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Sewing Seeds for Success Comes to Puerto Vallarta

January 6, 2015

In 2002, Sylvia Rempel formed Sewing Seeds International (SSI) with the mandate to set up and create self-sustaining sewing schools in impoverished areas around the world. Here, she teaches women in Peru.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Sylvia Rempel immigrated to Canada and started sewing at an early age, making clothes for her dolls. After she married, she sewed her husband's suits, ties and shirts. Eventually, she started her own company, Sun Ice Ltd., with her eldest daughter, Angela (Rempel) Grams. Two other daughters and a son joined Sun Ice which quickly grew into a national label and became the official supplier for the Winter Olympics in 1988.

But that won't be the greatest legacy Sylvia Rempel leaves.


She sold Sun Ice in 2001 and in 2002, and Sylvia formed Sewing Seeds International (SSI) with the mandate to set up and create self-sustaining sewing schools in impoverished areas around the world. The plan was to bring hope for a better future by empowering women, giving them the skills and help to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

Since then, SSI has provided sewing machines, materials and instruction in the poorest areas of Sierra Leone, the Ukraine, and Peru.

But the big news for this area is that Sewing Seeds International has set up a sewing school right here in the Volcanes neighborhood of Puerto Vallarta. The first class will begin in January. Graduates from this beginner's class will be eligible for the intermediate class to start in April. The advanced classes will begin in September.

When the announcement was made through the Volcanes Community Education Project (VCEP), more than 100 ladies submitted applications. About thirty of those will be accepted to this initial class. But graduates of the advanced classes should be able to teach beginning classes and continue the initiative next year. This provides the potential for an on-going training project which can offer opportunities to many women for years to come.

Mayor Ramon Guerrero of Vallarta has backed the program and guaranteed a rent-free lease of a building to ensure this project can continue. The building is being renovated and upgraded to house the school. Plans have been drawn for a Volcanes Sewing Factory. SSI is working with Arthur Fumerton and the VCEP.

Sylvia will be leading the team in Volcanes, along with daughters Angela and Carol. Graduates will be equipped to save money by making clothes for their family, make money by sewing for others, or start a sewing business. One graduate of the Sierra Leone program now has a company employing fourteen people. Another graduate has a contract to provide all the uniforms for a local school.

"There is an opportunity," says Angela, "to help some of the graduates here establish a factory that could create a 'Brand' that could be marketed to locals and tourists alike. The factory would offer many jobs for graduates from the Volcanes Sewing School." Angela heads up all Latin America ventures for SSI. She has many years of experience working with clothing factories.

Sewing Seeds provides sewing machines for the school, plus materials, along with the training. When the class is ended, the sewing machines are left so the graduates can continue to practice and improve. Those graduating from this class will be eligible to enroll in the intermediate class.

SSI has Charitable Organization status in Canada. For more information, or to donate to this program, send an email to: artfumerton(at)gmail.com or grams.kelly(at)gmail.com.