ROGERS — Ruth Davis turned her 40-year sewing passion into a unique business opportunity some 23 years ago in a fortunate stroke of serendipity.
As owner of Holy Orders Liturgical Threads in Rogers, Davis creates custom vestments and liturgical designs that have made their way into churches across the nation.
Holy Orders shares space with Davis’ other business, Favorite Tuxedos and Alterations, 228 S. 1st St. in downtown Rogers.
“When we get orders for Holy Orders, we consider that play,” Davis said.
She also does alterations and at one point did custom sewing but as the Holy Orders business grew, Davis said there was little time for much else.
The business started by accident before Christmas 1987 when friend who was a priest visited Davis from New York. He was asked to perform Mass at a local church.
She said he hadn’t brought anything to wear for such an occasion, so off to the fabric store they went and in three days Davis created her fi rst vestment.
Robert Violette, who has since left the priesthood and is now a teacher in New Jersey, remembers that day well.
“The vestment she made was white - big, full and flowing,” he said. “I still have it and still show it off .”
Violette took his vestment back to New York and told other priests where he got it. Word-ofmouth spread and Davis’ business steadily grew over the next two decades.
Davis specializes in custom designed vestments and accessories for churches, priests and deacons. She has one worker, Betty Rolinak, who helps with appliques and sewing. Davis also considers Rebecca Summerlin a part-time worker since the pair travel together to conventions.
The last two years have been the busiest for Holy Orders, and Davis thinks this year is going to be the best.
“I think as word continues to spread about her business, she will continue to grow,” said the Rev. Shaun Wesley, pastor at St. Elizabeth in Eureka Springs and St. Anne’s in Berryville.
Word-of-mouth still plays a big part in Holy Orders success, but Davis has hit religious conventions the past four years, started her website three years ago and launched a Facebook site early this summer.
“Since the website went up, I’ve been amazed by the calls,” she said.
“People say they were just looking online when they come across my site, and evidently they like what they see.”
Most of her business is split between Catholic andEpiscopal churches.
The majority of the projects completed at Holy Orders leave the area, and Davis is working on pieces bound for churches in Pennsylvania and Michigan. Davis keeps a list of her orders on a white board in the back of her store.
“I told her if business keeps up she is going tohave to get another marker board,” Wesley said.
Prices vary depending on the complexity of the job, but many vestments cost about $900.
Davis said price is one of her advantages because she can undercut competition from large companies that sell from catalogues. Davis’ work is all original.
“The key with my stuff is that it is custom. It’s made how you want it,” she said. “That’s the best thing I have going for me.”
Wesley said her work is as good, if not better, than the big companies thatmake vestments.
“It’s not a common thing for a small-business owner to make vestments,” he said. “I support her and her business and will continue to do so.”
That’s good news for Davis who has no plans to stop anytime in the near future.
“I am going to do this as long as I can,” she said.
“I hope I can do it for another 10 years.”
HOLY ORDERS LITURGICAL THREADS