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I am five feet tall, on a good day. That means most of my clothes need alterations. The majority of my adult life I’ve spent looking for a trusted and detailed tailor. My shabby chic look requires that a professional – with a superb eye – hem it all to fit perfectly. Then, after years of being subjected to botched alterations, my search was over.
I discovered Krystyna’s Tailor Shop and became a customer for life. Most of Krystyna’s clientele have been coming to her for years to fix up clothes for their children, their weddings, their weight loss, or their switch to low sensible heels. Her talent and bubbly personality keep people coming through her doors every five to ten minutes on any given day. She is constantly shuffling people from the dressing rooms to their perch on the step in front of the mirror. What’s more amazing than her never faltering smile and stream of loyal customers, is her story.
Krystyna McLelland grew up in Grudziadz, Poland. In the early 1980′s she went to Austria on vacation only to find out she would not return home for 24 years. While on vacation, her sister called to tell her that her apartment had been raided by the Communist authorities and if she returned home to Poland she would be arrested. Krystyna’s involvement in a pro-democratic trade union had made her a political refugee without a country.
With the help of the Catholic Church and a sponsor here in Cary, Krystyna made her way to the United States. She arrived at RDU Airport with $5 in her pocket, the clothes on her back and unable to speak English. Krystyna worked as a housekeeper and nanny here in Cary until her sponsor helped her get a job in a tailor shop. She was finally able to put her years of textile training and experience to good use. After 4 months, she had an apartment and was working with her sponsor to bring her mother and brother to Cary to live with her.
In 1990, Krystyna married Cary High School Coach, Mike McLelland. Together, the couple opened Krystyna’s Tailor Shop, in Saltbox Village, on Kildaire Farm Road. On the walls of the shop there are photos of Krystyna’s hometown in Poland. The photos are from a very emotional homecoming, a 50th birthday gift from her husband. Krystyna, who came to Cary with nothing, returned to her birthplace 24 years later with a new country, a loving husband, and a successful business.
With a needle and thread Krystyna has sewn together a life full of friends and family. Determination, hard work and passion are what drive Krystyna and other small business owners like her. The fabric of a successful Cary is made from this passion and we all are part of it when we Go Local.