Six Nations woman in business for 20 years providing promotional and workwear

Marilyn Frank [VanEvery] and her mother Grace VanEvery opened G&M Sportswear in 1995, with the “G” standing for Grace and “M” for Marilyn. It has been a long journey through clothes and thread, and 20 years later Marilyn still stands proud behind quality products with your name on them.

That’s right, her clothes and goods can literally have your name on them!  Marilyn is the owner and operator of G&M Sportswear located at 583 Mohawk Road.

Grace, Marilyn’s mother, always sewed with Marilyn, and it became a hobby they did together – a ritual between mother and daughter. Grace had always mentioned turning their useful skill and hobby into a business. Marilyn’s husband and children constructed the building where the shop still stands today, using her brother’s design.

The store had only been open a few short months when Grace’s health took a turn for the worse. Marilyn turned her attention to caring for her mother, but sadly Grace never recovered and within a few months, joined her late husband.

After her mother’s passing, it was hard for Marilyn to get back into sewing, and as a mother of five herself, she could not take time off work to grieve. She found it was emotionally difficult to continue operating a business based around sewing, so she decided to diversify her business to give herself a break.

Marilyn started producing promotional items for other businesses, customizing t-shirts, books, wallets, lanyards, water bottles, pens, jackets, bags and even golf balls.

Many businesses want to customize small products, like pens or golf balls so that they can give the gift to a client and at the same time publicize their own business. This was definitely a strategic business move, as there are many companies in the surrounding cities and towns and not many people offering a customized service like Marilyn does.

Then Marilyn moved into silk screening. The process involves a few different steps and stages and takes up a lot of room. Finally Marilyn moved into custom embroidery, and the demand was so high she had to purchase a second embroidery machine. Marilyn was successful in the areas she ventured into, so as of today she offers a wide variety of goods and services.

If you are looking for high-visibility work wear and safety boots necessary for construction work, free of taxes, G&M is the place to go. The shop is centrally located close to Hagersville, Caledonia and Brantford.

If you are a steel or iron worker you will be happy to know G&M also carries lined sweaters, and you don’t even have to drive off reserve! G&M also carries brand name clothing such as Work King, as well as Tough Duck jeans, overalls and jackets.

They offer high quality socks for the whole family, socks for infants or specialized socks for those with diabetes. Marilyn also makes her own clothing from scratch, like t-shirts or long-johns for those cold winter nights.

Businesses can customize their work shirts or order promotional t-shirts through Marilyn. She has many designs to choose from if you are looking to personalize a gift, including images of bear paws, wolves and deer, or even just adding someone’s name to one of her many t-shirts.

She carries hunting gear which has also become more popular over the years, “I increased my camo clothing because of the resurgence of people wanting it.”

We asked Marilyn to offer some words of experience for anyone looking to start a business. “Be your own person. Trust your instincts. Don’t let anyone take advantage of you. Owning and managing a business isn’t always easy but you will learn from all your mistakes. I learned to be stronger and I learned to persevere. I’m happy I’ve made many good friends over the years. All along the line there have been people who have helped me, maybe without even knowing it.”

Marilyn’s technical skills have greatly improved over time, “I admire people that can sit at a computer all day long, hats off to them. I’m lucky to have my daughter show me stuff on the computer I wasn’t even aware of. Before, I was scared that I’d hit a button and ruin everything, so I’ve come a long way with technology.”

Marilyn views her whole space as her home away from home, complete with bathroom, kitchen, living room and work stations. Marilyn sometimes wonders if this business really was a dream of her mothers or if her mother wanted Marilyn to have a secure future after she was gone, or perhaps that it was a bit of both; to earn a livelihood all while doing something she loved.

Either way there is great pride seen in Marilyn’s smile, standing tall beside her business. “I know that my mother would be so proud. I’m so grateful for the customers that hung in with me throughout the years.” This October will mark G&M’s 20th year in business, so come on by and support a long standing community business!

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