Larissa Martinez was a single mom and a Starbucks barista for 15 years when she rediscovered sewing. Martinez learned to sew from her mother at age 5, but had stopped sewing in junior high. It was the birth of her youngest son three years ago that brought her sewing fingers back to life, and led to the creation of not one, but two new businesses — Rockin’ Wraps and Truckee Love.
Thinking a basic baby wrap she had bought needed more functionality and originality, Martinez took to her sewing machine to create her own. The end product was a wrap that was tapered, had extra pockets, and featured a rock ’n roll design. At last year’s first Truckee Thursday, she had her youngest in a Rockin’ Wrap designed with a piece of fabric in the shape of Lake Tahoe and a heart to mark Truckee’s location. Martinez posted a photo of herself wearing the wrap on Facebook with the caption, “Truckee Love,” words that described how she felt at the moment the photo was taken.
“I love where I live,” Martinez said. “I moved here for a reason. I want my boys to grow up here.”
One of her friends saw the picture online and told Martinez she wanted to buy Truckee Love shirts for her whole family. Two weeks later, Martinez had a booth at Truckee Thursday, and not long after that boutiques throughout the area started requesting the apparel. Martinez soon started making Tahoe Love products as well.
All of the fabric cut-outs are hand-drawn, hand-stitched, and are original designs. Martinez has recently began expanding into a printed line with hats and other items. One dollar from every sale, whether through Martinez or a boutique, is donated to a local nonprofit.
Demand for Truckee Love goods has grown to such an extent that Martinez now employs two seamstresses and one sales representative. In the near future, Martinez hopes to have a storefront and studio where she can make customized orders for those who want to wear their love for Truckee and Tahoe, just like she does.
“I wouldn’t work my fingers to the bone, literally, if it didn’t feel good,” Martinez said.
Perhaps best of all, her oldest son, 9-year-old Nikolai,has picked up a needle and thread and is learning to sew from his mother, just like she learned from hers.
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