My name is Gemma Vigneaux. I am the founder and owner of Gemma’s Fashion and Sewing, LLC now doing business as Gemma's Bridal Design. As a young girl, I watched my mother sewing dresses for teachers, school dance costumes, bridal gowns, police uniforms, and nurses' and doctors' uniforms. She could cut fabric just by measuring the body without using a pattern. I thought it was amazing. I remember once she made me a dress using one of my father’s old shirts. I was 5 years old then, and I thought it was the best dress I had. Through the years, she would continue to make me dresses from scraps. At a very young age, I began to get curious about what she was doing and wondered why we have all these fabrics on top of our long family dinner table. One day I discovered that she was making a dress for my Kindergarten commencement ceremony. I was very excited and began asking questions about how to sew a dress. I was only 6 years old at the time. I told her that I would like to learn how to sew little girls’ dresses someday and sell them to make money.
She told me that I was too young. I refused to let that deter me. From then on, I watched her when she was cutting the fabric and sewing. I asked a lot of questions, but she would always tell me that I was too young to understand. She told me I was allowed to watch her, but no talking and no questions were allowed. For years, I watched silently. As I watched, she began telling me things about sewing, but she still would not teach me the things that I needed to know to make a complete dress.
Finally, one day, she taught me which body parts to measure and how to measure a body. My patience had paid off. Through the next few years, she began teaching me techniques of sewing. By this time, I was already 8 years old. I began to realize that sewing was my passion even at that young age. I started taking my mother’s left-over fabrics and hid them in my room until I could get a chance to go into her sewing room. During my free time on weekends, I would sketch a design of little girls’ dresses and compile the
sketches for my reference. After school, I would sneak into my mother’s sewing room and practice pedaling on her sewing machine. I began to see improvement in how to use it. The first dress I created was when I was 9 years old. I sold it to one of my cousins. From then on, she was my regular customer. As long as I knew the age of the girl, I could sew a dress without measurement. I had already begun to show signs of becoming a great designer. As I got older, I sketched more and more and started making clothes out of my designs from my imagination. I really enjoyed doing that.
In 1992, I moved to Mesa, Arizona, and got married. I began working for a sewing shop on Main Street, where I was able to perfect my craft under the tutelage of the owner, Suzanne Novak. Suzie taught me about alterations, especially on bridal gowns and men’s suits. I then left and began a career in business working with Fortune 500 companies but continued to sew on a part-time basis and sketch designs as much as I could. After a long, hard day at work, I would come home and get into my sewing room and just think about sketching another design and sewing it. Sewing is relaxing for me. It’s therapeutic in my mind. I then realized that I have a passion in life and I had been wasting my time and energy working in these office jobs when I should have been pursuing my passion. After working hard for many years helping to make these companies become successful, my position was eliminated, and I was laid off. I called my old mentor Suzie and began working with her at Suzanne’s Bridal in Gilbert, Arizona. I began to get “The Itch” to open my own sewing business in 2005 but waited until 2010 when I began working with Suzie again and felt the time was right.
We renovated our garage at home, and I used it as my workshop. As I developed my reputation as an outstanding seamstress/dressmaker, I began to get referrals from Suzanne’s Bridal in Gilbert, and my customers referred their friends and family. Soon I realized that I needed to open a storefront in order to be more accessible to the general public. I found a mid-sized space on the Southeast corner of Arizona Avenue and Loop 202 in the Sam’s Club shopping center in Chandler, Arizona, where I eventually opened my shop.