When there's no time to sail, at least you can wear one. Sail
la Vie is taking the nautical trend literally. The White Bear
Lake sail-repair company has becomenationally known for making
jackets, hats, bags,umbrellas and more out of old sailcloth.
Brigid Thompson and her husband, Terry, bought the sail-repair
business in 2005 and intended to dojust that repairs.
Then, a local designer for HGTV show "Curb Appeal"
requested an awning made out of a sail. Next, he wanted patio
umbrellas. Once she
realized the recycling potential of worn sails,Thompson was
afloat in possibilities: wine bags,windbreakers, vests, duffel
bags, pillows, totes. At this point, business is split almost
evenly betweensail-related creations and repairs. Sailors nationwide
send their old cloths to White Bear Lake for reinvention. Sail
La Vie sees a bump in custom orders every time HGTV airs a rerun
of the sail umbrella
And if sails can double as fabric, why not food wrappers? Mars
Corp., maker of MMs and Snickers,commissioned Thompson to create
an umbrella from scrap packaging from one of the company's organic
food brands, Seeds of Change. Now, the company wants more for
the patio at corporate headquarters.
Meanwhile, Thompson is working on gear for collegiate sailing
championships and several upcoming regattas. She does most of
the work herself with just a couple of assistant sewers. It
doesn't leave much time for sailing. "I have a beautiful
lake view from my
sewing machine," she says.
Sail la Vie has turned part of its workshop at 4495 Lake Ave.
S. into a store where you can shop the sail collection Monday
through Friday and often on weekends. Products are also available
online at saillavieusa.com and, of course, custom orders are