My "Empowering change one stitch at a time in our communities" - Lou, Olive Loom

My name is Lou Sharp. I'm a retired hospice nurse.

I started sewing again as a creative outlet while caring for my mother. During the economic downturn, my daughter and I introduced our products at the local farmer's market, and they were very successful. Others at the farmer's market used the market as a tool to earn additional income, many had full time jobs. Women in our sewing classes all loved to sew. We began developing products specifically for women to sew at home, teaching them how to use custom equipment and techniques, and worked with them to make our clothing to meet demand. Women who wanted to work were everywhere. Many were retired or with health or care-giving issues that prevented them from traditional employment. Some were stay-at-home moms. Many worked full time but needed the additional income. Others just loved to sew but were needed at home. As long as we had things to sew, there were plenty of women who wanted to work.

Our first Kiva loan allowed us to buy industrial & customer equipment and to work with trained pattern makers to re-engineer and design our patterns specifically for efficiency and home production. This current loan will help us market to tell our stories, increase sales and demand which increases the number of women working, and to purchase materials wholesale to improve profit.

Working with women is central to our business plan. Help us share our stories. Sometimes it is hard to quantify how much this really helps the women. Some of them are on such limited incomes that the moeny goes to buy medicine, gas, trips with kids, caring for kids, and other things we might consider basic necessities. This is hard to put into words without the person feeling embarrassed about their situation. But their stories are what drives us in our mission. We love people. They love sewing. We hope to be able to replicate our business model in other cities with local farmer's markets.

I'd like to tell borrowers to keep on reaching out and telling your stories. Kiva is a great resource for sharing and keeping the faith to persevere and be brave. You are not alone.


Kiva U.S. Stories is a space to share and enjoy the moving, the funny, the inspiring, stories that come from every corner of the Kiva U.S. community.

Share your story here.

About the author

Kathinka Nakstad