By Laurie Stone
Editor’s Note: The Portales News-Tribune is doing a weekly profile of local business owners who have been at the respective business for five years or longer.
Local business owner Kay Vannatta of Xpressions has been in business for five years. Specializing in custom designing and embroidery, Vannatta feels that perfect timing has kept her from facing difficult obstacles.
Calling herself blessed, Vannatta said she has been sewing since she was a little girl.
“Mom made my sister and me sew a lot,” she said. “We would sew things that were fun, we sewed our own clothes and even curtains.
“I’ve always felt comfortable with a sewing machine.”
Vannatta believes sewing is a gift as well as a talent.
“It’s a talent that is learned,” she said, “but it’s a dying talent because few people know how to sew anymore.”
Vannatta never considered opening her own business until one day when she and her sister Laura were individually purchasing sewing machines. That day, Laura told her about an entrepreneurship class she was teaching at Broad Horizons.
The class at Broad Horizons was in place because of a Carl Perkins Grant which taught kids to be entrepreneurs and own their own businesses.
It was at this moment that Vannatta saw a need for sewing in Portales and opened shop in a small room of her farm.
The home-based business lasted for two years.
“We got so busy doing personal stuff for people that we had to open our own business,” said Vannatta. “Our first customer was Bill Johnson Auction.”
More specifically, the first customer was Mike Archibeque of Bill Johnson Auction.
“I liked her energy, I liked her quality and I liked her personality,” Archibeque said. “Whenever I watched her, I could tell she had a willingness to do her job, and that’s important because we live in a world that’s really fast-paced with mail ordering and the Internet. I like to meet those I work with.”
When desiring to find a larger location for Xpressions, Vannatta didn’t have to face many obstacles, but had some difficulty finding a good location. For the past three years, Xpressions has been located on the square in Portales.
Amongst the sewing, threading and treading in her material world, Vannatta said her most memorable moment in sewing since she opened her business has been meeting the stars of the Fruit of the Loom commercials.
“I really liked meeting them because they’re real people,” she said. “When we watch actors on TV we forget that they’re not fake, but real people.”
As embrodiery changes, so does Xpressions. Vannatta has plans to expand the business, eventually into Clovis.
“I want to better accommodate our Clovis customers,” she said.