Northern Wilds Magazine
Sylvia Galbraith has taken over Heavy Duty Sewing in Lutsen, now known as 47°N – Heavy Duty Window Treatments & Quilt Shop.
Sylvia Galbraith has taken over Heavy Duty Sewing in Lutsen, now known as 47°N – Heavy Duty Window Treatments & Quilt Shop. | SUBMITTED
Along the Shore

And sew it begins

As the seasons change in the woods, a business transition is underway in downtown Lutsen. Heavy Duty Sewing in the Clearview shopping center has changed hands and is now 47°N – Heavy Duty Window Treatments & Quilt Shop.

New owner Sylvia (Hall) Galbraith first began the business acquisition discussion with former owner Anna Latz in October of 2018. After praying about the decision to take over the business and move back home, the Lutsen native decided to take the plunge after 20 years away.

“It’s so nice to be back home and be with family even though I don’t know a lot of the new people in the county,” she says. “I hope and pray that [this business] meets the needs of the people. I want to be here for the people along the Shore.”

Though she has had to teach herself quite a bit about the window treatment aspect of the business, learning new trades and fixes is something she enjoys. A teacher by education, continuous learning is an important part of her life.

“I’m a handy gal. Why buy something if you know you can make it? Buying the supplies is supporting businesses up here,” explains Galbraith. “My dad had his own business as a logger and I used to log with him. You learn how to fix machinery and a whole lot more. A person has to be a life-long learner. I feel like if I stop learning, I’m done for.”

Though she bought her first sewing machine at age 16, her passion for quilting wasn’t ignited until she participated in a quilting retreat with her sister. When she began traveling annually for the October gathering in Lutsen, she began to realize how much the quilters here relied on getting supplies from the shop in Grand Marais. When it closed, they had to travel to Duluth to get material for projects.

“The ladies wish they could get material here,” says Galbraith. “I want to be here for people that want this. Some fabric and notions that I have ordered are starting to trickle in. It is going to take a while to get a lot in here, but I am excited.”

Using quilting to engage the community and emphasize the uniqueness of the art of the North Shore is another way she is making the business her own. Inspired by an artist in Alaska, Galbraith started a collaboration with two local artists, Kari Vick and Betsy Bowen, to make their artwork into a quilting panel. These panels are then incorporated into the designer’s unique quilt.

“I would love to make these panels unique from Lutsen and exclusive for the Shore and surrounding area if possible,” she explains.

Formulating the logo and branding for the new venture turned into a family affair for Galbraith’s family. As her sons had taken classes for entrepreneurship, she enlisted their help with creating a name. During one of their conversations, she realized that her husband’s home in New Zealand is at about the same southern hemisphere parallel as Lutsen in the north: 47. When the name stuck, she began brainstorming a logo.

“I wanted to have the Sawtooth Mountain range in the logo and the water. There is a variegated color as if you’re looking across the lake; there are days you don’t know where the lake ends and the sky begins,” she explains.

Galbraith is committed to honoring product warranties purchased through Latz and doing right by customers, as well as competitive pricing. The individual attention and focus is a top priority and something that comes naturally.

“I like to meet people and work with them one-on-one. I enjoy being able to be there for someone that needs something,” she said. “It is nice to be home and doing something I love.”

The window treatment side of the business is up and running, with a soft opening for fabric on the way. Curious shoppers can stop in and see Galbraith’s progress during the Lighting of Lutsen on Black Friday at the end of November. Much of the shop’s physical transition will happen throughout the winter, with an open house in the spring.

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