Alesa Hintz never really meant to go into the clothing alterations business. It just sort of happened.
Now, after six and a half years as the owner of Jael’s Creations on Highway 99E, Hintz is announcing her store will not reopen from the Covid-19 shutdown.
The shutdown itself had little to do with the decision, beyond that it did give her ample time for reflection and soul searching.
“The shutdown allowed me the time to think about it, but we’re not closing because of the shutdown,” she said. “It just gave me the opportunity to realize it’s time.”
Her journey as a professional seamstress started six or seven years ago, when her daughter started high school and joined the Canby Cougar Dance Team.
Hintz was tasked with making the costumes, a job she soon realized would take more space than her home could afford.
They soon found a new home in the historic Bair Building next to El Chilito. The unique name was inspired by the middle initials of Hintz’s four daughters, as well as a biblical figure who was also known for working with her hands.
“I basically opened this business up on a lark,” she said with a laugh. “I didn’t expect it to take off. I was just trying to get my mess of a sewing area out of my house.”
She didn’t do alterations initially, but picked it up as she went along. Eventually, it became a big part of her business.
She was joined by her best friend, Emy Park, who was also a professional seamstress.
“I asked her if she would be my partner in this, because there were things that she knew how to do professionally that I didn’t know how to do, and things she didn’t mind doing that I hate doing — like zippers,” she said. “And she said, ‘Oh, yeah, absolutely, I’ll be there for you. No problem.”
Though rarely seen around the store — Hintz called Park her “partner from home” — her skills, expertise and enthusiasm were key to its success.
That changed last August, when Park died after a long bout with cancer.
Hintz continued to run the store until the Covid-19 crisis closed most small businesses and retail shops across the state, but she had lost her heart for it — something she realized only recently.
“When the shutdown happened, the more I was away, the less I wanted to go back,” she said. “After about a month and a half, it finally came to me: ‘I know why I don’t want to sew anymore; I lost my heart for it when Emy died.’ So I decided it’s just time to go ahead and close it down.”
Hintz’s hands will not idle; they’ll just be less occupied with needle and thread. Her husband, Charlie, has been hired to manage A Ray of Hope, Today!, a nonprofit thrift store that supports Love, I.N.C. and other charitable organizations in the area.
They will also continue to lend their talents to the state champion Canby Cougar Dance Team. Alesa has made their costumes for the past eight years, while Charlie has been the team’s chief “prop pop” just as long.
Hintz will also continue other contract work. She admits the decision was not easy.
“I was very torn. I kept going back and forth,” she said. “You know, Canby has been absolutely amazing to me. I love my customers. They’ve been supportive, and I’ve been profitable almost from the very beginning. It just blew me away.”
Help us build a sustainable news organization to serve Canby for generations to come! Let us know if you can support our efforts to expand our operations and keep all of our content paywall-free. #SwimWithTheCurrent!