By Hadassah Deleveaux (née Hall)
Tracey Sands braved the stifling heat sitting at a table in front of her yard on Balfour Avenue. What she was doing was quite unorthodox. Instead of creating the products she sewed indoors and then selling them outdoors, she was actually sitting outside with her 33-year-old Singer machine – sewing.
Yes. Sewing outside…in the heat.
It was after 5 pm and the street was busy with pedestrians and vehicles whizzing pass. Many passengers perhaps were oblivious to what Tracey was doing. However, as I was driving by and caught a glimpse of her, I quickly found a parking space and made my approach.
I had no paper or pen with me, but after sharing the purpose of my blog to show the other side of over the hill, she gladly provided me with what I needed at that moment.
On the table and hanging on the door of a small clapboard building behind her were bureau scarfs, table cloths and kitchen curtains with beautiful embroidery, meticulously stitched.
During our brief interaction, it is clear that sewing is Tracey’s talent. It is also her way of helping to bring in income for the family.
“My daughter is 31. I had this machine from she was two years old. Her first uniform was sewn at this machine. Just by being outside, I got three orders to hem pants today,” said Tracey, who was wearing a wide-brim hat to shield her from the scorching sun.
Presently, business is slow for Tracey who learned to sew from childhood. However, she reminisced on the good old days when she had large orders from reputable companies.
“My first big order came from Kelly’s (Home Centre) back in 2008. It helped to build my spirit. I also had a smaller order from Jack and Jill (department store). Nowadays, the orders are not in bulk, but I say a prayer and it makes me feel better,” said the pastor’s wife.
Woman of Faith
This woman of faith firmly believes in Proverbs 18 verse 16 which says, “A man’s gift maketh room for him, and bringeth him before great men.”
Tracey has certainly experienced this, but recognizes that in life, there are hilltop and valley experiences.
“I keep going on. I still have bills. My mother taught me not to ask anyone for anything. I am believing for someone to buy something. Sometimes I make a dollar, but that dollar can buy something,” said the entrepreneur, who also sells various drinks in a nearby cooler and canisters of sweets and hair accessories.
Up to December 2017, Tracey was supervisor of the laundry department at the RIU hotel on Paradise Island. However, she left that job to go into ministry with her husband and to pursue her passion of sewing. Together with her husband of 33 years, Reverend Michael Sands, they head The Hour of Grace Ministries located steps away from their dwelling place.
“I’m trusting God to provide. David said, ‘I’ve never seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread,’” said Tracey.
As I readied to end our encounter, I asked Tracey what words of encouragement she has for people living over the hill, particularly those in their youth. She did not hesitate.
“By the sweat of your brow, ye shall eat. Sewing has helped to sustain my family. There is still hope. Use your hands. Use what God has given you,” she said.