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

— Allison Kaplan

4495 Lake Avenue So., White Bear Lake, MN 55110 * ph: 651-251-5494 * email