Sustainable Business Practices

Sustainable Business Practices

Multiple Revenue Streams while Building Community


– Case Description

TCould you imagine losing everything in a fire including all your products and your customer lists?

That’s what happened to Montavilla Sewing Centers in 1996 and they decided to rebuild from scratch. We met the owner while taking the Small Business Management & Marketing Class at the SBDC and didn’t look back for thirteen years of working together!

Doing initial research on how to attract customers as all their customer lists were lost in the fire, we realized during the years it took to rebuild their store, many customers had started going to the big box stores who were promoting cheap sewing machines.

Now was our time to communicate what made Montavilla Sewing Center special and why sewers could benefit from shopping with them. This was 1998. I designed a newsletter/magazine and promoted the concept of a sewing community of classes, events, and programs. The intention was that customers could engage with them more often then just when they needed to buy a machine or get thread. Then, we began to update their series of ads to develop the brand.

In addition, we scheduled specific sales, events, and programs to bring in specific kinds of customers. We wrote and produced award-winning radio, print, and TV ads to attract the younger generations leading to sustainability.

Coming across a unique idea at a trade show while working with another client Digimarc, I had an idea on how to embed their imaging process into photos and integrate it into unique coupons on the Magazine. This attracted thousands of customers to their store with the ability to win a sewing machine or a chance for 20%, 30%, or 40% off on their purchase! Our incredible results from these promotions provided much needed feedback leading Digimarc to go onto create watermarks that are now used by US secret services. Later we adjusted the design using barcodes and QR codes still with excellent results.

Could you imagine getting thousands of customers and lines out the door, just from a unique promotion? 

All this success led to us integrating their branding and colors into the interior of their stores, creating a Sales Advantage Plan, worked on pricing structures, and helping with training staff when promotions were coming out. 

The website design we created in 2000 had a back-end intranet and class registration system to manage classes, clubs, and events and be in touch with their customers. This site design lasted for 18 years! 

In the time we were working with Montavilla Sewing Centers, they expanded to five locations and increased their revenues.

What came next was incredible. Not were their community of customers deeply connected, the owner reported that he had more time to do what he wanted and spend more time with his family. I realized that this truly was the best success of all!

Montavilla Sewing Center is still to this day recognized as one of the top sewing retailers in the world by companies like Viking, Pfaff, BabyLock, Janome and many Associations! And the owner has been able to donate money and time to non-profit organizations that empower women.



In summary, we learned a lot from short-term programs for specific results and long-range planning for sustainability. I learned a lot about how to price products, create coupons and offers to attract specific people, and how to integrate all to create a strong brand.

Bringing customers in to purchase products whether online or in a store is absolutely essential to business success. Innovative ideas, simple communications, and thought-out colors and design add to attracting the ideal customers. 



Awareness: Differentiate or niche to stand out.


Plan: Use creativity and innovation to plan programs and attract customers.


Create: Design unique offers with ongoing programs.


Analyse: Plan ahead, learn from past, and go beyond trends.


Results: Communicate and share so that together we continue to serve.

Final Result

It is fun to inspire creativity, while building community.

All it takes
is to START.