Many things have changed in the clothing industry over the last 50 years, but for Stephan Sanders, staying true to a high-quality standard of tailoring has kept his clothier business thriving.
A passion for the industry came early for Sanders, who began his career at Bruce Tinsley’s Men’s Wear in Bedford, Indiana, while still in high school in 1970. From there — after studying business and accounting at Lockyear College of Business — he would become the men’s clothing buyer for Levinson’s, Strouses’, and the popular deJong’s department store. Over the years at deJong’s, his expertise brought him to the position of merchandise manager for other affiliated stores in the region.
When the store closed in 2003, Sanders was not ready to let go of his career in the industry.
“There’s a lot of great product out there that can be purchased, but if it’s not properly tailored, it doesn’t mean anything to the client,” says Sanders. “Our business, since we represent this niche, is still growing.”
And that niche is where he and master tailor Marla Beaven step in. Sanders and Beaven (who has 30 years of tailoring experience) met while working at deJong’s and have spent the last 16 years at SGS Men’s Clothiers working with thousands of clients on creating custom suits and clothing.
“I didn’t want to go to another business,” says Beaven, who worked on alterations out of her home after deJong’s closed.
When Sanders called her about starting his own clothier company, she was quick to join. The duo takes full sets of measurements for each client and works through suggestions for their style, fit, fabric, price point, and timeline.
“I enjoy talking to customers and getting to know them,” says Beaven. “A lot of people are very happy when we are finished.”
“Our business is not about selling clothing,” adds Sanders. “Ultimately, it’s what we do, but it’s about building a relationship with our clients.”
Sanders goes beyond his store to help clients as well, making house or business calls for appointments.
Brian Blalock, managing client consultant at Fifth Third Institutional Services, has been Sanders’ client for 18 years.
“I’ve gotten to know Steve and Marla over the years, and it’s just a great relationship,” says Blalock. “Steve probably knows more about me than my doctor does.”
“It’s building friends,” says Sanders. “That’s what makes it enjoyable to be in this business.”