SaltWire E-Edition

Not just leather repairs

Sheila Pierik has sewn ever since she was a child


The Makers feature is a weekly look at Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs who are tapping into the creative marketplace. If you know of a local, creative business owner that should be featured email: Jennifer.little@ To read more Makers features,

As the name implies, Sheila Pierik doesn’t just do leather repairs. She does much more than this. Ever since she was a child, the Centreville, Annapolis Valley woman has sewn. It started when she would make Barbie clothes out of pink Jcloths, and then progressed to sewing in high school.

“I was following in my grandmother’s footsteps for sure,” says Pierik.

Her grandmother was an avid sewer and knitter. She did this out of necessity for the family as they were poor in their younger days. Pierik remembers her making her own dresses out of different colour gingham fabrics.

When her family visited, there was always a clicking of the steel knitting needles in progress, making a pair of wool socks. Her grandmother made Pierik a quilt of many scraps of fabrics that were remnants of her plaid dresses, with no colour grouping at all. She had her quilts on every bed in her house. It remains on Pierik’s spare bed today.

Pierik would watch with great admiration every time she visited her grandmother, and knew sewing was something she would learn someday. When her grandmother passed away, Pierik was given her treadle sewing machine that she used until she could no more.

Pierik did indeed learn the art.

In the future, Pierik says she will keep on experimenting with new patterns and try to keep up with the local demand. She will also continue with zipper replacements and other odd jobs that come along and make handbags in her spare time.

In the early 1980s, Pierik traveled to Ontario and worked in a garment factory. There, she learned about industrial sewing machines. And with this experience, Pierik says she knew she could make anything with a pattern.

A couple of years later, Pierik returned to Nova Scotia where she bought her first industrial sewing machine. Now, she has several. But at the time, her father helped her set up and shop, and she was awarded a contract with the Texaco gas company for making uniforms.

Texaco had oil trucks for home heating and trucks that delivered gas to gas stations. Pierik was asked to make jackets, pants and shirts for the eight drivers from the Kentville dispatch. That meant making eight jackets, 35 shirts and 35 pairs of pants.

From there, Pierik’s business began to grow, and she began her business, Not Just Leather Repairs, about 25 years ago. It was at a time when she was asked to sew leather garments for a local business. She also worked on such work as replacing zippers and linings and shortening sleeves.

“Shortly after that, I made bridesmaid dresses, and made hundreds of ballet costumes over the years,” says Pierik, noting how she still continued with zipper replacements in any type of jacket as well. But Pierik didn’t stop there. About 10 years ago, she began watching YouTube videos on how to make handbags. Then she joined several Facebook groups about bag making.

“I knew if I had a pattern, I could make it,” she says.

So, she adapted some patterns to make a bag out of leather, and thus began the love of making leather handbags.

The focus of her business became repair of garments and making bags. She would also do any odd jobs that came along. The need for hemming services, she says, has also grown as well, whether it be pants, or curtains.

Her handbags fill the gap and offer items for sale and a presence out in the local public. She says she gives out a lot of business cards this way.

To sell her wares, Pierik joined some local Christmas craft shows, and soon realized that one of her leather crossbody bags was a big hit. She describes it as a nice fitting bag for your cellphone and a few essentials. “I always seem to sell out of the black leather ones first,” she says.

One of the more interesting projects Pierik created was a custom project for a young couple. They approached her about making a handbag and wallet out of her uncle’s leather fishing vest. It was well preserved, and the leather was so soft, she says.

The vest had many pockets for her to work around. But she proceeded to make the items for them with great results, and they were very pleased.

Recently she came across the same clients and had a chance to see this purse and realized it was the vest purse she had made. It was still looking great, she says.

“It is nice to see my creations out and about and talk to the owners of them,” said Pierik.

In the future, Pierik says she will keep on experimenting with new patterns and try to keep up with the local demand. She will also continue with zipper replacements and other odd jobs that come along and make handbags in her spare time.

To reach Not Just Leather Repairs, Pierik can be found weekly at the North Mountain United Tapestry Church and Market in Harbourville. Then, on Saturdays from June to October, she attends local Christmas shows for the rest of the fall. She can also be found on Facebook under the same name.





SaltWire Network