By Sue Moore
“We just keep our heads down and sew,” said Wayne Julien, who with his wife Mindy has started an embroidery business, Action Gear Embroidery in downtown Schoolcraft.
They do corporate embroidery, custom designing on computer, contract embroidery for promotional products and embroidery for their own walk-in customers. The company has three sewing machines that are nothing like your grandmother used to use. They can push out 1,200 stitches in about two minutes, with one person running the three machines at one time.
The sewing process is digital. The couple can design the object or receive a photo in a jpg or pdf format on the computer and send it straight to the sewing machine. Polyester thread has some static but can be sewed on any kind of fabric. Rayon fabric sews the best, poly isn’t as easy, and cotton that is pre-shrunk works very well, Julien said. The price is based upon the number of stitches it takes to put the logo on the apparel. The embroidery business puts emblems on most any kind of wearing apparel.
The machines have names. One is called Jack for jackhammer, another is Easy because it isn’t temperamental. “I’ve found if you talk nicely to them, they seem to work better,” Julien remarked. He describes himself as a multi-tasking fool. “I like art, colors, and am mechanical so I can fix things, plus I like to schmooze, so the business seemed like a natural to learn and later own.”
It had been owned for 20 years by Yvonne Hackenberg who had a shop at 7169 Q Avenue in Texas Corners. Julien worked with her for five years, learning the business from the ground up. Previously, he had been a facilities manager at MPI in Mattawan. Hackenberg is a well-known athlete in the Kalamazoo area, playing any number of sports successfully. Her mother was a seamstress and Hackenberg was fascinated with sewing on sports apparel. Julien purchased the business from her to be closer to home and bring his wife, a hair stylist, into the fold.
Charlotte Hubbard previously owned the building at 230 N. Grand Street for her Prima publishing business. She convinced the Juliens to buy the building as she was phasing out to go into beekeeping full time. They are neighbors at Sugar Loaf Lake and he had helped her with the yard and the house after Hubbard’s husband passed away. Now the Julien family is closer to their home, with daughter Kayla, a freshman on Schoolcraft’s volleyball team, helping out. Son Andrew is a student at Kalamazoo Valley Community College and working at Olde Mill golf course this summer. They can be reached at 269-679-3804 and 269-372-1500.