There is a steady flow of traffic in and out of Jenny Nguyen’s shop, Tailors by Jenny, in Summerwood. She said the modern age of business-casual dressing has not had much of an impact on her business. The shop offers a myriad of clothing alteration services, including alterations of dresses, pants, skirts, shirts, jackets and formal wear, such as wedding dresses, prom dresses and beauty-pageant dresses.
“Anything I can put on the sewing machine, I will sew,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen has been in the sewing business for over 20 years. For many years, she owned Kingwood’s Master Tailor shop. In 2007, she sold that business to one of her seamstresses. In 2008, after an 11-month break, she decided to get back to work and opened Tailors by Jenny. Nguyen said in addition to alterations, she also makes custom drapes and solo dance costumes.
“One dance costume will take me at least two days to make, but I just love to see the finished product on the dancer,” she said.
Alterations run from $25 to $150 for a formal dress and average $300 for a wedding dress.
“I try to be reasonable with the cost of wedding dress alterations. Wedding gown shops usually charge two to three times more than I do for alterations. The maximum I have ever charged for a wedding dress alteration was $500. I always tell brides to come in three weeks before the wedding to be fitted. A lot of times brides are losing weight right up to the wedding and I don’t want them to pay twice for the alterations. It only takes us about a week to do the alterations,” said Nguyen. She can cut clothing down from a size 20 to a size 4 or 6, she said.
Whittington Bridal in Kingwood are big fans of Nguyen and recommend her to their customers. “She is caring, prompt and diligent. She goes above and beyond for our brides,” said Kendall Walker, store manager.
The shop also sees a good bit of traffic from people who order clothing online.
“A lot of people order clothes and bring the whole box in to the shop to have everything altered to a perfect fit. We can complete alterations on the same day, the next day or even in one hour,” said Nguyen.
Although it would seem women are generally more focused on the detail of how their clothes fit, Nguyen said about 40 percent of the shop’s customers are men.
Nguyen is no stranger to hard work and immigrated to the United States from Vietnam in 1979 with her parents and eight siblings. The family originally settled in Pensacola, Fla., before her father took over running a shrimp boat in Biloxi, Miss. “When we first came here, none of us spoke English. I started high school at the age of 18 and graduated at 21. To learn English, I carried a small dictionary with me all the time. The first year was really hard,” said Nguyen.
After high school, she began taking college classes in engineering and accounting. After her second year of college, her mother became ill with cancer. Nguyen, the second eldest of the nine children, and her older brother left school to help the family.
“I didn’t plan to be a seamstress, but when my mom got sick in 1985 I needed to help take care of her and support the rest of the family. I became the mom to my younger siblings. After my mother passed away in 1988, my cousin, who had a clothing-sample manufacturing business in Pensacola, told me she needed my help at the company. She knew I had experience with sewing while I was growing up. I always loved to sew, and my mom taught me how to do it,” said Nguyen.
Nguyen met her husband in high school and dated him for seven years before getting married and moving to Houston. Her husband graduated from the University of South Florida with an electrical engineering degree and got a job with Compaq. “He really always wanted to open his own business, so he had a shoe repair shop in Kingwood, by the old H-E-B/Radio Shack, for seven years,” said Nguyen. The shop was lost during Hurricane Harvey. He still does shoe repair out of Tailors by Jenny and also has an air conditioning repair company, Air Vangard.
The couple has two daughters, ages 19 and 24. The oldest is in medical school at the University of North Texas Health in Fort Worth and the youngest is a sophomore at Texas A&M.
Frequent Tailors by Jenny customer Ava Malone had only glowing words to speak about Nguyen and said, “Jenny is our hero and she is amazing. She has tailored almost everything in my closet and the closets of my family. Sometimes we need it the same day, and she just makes it happen.”
Tailors by Jenny is located in Summerwood at 13176 W. Lake Houston Pkwy. For more information, call 281-454-7997.