Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce officially welcomed Alice Swann’s tailor shop to downtown with a ribbon-cutting Thursday noon. From left, Dick Judd of Judd Lumber, Downtown Development Authority board member; Sue Kazlauskas, Chamber board of directors; Bob Barczak of the radio station; Phil Langer, Leader Publications; Assistant City Manager Rozanne Scherr; Chamber President Dr. Timothy Dowsett; Walter Swann; Mayor Pro Tem Leon Laylin; Alice Swann; and Miss Dowagiac Erica Greenwood.

Downtown welcomes Swann

Published 5:32pm Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dowagiac native Alice (Williams) Swann parlayed a postal job into studying fashion design in California, where she lived for 16 years.

Since returning to Michigan, she outgrew a home-based tailoring business after six years on M-51 South in Pokagon Township.

Her husband, Walter, a boxing coach who served more than 28 years in the Navy, retired from the Long Beach shipyard.

She was teaching illustration when she decided to move home.

Swann worked in clothing stores in Benton Harbor and Portage for seven years while selling watercolors through her studio at the Box Factory in St. Joseph.

She opened Dec. 12 in downtown Dowagiac after considering a Niles location.

Bob Haas, owner of the former Dixon-Livingston insurance agency and Shirley’s Flowers building on Commercial Street, leased her space.

Swann obtained her fine arts degree in fashion design and illustration from the Otis Art Institute of Parson School of Design in Los Angeles.

The 1973 Union High graduate grew up a “country girl who always wanted to go to California. I always liked the movies and Hollywood.”

After DUHS she worked at the Dowagiac post office for three years, swapping clerk positions with another postal employee who sought a return to Michigan.

Swann specializes in bridal and prom alterations, and also provides custom sewing, along with repair work. Distressed denim jeans are a specialty.

As a seamstress and artist who likes to collect old things, Swann enjoys sculpting dolls from paper clay, which she outfits. There is an area within the storefront to showcase her dolls.

The tailor shop at 102 Commercial St. is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and Tuesday and Thursday by appointment. Call 782-2494.

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