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Sewing Canvas at Kettle Creek

"Mellanie Stephens"

It took Mellanie Stephens a while to find herself. She dropped out of high school in St. Thomas, Ontario, before finishing grade 11 and drifted around for seven years. She finally returned home to Port Stanley, Ontario, and got a job sewing women's clothing for a local factory, but kept telling herself there must be a better way to make a living.

A friend agreed to co-sign a note for her and Mellanie borrowed

$15,000.00 to set up the 'Kettle Creek Canvas Company'. She began to sell canvas gear for sailors. Her little business did well but Mellanie had an urge to challenge her skills and creativity ... "Clothing, I thought. High quality, comfortably designed clothing, made from natural fabrics."

The next step was to design and make the clothes, move from her workshop to a retail store and see what happened.

The 'Kettle Creek Canvas Company' opened on Main Street in Port Stanley on May 24, 1979-a holiday weekend-and the people came. And they bought. "Not only were we launched, we were back-ordered. Our problem, if you could call it that, was solved when we got together with women in the community who had a love of sewing and the skills to match."

A cottage industry was born in the age of high tech!

'Kettle Creek' is a success thanks to high standards of quality fabrics and craftsmanship. And the home sewers continue to be part of the team. From its humble beginnings in a tiny workshop, Mellanie Stephens had expanded 'Kettle Creek Canvas Company' to 60 stores across Canada, employing 225 people.

Unfortunately the current recession coupled with too rapid expansion has created severe financial pressure on Mellanie’s company. On March 18/91 creditors approved a reorganization plan that will close 19 of her stores.

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