Sew It Alterations takes unique path to Jenks
Sew It Alterations opened its doors in Jenks Dec. 1, but its owner Mai Lee didn’t take the easiest path to opening her store in Jenks.
Mai’s mother, Ker Vang, got her daughter into the sewing game when Mai was a young child. Ker had learned to be a seamstress also at a very young age when she was in a refugee camp in Thailand after fleeing Vietnam following the Vietnam War.
Ker would meet Mai’s father at that refugee camp and eventually got married and had Mai and her younger brother before getting the opportunity to move to the United States of America in 1988.
“My mom learned how to sew in the refugee camp,” Mai said. “When we moved to the U.S., mom got a lot of sewing jobs where we lived in Long Beach, California.”
In 1992, the family moved again, this time to the Minneapolis, Minnesota area, where Mai’s mother continued her sewing career, while her father worked for different companies.
One of the sewing jobs Mai’s mother had was with the Minnesota Twins and also added tailoring and alterations to her list of things she could do.
Mai would help her mom with her work when she came home after school and learned the family business at a young age.
“Once I was done with high school, I attended Minnesota School of Business,” Mai said. “My parents split, and my dad moved to Missouri and I had an uncle who moved to Tulsa. I went down to visit him and I liked it a lot and decided I wanted to move down to Tulsa and start a sewing business.”
Mai moved to Tulsa with her mother in 2007 and opened Sew It Alterations in the Woodland Hills Mall. After four years of being in business, Mai and her mother decided it was time to move back to Minnesota to be closer to the rest of the family, but after eight years of being back in Minnesota, Mai decided she had enough of the colder weather and wanted to move back to Tulsa and restart her sewing business.
Mai’s mother agreed to come with her, and they moved back to the area at the beginning of the fall, and then secured the same location they had previously in the Woodland Hills Mall.
However, Mai wanted more than just a location in the mall, she wanted a store on the west side of the Arkansas River.
“The first time we had the store down here, a lot of our customers were from the Jenks area, so I wanted to have a location in Jenks,” Mai said. “Jenks is a great community and I love how it has that small-town feel, but also is fast-paced. Me and my mom are the only seamstresses at both stores right now, but we want to hire more and train them.”
The new location in Jenks is at 96th and E. A St.