After 10 years of running her own accounting business, one Richmond Hill resident decided it was time to stop crunching numbers and start sewing clothing.
Shirley Heagerty, who has lived in Richmond Hill for 14 years, began her business S&J Bookkeeping, in 2004. She said she loved her job, but after 10 years, it just wasn’t fun anymore.
“I did love my business,” Heagerty said. “I was able to meet a lot of people and make a lot of friends that I’ll always cherish here in Richmond Hill. But 10 years looking at numbers was quite enough for me.”
Heagerty closed her accounting business and retired in April 2013. But she wasn’t finished working exactly. Now, Heagerty has been sewing clothes for children — something she used to do 30 years ago.
“I used to sew for my children, but they are boys so they didn’t want handmade clothing,” she explained. “I would make clothes for my nieces. It was fun back then, but then I quit sewing.”
Heagerty decided to try sewing again after retirement to see if she even still knew how to do it. That’s when she realized how much she enjoyed it.
“I can put my own personal touch on these pieces — it’s one of a kind,” Heagerty said. “It’s relaxing. If I get stressed, I just come in to the sewing machine and do a bow or start a new project. It’s just so relaxing for me.”
Heagerty said she will look at photos or patterns to come up with design ideas. If she finds a pattern to use, Heagerty can finish a piece within a day.
“I can do several in a day, depending how complicated it is,” she said.
Heagerty sold her clothing designs at the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival last year. She said she sewed every day for three months leading up to the festival.
This year, she plans to sell her designs at the Richmond Hill Farmers Market, which begins in April. She also does special orders if asked.
“It’s a hobby, and that’s what I want to leave it for now,” Heagerty said.
During a home economics class while in the eighth grade, Heagerty first learned to sew. She made a simple outfit during the class. She said once she got out of school, she didn’t think about sewing much.
“In my early 20s, I got myself a sewing machine and made some clothes for my boys,” she said. “Since then, well, it’s history.”
Now, Heagerty is in full swing with her new hobby. She sews clothes from sizes newborn to 5. But without the support of her husband and best friend, Heagerty might not be sewing so much.
“When my best friend, Bonnie Procter, found out I was going to start sewing again, she brought me fabric and brought me ideas,” Heagerty said. “She showed me outfits she’d made for her granddaughter, and I just knocked them out. She has been my big supporter and stood by me.”
Heagerty’s husband, James, has also been a big support for this sewing endeavor.
“He doesn’t complain at all, even when he’s just getting a sandwich for dinner,” Heagerty said with a laugh. “He doesn’t get embarrassed when I drag him into the fabric store, and sometimes he even picks up fabric for me. When my sewing machine broke, he even went to Walmart all by himself and bought me a new one.”
Each of Heagerty’s designs is unique. Procter said she supports Heagerty because she believes “grandmothers and mothers enjoy seeing all the cute little clothes Shirley makes.”
“It’s unique and different, and that’s what we’re all looking for for our children and grandchildren,” Procter said. “It’s not something you find on a rack at the department store. Shirley is a very good seamstress. It’s good quality clothing, too.”
To purchase an outfit, contact Heagerty at 657-3479 or by email at email@example.com.