Southern Sewing owner Ella McEwan-Franks, 12, learned to use a sewing machine on her own in March 2020. It is now stocked at Invercargill's Somewhat Green eco-store and has just launched a online sales website.

Kavinda Herath / Tips

Southern Sewing owner Ella McEwan-Franks, 12, learned to use a sewing machine on her own in March 2020. It is now stocked at Invercargill’s Somewhat Green eco-store and has just launched a online sales website.

A 12-year-old entrepreneur from Invercargill hopes to make her first million by the age of 20.

James Hargest College student Ella McEwan-Franks, in her second year running her own sewing business, spends around seven to eight hours a day creating masks, scrunchies, hot packs and bandanas for dogs, which she sells online, in markets, and most recently the Somewhat Green eco-store by Invercargill.

Her bedroom has been transformed into a sewing workshop and her family’s garage has effectively turned into a storage place for her products.

It’s organized chaos, with contrasting fabrics, scissors, elastics, threads, and various prototypes neatly laid out on every available surface.

“My bedroom is basically my factory,” she said, while carefully trimming the edges of a Simpsons-inspired mask.

McEwan-Franks started his business “just for fun” during the March 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, never having sewn before.

“I wasn’t sure if it would go anywhere, but my neighbor actually told us ‘you can sell those sacks of wheat’ … so I started making flyers and selling them around the neighborhood. , and that’s where it grew. ” she said.

She set up a stand at the Southern Farmers Market, naming her business Southern Sewing and making a profit large enough to reinvest $ 1,000 in a state-of-the-art sewing machine.

However, it was the Delta epidemic in August 2021 that pushed her business forward, as the mandatory wearing of the mask prompted her to embark on personalized masks.

In September, she introduced the masks to her regular market stock – which by this point had become stalls in several community markets around Southland.

They were so successful that she decided to launch her products in an online store in December, and soon after, she was stocked in Invercargill’s Somewhat Green eco-store on Tay St.

“Someone was telling me at the market about this store selling eco-friendly products and how that would be perfect for me … So I was like ‘oh my gosh I have to email to this person “… Tracey [O’Neill, Somewhat Green owner] has been so supportive, ”she said.

Her stock “ran out of stock” in the first week and she had to come back with a second round in mid-December, she said.

With a career goal of becoming a fashion designer, McEwan-Franks is smart about spending her hard-earned profits, which she has estimated at around $ 5,000 so far.

She’s saving up to buy a new phone to deliver better quality images for her social media and shopping sites, which she coordinates herself.

Her mother, Julie McEwan, said that neither she nor her father was marketing oriented or had any experience in sewing, everything Ella learned was self-taught.

“She’s so motivated… we’re so proud of her… even when we get up at dawn for a Sunday market,” she said.

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