By Dana Delgado
BERTRAM — The minute Polly Allen peered through the dusty windows of the renovated old wooden frame building now encased with metal siding, she knew she had found the perfect home for her enterprising business, Sew Envious.
“I could imagine it all,” she said. “It was perfect.”
While the building offered many things including plenty of display space for all of her handcrafted items and was in the midst of Bertram’s upcoming historic district, it didn’t front any major roadway or minor street for that matter. Instead, the building was tucked away behind the massive AB McGill Building, the majestic limestone centerpiece of Bertram’s historic district, which faces State Highway 29.
The only entrance to the building that would house Sew Envious was through the alley behind the McGill Building. It didn’t matter to Ms. Allen. It had character and was a perfect fit for her business and besides, the alley entrance would be unique, like a boutique.
After looking in the windows, she walked over to a man mowing the lawn nearby and asked about the building’s owner. He directed her to the owner of Hwy 29 BBQ, the business adjacent to the McGill Building and in Polly’s words she “stalked” him down. Within a couple of weeks, she signed a lease and had her keys.
The laborious circuit of craft shows around the state was now in her rearview mirror.
“It was exhilarating but hard,” said Ms. Allen, who found a show in Katy to be the turning point.
“It rained and the show was cancelled,” she said. “At that moment, I told myself that I needed a roof.”
Her sister and brother-in-law, Reda and Gaylon McCrary, jumped in and “helped tremendously.” Ms. Allen said they rummaged for trash to treasures that could be used to display her unique line of handcrafted products for men, women and children. With a touch of paint and clever design and decorating, the store opened for business Nov. 23 with a line of fun and practical products with a vintage flair — most of them created by Ms. Allen herself.
Vintage-style play stick horses are among her best sellers. Each horse is named and is ready for hours of play, and perfect for a unique baby shower or Christmas gift. Ultra-cool superhero and princess capes for children are also available as are fun and fabulous aprons for men and women; hip, classic, and vintage washable pillows — some even in burlap with a hand-stamped design and zipper closure. Not to be missed are the Dachshund pillows in a variety of prints including classic polka dots.
Weenie dog skirts, caps, “on-the-go” purses, gloves, washable sandwich bags, monogram shirts, and a good selection of practical but cute outfits for little tykes are part of Sew Envious’ collection. In addition, an assortment of other specialty items like Tyler Candles and sporty dog pins are also available.
Ms. Allen said she also takes special orders for unique custom-made diaper bags that have become so popular that she now ships them all over the world. The current pattern has 14 handy pockets and customers can select their fabric.
Custom baby bedding is also available by special order. Orders can include a bed skirt, with or without ruffles, sheets and coordinating pillows and curtains.
Ms. Allen learned her sewing basics from her mother, Marie Allen, and went on to further her skills in Home Economics classes at Burnet High School. Her entrepreneural spirit was fostered by her parents who were long-time Bertram residents. Her mother had a crafts store in town specializing in ceramics while her father, “Mutt” Allen, a Liberty Hill native, was a mechanic who loved the challenge of figuring things out and solving puzzles. He also had a complete woodworking shop and built a grandfather clock that is among Ms. Allen’s prized possessions.
With a background like that, Ms. Allen felt she could undertake a new business. So, when her time came, she leaped with a lot of confidence.
“I’m going to try it,” she told herself. “I’m going to learn a lot, meet a lot of people and connect with the community.”
Whether shopping for yourself or those on your Christmas list, Ms. Allen invites visitors to discover unique, handcrafted items at Sew Envious in Bertram, directly behind the McGill Building.
“Our goal is to provide a garment that is completely unique, and is handcrafted with the highest care and quality,” she said.
Don’t forget to enter through the alleyway. Great gifts, fun and practical, await.
Sew Envious is open Saturdays 10 a.m-6 p.m. and Sundays 12-5 p.m. For more information visit www.sewenvious.com.