FAIRMONT - Donna Larson and Kay Ebeling have pooled their talents, and together they opened Touch of Country Custom Creations at 214 E. Blue Earth Avenue, next to Casey's in Fairmont.
Larson has been sewing for 30 years and is in charge of creating, altering and repairing clothes.
"I do anything with fabric," she said, including making clothes from a sketch or drawing up a pattern.
Kay Ebeling turns old costume jewelry into one-of-a-kind treasures to sell at Touch of Country Custom Creations, the new store in Fairmont she runs with Donna Larson, who does custom sewing.
Ebeling's talents run toward crafts, including crocheting, quilting, and counted cross-stitch, with a specialty of using mass-production jewelry to create custom jewelry.
"I putter with things, smaller projects; something new, I'll try it," she said.
Their shop will also take items on consignment.
"Handmade crafts: If you make it, we're willing to sell it," Ebeling said. "A little of everything in every price range. All of our things are a little bit different."
That includes her own scrap quilts, which she calls Fugly Snugglies. The clean explanation of the name is "funny-looking ugly," which sums up their laid-back, roll-with-it attitude. Both are informal - "country," if you will - and laugh a lot.
They're not limiting the type of crafts they accept. It can be anything and everything, from purses and totes, hats, quilts and baby blankets and decorative items, all the way to woodwork.
"That lamp right there," Ebeling said, pointing to the windsill, "my friend's father is bringing us a couple other lamps, as well."
The pair have lined up some familiar local talent, including Liz McKenzie, who owned Fairmont Crafts.
"She's raising funds for breast cancer research," Ebeling said.
Karen and Dennis Johnson are also contributing crafts. The couple run a store that sells homemade items just before Christmas in the Five Lakes Centre.
"Ten to 15 ladies sell stuff there, and Karen and Dennis will bring stuff over here after Christmas," Ebeling said.
"Our hope is we'll have a rotating inventory," she said, "so there's always something new to look at."
In addition to reaching out to local crafters for their creations, the duo also see the store as a community outreach. They plan to work with STEP and MRCI to carry items from those organizations' clients.
"Everybody has to have a chance to say 'That's mine,'" Ebeling said.
Their long-term goal is to set up a crafting clinic a couple times a month. Larson wants to share her sewing skills with school kids who might be interested in learning more after class. Ebeling is left-handed and knows the challenges southpaws face in working with crochet patterns written for right-handed people. Larson plans to work with "Gala Gowns Go Green," altering and mending evening gowns for Kinship's spring fundraiser.
With their similar attitudes, the two say they are often mistaken for each other, and feel their talents "complement each other pretty well," Ebeling said.
They met working at Arby's restaurant - Ebeling is a manager and Larson a crew member - and got to talking.
"Arby's is great," Ebeling said, and they both plan to continue working there for the foreseeable future, but all that standing is taking a toll on their bodies as they grow older. Both have dreamed of opening a craft store for years, but neither felt they had what it takes to do it on their own - until they teamed up.
"The sewing will take off; nobody in town does it anymore," Ebeling said. "She'll have no end of business, and I bring the management skills and crafts."
Larson and Ebeling can be contacted at (507) 848-3089. The store is open Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday by appointment only, 4-7 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Visit their website at www.touchofcountryia.com for more information.