Mitzi Sparks, a seamstress by trade, is living proof people still adhere to skills that transcended our society so many years ago.
Seven years ago, Sparks was a stay-at-home mom, raising three children, including her infant daughter Cara. During her free time, Sparks enjoyed sewing and making children's heirlooms.
Today, Sparks operates Knot Forgotten Creations which specializes in bridal alterations, making bridal veils and doing bridal embroidery. She learned her craft while serving under master seamstress Christy Lassiter.
"I started doing bridal alterations about four years ago through Candlelight [Bridals] with Christy (Lassiter)," she said. "I worked with her as an apprenticeship and she taught me how to do major bridal alterations."
Sparks had been sewing at home before her time working with Lassiter. She credits her mentor with giving her the confidence needing to go out on her own.
"Once she taught me those skills, it became apparent I fulfilled a niche in a high demand market," she said. "Christy called me one day and told me I needed to have my hands in this work, that I was that good. She really encouraged me."
Sparks is an entrepreneur who wears several hats. She shares space with the Heavenly Dance Steps studio on Usher Street and serves a dual role while at her office. She uses the studio as her primary place of operation, but also works as the main administrative and public relations representative for the dance studio. On top if it all, she makes costumes for the girls in the studio.
"I was making costumes for the dance studio and I needed space up here on the square, so I went to the director and asked them if I could rent out this space," said Sparks referring to her decision to move into her current location. "I had been operating at home, but I needed more space because Candlelight began referring work to me. Once word of mouth got out, business really picked up."
Sparks quickly realized she needed to approach her business fulltime and what was once a hobby has turned into a lucrative career. Since opening her location in town last January, business at Knot Forgotten Creations has flourished.
Sparks said initially, she often wondered where her next job would come from. But these days, business is good and she is nearing the stage where she can add another full-time seamstress to help burden the work load.
"I'm amazed everyday at the amount of people who come to me now," she said. "Sometimes I look at my calendar and think of where my next job will come from, but the work just seems to come in waves."
Sparks says her symbiotic relationship with Heavenly Dance Steps owner Debbie Nelson works great for both parties.
"It's rare to have a seamstress on staff who makes costumes for a dance studio," she said. "That's not something you often find, especially in a small town like Covington."
Sparks works with brides to fit their dresses and said she is usually the last person on the chain to help during a wedding. Typically, Sparks works with brides about two months before the wedding.
"By the time they (brides) come to me, they're pretty hectic. But I love to work with them," she said. "Once the dress is ready and they are OK with how they look, it calms their nerves."
Sparks says the key to her success during a wedding preparation is working with the entire family. She often spends time with the mothers of both the bride and groom and even the bridesmaids, just to make sure everyone feels involved.
"The dress is very important to every bride," Sparks said. "They just want to know that everything is taken care of."
Sparks has the experience to fit each bride, but she doesn't adhere to a strict guideline when she works with her customers. She says she encourages input from everyone involved, and that helps the process.
Occasionally she has to alter a dress right before the ceremony.
"I have had them sit in their bra, and let me do a stitch, right up to the ceremony because someone put on 10 pounds or something like that over the two weeks leading up to the wedding," Sparks said.
One of the most interesting aspects of Sparks business is what she offers brides after the wedding. She turns bridal gowns into children's heirlooms such as Christening gowns, giving families something to pass down through generations.
Sparks hopes to expand her business over the next year and welcomes the challenge of mentoring a new seamstress and passing along her skills. In the meantime, she is focused on the many wedding gowns hanging in her office as the costumes for her daughter's community recital as part of Heavenly Dance Steps.
"I just got through prom season and that was very busy," she said. "Between that and the wedding season, as well as my duties here, the studio and my business, I am very busy. There's always something to meet my need, so I can't complain."
Sparks enjoys operating her own business and says she has no plans of slowing down, even during the next year which she will have to balance three separate school schedules for her children. And even though she has turned a hobby into a profession, Sparks understands she will always be a seamstress at heart.
"I don't think it will ever get to the point where I don't enjoy this," Sparks said. "I enjoy the people as much as I enjoy the work. I especially like it here in town. It takes an hour to walk to the bank sometimes, but that's what's so great about living in a small town."