Erie Sailmakers Have Lofty Business Goals

By Ron Leonardi
Erie Times-News, Pa.

ERIE, Pa.

A wooden table measuring 28 feet in length and 12 feet wide is filled with canvas earmarked for new sails and canopy covers, and with sails awaiting repairs.

Millcreek Township resident Kim Yamma, 58, and Erieite Rosemary Briggs, 61, are busy at work in the loft of their business, American Cruising Sails.

Their “loft” occupies about 1,500 square feet of basement space in the Frontier Building at 1640 W. Eighth St. Yamma and Briggs share a passion for sailing.

They also possess outstanding sewing skills, so it seemed logical when they and two business partners — A.J. Miceli, 66, of Erie, and Mark Platteter, 55, of Millcreek — launched the sailmaking business in March 2014.

“I had been thinking about doing it for 15 years but never had the resources because it’s not a cheap game to get into,” Yamma said.

The idea of opening the business was hatched among the four partners in the summer of 2013 after an evening of sailboat racing on Presque Isle Bay.

“A.J. had a business he was getting out of and was looking for another,” Yamma said. “He was looking for another business, and we said, ‘Well, let’s open up a sail loft.’ ”

Their business makes new sails and sail covers, and repairs sails, primarily for sailboats.

The women have also done some canvas repair work for powerboats.

“We’ve had a lot of interest from all the people that we sail with,” Briggs said. “We’ve gone to a few of the other yacht clubs, and they’ve shown an interest. A lot of it has been word of mouth.”

They cater to the cruising sailors, and not so much the high-tech racing sails.

They plan to possibly expand to making racing sails as the business grows and they develop their skills.

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