Sewing Seeds for Success

By James R. Callan

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 to the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988.

But that won’t be
the greatest legacy
Sylvia Rempel leaves.
Sylvia sold Sun Ice in 2001 and in 2002, 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 and communities.
Since then, SSI has provided sewing machines, materials and instruction in the poorest areas of Sierra Leone, Ukraine, and Peru. Next year, a project will begin in Democratic Republic of Congo.
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 in April, and the advanced classes in September or October.
When the announcement was made through the Volcanes Community Education Project (VCEP), more than 100 Volcanes ladies submitted applications. About thirty of those have been accepted to this initial class.
Graduates of the advanced classes will be able to teach future classes and continue the initiative.
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 the lease of a building to ensure this Sewing School can continue.
The building has been renovated and upgraded to house the school. Plans have begun 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 make clothes for their family, earn income by sewing for others, or start a sewing business.
One graduate of the Sierra Leone program now has a company employing fourteen people.
A Peru graduate has a contract to provide all of 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 around the world.
Sewing Seeds provides sewing machines for the school, plus materials, along with the training.
When the three classes are complete, the sewing machines are left to teach many more students for years to come.
SSI has Charitable status in Canada. For more information, or to donate to this program, send an e-mail to: or .
Sewing Seeds International half hour TV documentary.

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