Some people are intrigued by something from an early age. Maybe it’s a sport, woodworking, writing or art. They will stick with it, passionately teaching themselves, exploring possibilities, pushing the limits and the norms. Lesley Garrett seems to be one of those lucky few that collided with something early on that enthralled her – sewing.
Although her grandmother and aunt also boast a talent for sewing, Lesley is less interested in patterns and square swatches and is instead fascinated by creating,
designing and understanding how certain fabrics and textures can be combined for that unique appearance.
She left the Quinte area to hone her talent in Toronto, working in design houses. She developed an extraordinary skill as a custom drapery sewer – French pleats,
goblets, inverted pleats, grommets, Roman blinds – she became a perfectionist.
She evolved into bedding sets, and soon her handiwork was used as cover art for fabric sample books. She applied that talent in the hospitality sector, designing, repairing and fabricating high-end hotel room ensembles.
Returning home, and after first completing entrepreneurial training through the Ontario Self-Employment Benefit Program (provided by Trenval Business Development Corporation), she set out to open her own business – Red Covers – to do what she had done for others in Toronto.
She contacted Amber Darling, Trenval’s Loans Officer, and with Amber’s help, completed the application process to obtain financing through the Canadian Youth Business Foundation Program. “Amber was so enthusiastic, says Lesley. “I needed start-up capital and she got the ball rolling fast. Both CYBF and Amber were ready to help.”
And now Lesley and Red Covers is on the move! She is designing new lines from her location in Marmora, including a “Zombie’s” line.
“You have to understand trends and work with them”, says Lesley. She is now shipping Zombie-printed pillows, pillow sets, toilet seat covers and clothing to
a long list of international locations. “I’m really popular in Texas, California, and New York”, she laughs. Her more mainstream creations are doing extremely well too!
The CYBF Start-up Program requires that each young entrepreneur have a mentor. Bill Pharl, an established business owner in Denbigh, stepped up. “We
meet once a month to talk about how things are going. It’s a real key component of the CYBF Program.”
“This business is more than I ever envisioned”, concludes Lesley. “A little bit of support from Trenval and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation is taking me to a level I never dreamed of!”