Sew What! is an impressive business that’s been growing on Ambergris Caye over 15 years ago.
Now, with two locations, they make so much – cushions, inside and out, upholstery, window shades, awnings, boat and golf cart cushions, almost everything that can be sewed – except clothing.
Here is the office/workshop in town – with the beautiful bougainvillea plant next door.
Owner Kate Vincent agreed to answer a few of my questions…about how she made it to Ambergris Caye and how she started a sewing, upholstery, fabric business on the island. To share what she does.
I just love to admire all the different fabrics…especially the Sunbrella. Sew What! is the official distributor for Sunbrella – the fabric that I believe was invented with Ambergris Caye in mind. It doesn’t fade, it cleans beautifully whether by hand or in the washing machine – it is crazy tough for pets…for kids…for all sorts of outside use.
And taking with her made me think…about starting a business in Belize and some insights I’ve gathered over the years as I’ve watched the exponential growth of the island.
But let’s talk about Kate first. Here she is with two of her long time employees – both for 10+ years, Letty and Sabina.
Kate first visited Belize about 20 years ago – she was working as a Headhunter in California and needed a vacation! Some sun and adventure. And it was love.
She made the move to Belize hoping to run her recruiting/HR business from here. But phone and internet connections in the early 2000s were…shaky at times. Kate spent more than a few hours at the BTL payphone in Central Park.
As she realized that working remotely wasn’t going to work – she was able to focus on sewing – a hobby for years. Kate made cushions for a neighbor and they were impressed and suggested she open a business. She then tried her hand at boat cushions for two local tour guides. She pushed the vinyl through her home sewing machine and the guys agreed when they got the final product – this should be your business!
She was living at 6 miles north Ambergris Caye…15 years ago it was only reachable by boat.
Now, most days, she this is her ride.
That encouragement, from both an expat with a home down here and from the local guides, helped give Kate the push she needed. Kate started on a much smaller scale than she operates on now. She rented a small spot in town – Sew What! and went from there.
Last year Kate opened a large (beautiful pink) workshop up north. Sew What Norte!
Kate and her team consult, measure, design, and deliver for people and for businesses across Belize.
We got ours at Sew What! Coral? WE TOTALLY called that.