Ever since they met at church, Michelle Duran and Tosha Pratt have kept each other in stitches – they bonded immediately over fabric-oriented handicrafts.
“We both are self-taught, and we would help each other,” said Duran. “We had a dream for a long time of opening a business together, and we finally decided we’d waited long enough.”
The friends received a loan from ACE to buy supplies and, earlier this year, launched Southern & Sassy Designs, specializing in embroidery, screenprints and a variety of clothing, home accessories, and other colorful goodies.
They operate the business from their homes in Cumming for now, with plans to expand to a storefront location soon. S&S has tapped into a large market of school sports teams and businesses that need products customized with mascots and company logos. Personalized, one-of-a-kind items have proved popular with individuals and families, as well. “We can applique headbands and embroider shirts, hats, and bags,” Duran said.
They add new designs for all of their products daily.
“In addition to supplying us with the loan, ACE gave us the information and resources we needed to get on the right track from the beginning, which is a great feeling,” said Duran, adding that she and Pratt are looking forward to participating in ACE’s new Women Investing in Successful Entrepreneurs (WISE) initiative, a program that focuses on the distinct needs of female business owners.
“We’re learning how important networking and building relationships can be in running a business, so we’re always eager to meet other women we can learn from, to help us grow,” Duran said.