It was an almost literal calling from God that led the retired Joy Tway back into the business world.
A few years ago, Tway, a newly retired home economics and English teacher, was in the process of moving from her home in Alabama to live on the Emerald Coast, where she and her family had vacationed for years.
Tway’s sister, Nancy Skinner, was also making the move from The Cotton State to The Sunshine State.
While packing and unpacking, the ladies received an unexpected but welcomed phone call from the bishop of the church they attend in Florida.
"The Bishop knew that we had been sewing pretty much our entire lives, and he asked if we could put button holes on his shirt cuffs so he could wear his cufflinks," said Tway.
Having taught home economics and various sewing classes her entire life, Tway told the bishop that would be an extremely easy thing to do. "So, I guess the Bishop was our first real client."
Realizing the potential, Tway, Skinner and longtime family friend Kim Hall joined forces and started their first business — Sew What Destin.
"We were retired and bored, plus we all sold our big houses and we were living in small condos and our sewing machines were taking over, so we needed a workshop anyway," joked Tway of the three large industrial sewing machines, multiple smaller machines, countless bolts of fabric and hundreds of spools of thread that were taking up too much room in their new, smaller condos.
Tway said the best part about opening the business is that it's a family affair. "Everyone helps when we need them, even the grandsons and sons when we have a big order or shows."
In an interview with The Log, Tway said that although Hall isn't blood family, "she has always been one of my children."
"Years ago, when my son was in high school, Hall and my son used to date, so that’s how we met originally," said Tway.
Tway said even though the teen romance didn't work out, the families have kept in touch throughout the years.
"So, a few years ago when I had surgery I asked Hall to come to Destin to take care of me until I felt better, and to see if she liked the area," Tway said.
The rest is kind of history, said Tway. "We've all been sewing in some way our entire lives and we all have our own areas."
Hall is the shops upholstery and drapery expert, Skinner typically sticks to the intricate embroidery on children’s clothing such as christening gowns and Tway does more of the teenage and adult clothing.
"We all help each other out, though." said Tway.
The ladies of Sew What can embroider upholster and sew pretty much anything — quickly. "Bring it to us today, you'll have it back tomorrow. We'll put stitches in anything . . . as long as it's not tied down," said Tway.
Everything from hospital scrubs to hats, and reupholstering your favorite old chair or livening up your dull living room with new drapery, the ladies can, and will do it, happily.
"This is our calling, we truly love doing this, it really doesn't feel like a job to us," said Tway.
Sew What is in the Palmetto Plaza at 127 Harbor Blvd., 6B, you can reach them at 460-4232 or 585-9031 or visit them at sewwhatdestin.com