Photo by Madoline Markham.
Sew Sheri owner Sheri Corey with a selection of fabrics her store features.
Located in the corner shops of Mountain Brook Village right next to Olexa’s, Sew-Sheri Designs appears to quietly blend in among the neighboring businesses. Walk inside, however, and one will witness the affairs of a bustling design store, with sewing machines operating noticeably in the background and attendants rushing to meet the needs of a plethora of customers.
“Unlike many local businesses, Sew Sheri Designs thrived during the recent economic recession,” said owner and founder Sheri Corey. Indeed, the design business of Corey has not only thrivedbut grown dramatically during the recent economic recession. In 2008, Corey expanded her in-home design business in order to both establish her present retail location in Mountain Brook Villageand launch an online dorm room design service, Dorm Suite Dorm.
Before founding her design business, Sheri Corey worked for years as a full-time nurse while simultaneously harboring her lifelong passion for sewing. It was not until 1991 when she had her first child that her dream finally became conveniently compatible with both her career options and her lifelong aspirations.
“When my first child was born, I decided that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom,” she said. “I have a lifelong passion for sewing and design, so setting up my own business at home seemed the natural next step.” Fortunately, this bold maneuver soon garnered a large consumer base. Due to the obligations of her nursing career, it took two years for Corey to fully commit herself to her in-home design project.
However, a burgeoning design business, complete with high powered sewing machines, fabrics and staff would soon become a bit much for a household supporting a growing family. As the years went by, Corey soon realized that she desperately needed to relocate her operations from her home to a retail location. “Despite being scary, moving to my present location was certainly a much needed next step, and the actual process turned out to be less difficult than I had anticipated,” said Corey.
With a growth in business size and a change in location, Sew Sheri Designs has accrued a somewhat varied customer base. While mostly catering to residential needs, the design firm has also accommodated the design projects of many businesses. Corey’s main residential clientele continues to be based in Mountain Brook. But the relocation of Sheri’s business to a retail location and her launch of Dorm Suite Dorm has brought in business from across the state and in some cases nation-wide. Corey also attributes this to the fact that her business resides in Mountain Brook. “When people come in from out of town, they are told to visit Mountain Brook, and these visitations help to bring in an intrigued patronage,” she said.
Despite being one of many design firms around the city, Sew Sheri Designs has managed to set itself apart in several regards. At first glance, the business appears to serve the purposes of the usual design firms, by providing a multitude of design options, namely, window treatments, shower curtains, bed linens, pillows, shades, curtains, valances, slip covers and monograms. However, unlike many businesses of its kind, Sew Sheri Designs manages to consolidate the many requirements of a design project by selling a vast amount of the materials necessary to conduct such a production in the store. “My business allows for, and encourages, customization in any project,” said Corey. “But unlike many design stores, we also have right here in the store, the materials and personal assistance necessary to help someone tackle such a project.”
Indeed, the staff of Sew Sheri Designs, who along with Corey produce most of the wares inside the store, will aid a customer on all phases of the project. If, for example, a customer wishes to embark on an interior design project, the staff will not only assist the customer in picking out specific colors or fabrics, but will also travel to the person’s home to appropriate the particular style that best suits their design needs. Additionally, if a customer wishes to pursue a big project, such as window treatments, staff members will give the customer names of reputable installers.