon coming across all my little boxes in my sewing room, opened the boxes and dumped everything into one big box! I could have chocked her on the spot. It never happened again, I can tell you that.
A year or two after we moved back to Norfolk, tiring of working odd restaurant hours, I turned a hobby into a business. Not that I knew a thing about running a business. After a lot of trial and error, I started building a decent customer base.
About two or three years after getting going, I started getting requests for T-shirt quilts. My initial reaction was “You want me to do WHAT? Out of WHAT?” I thought they were crazy. I soon learned to ignore my rule about using knit fabric in quilts and a, I thought, sideline was born. It has since taken over and is about 75% of the business.
The rest, as they say, is history.
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This page was last updated on 03/14/12.