When Robert Miller first came to the Alaska Small Business Development Center in Juneau, he had been in business for almost two years as Sea Fur Sewing. Before that time, Miller had hardly picked up a needle and thread! Now, after 2 ½ years of hard work, Sea Fur Sewing has products in 9 fur galleries, 2 museums and a high-end fashion boutique in Brooklyn, New York. Additionally, Iditarod 4-time winner, Lance Mackey (pictured to the right) has been spotted wearing Sea Fur Sewing on more than one occasion!
With all that success before walking in the door of the Juneau SBDC, Miller still recognized that a strong team is necessary for a successful business and that Ian Grant, Juneau Center Director, could be a valuable member as Miller worked on submitting a business plan to the Path to Prosperity competition.
“Ian Grant was a great motivator in helping me complete my business plan” said Miller, “He was highly motivational, smart, and dependable when it came to completing tasks. The main part that encouraged me to continue on with the plan was his belief in my business. To know that he had very positive vibes from me and my business and was self-motivated to assist me was great. It was a learning curve for sure. This entire business venture has been a learning curve and I’m sure it will continue that way in the future.”
Together Miller and Grant worked on a business plan that promoted sustainable harvesting of sea mammals to be used in sewing of traditional native furs. The goal is to research harvested numbers in each community and only hunt where the impact will not strain the existing levels. Then Miller brought his ideas to Fish and Wildlife and began working with them on larger scale sustainability efforts. His plan is setting the bar for future native sewers and determining safe harvesting levels.
Sea Fur Sewing hires Native hunters to harvest the pelts for their products uses only unique quality raw materials to create their products. Learn more about Sea Fur Sewing by visiting their website, Seafursewing.com.