Dakota Farmer

They created profitable businesses on or close to the farm.

August 11, 2015

7 Min Read

Two South Dakota farm women are sewing up profits with a business that enables them to remain on or close to their family farms.

Rebekah Scott Designs
Rebekah Scott, a Valley Springs, S.D., wife, mom and business owner, started Rebekah Scott Designs 10 years ago as a way for her to remain at home with her children on the farm. While finishing college and after graduating, Scott worked in radio before starting her own business.

"I've had lots of offers to manufacture other places or move it to another building. I've always reverted back to my original vision. I want to stay home and raise children and let other mommies do the same," Scott says.


Growing up on a ranch near Philip, S.D., Scott learned to sew from her mother who was a master seamstress. When she was 4 years old, her mother started to show her what to do. Scott sewed all through her 4-H years, her prom dress and wedding dress.

"I would sit next to her like an apprentice and soak up everything I could," she says.

Scott married her husband, Nicholas, while they were still in college. She says that first Christmas they did not have much money but she figured she had her sewing machine and some scraps of fabric so she would make purses.

After that, she started getting messages on her answering machine for purse orders.

"I thought, 'Wait a minute, maybe I've got something here,'" Scott says. "So I'd work in radio and then come home and sew until 2 a.m."

Scott and her husband moved to his family's farm operation where she lives within 50 yards of her in-laws and her husband's grandmother. After going through financial planner Dave Ramsey's program, they became debt free and he said she could choose what she wanted to pursue.



"I launched Rebekah Scott Designs and we are a fully-funded awesome company of 10 years," Scott says. "I even cut my own curtains at one point because I ran out of fabric but I needed to sell something."

For most of those years, Scott worked out of a small office in her home. After having their third child, her husband decided it was time to build a studio on to the 138-year-old farm house. Her studio offers a place to store fabric and finished purses, as well as a large cutting table and sewing machine.

Working from her studio gives her inspiration for her fabric and purse designs.

"I love looking out my door and not seeing a house eight feet from me. I get a lot of inspiration for my fabric design from nature," Scott says.

Scott says her situation is fantastic and just what she wants. She likes being right there with her kids – Augustus, 8, Iversyn, 5, Rozelyn, 2, and Pixyn, born Feb. 12 – for all of their firsts and getting to see her husband during the day.

She says the support she receives from her family, parents, sister and in-laws has been amazing.

"My in-laws just love that I can stay home with the children and help around the farm when I can. I love being able to move cattle in the middle of the day with them," she says.

Scott offers purses, wallets, cosmetic bags, wristlets, coin purses, diaper bags, changing pads, baby shoes and pixies, which are like clutches. All of the purses are her own design and 65 percent of the fabric she has designed herself. All of the purses are named after women in her life.

Scott has 20 employees that work from all over the state. She has seamstresses – one is her mother, sales reps, a social media person and an office manager.


"The vision for my company has always been to employ stay-at-home mommies so they can stay with their children like I get to do so they sew in their own homes. I still do a ton of the sewing myself because I enjoy it," Scott says.

Rebekah Scott Designs uses six different ways to sell her products. She goes to art shows in the Midwest, Etsy, direct sales from trunk shows, 22 boutiques, catalog and her website – www.shoprsd.com.

For Jessica Leischner, sewing also started for her at a young age and through 4-H.

"I joined 4-H and it was just a given – you learned how to sew for 4-H," Leischner says. "My mom taught me how to sew."

Leischner, who grew up on a dairy farm near Hull, Iowa, went to Augustana College for nursing. When she married her husband, Matt, she worked as a nurse while he finished his college career at South Dakota State University. When he finished school, they moved to his family's farm near Parkston, S.D. She started working at the hospital in Parkston as a nurse.

Three years ago Leischner decided she wanted to stay home with her kids so her sewing hobby turned into her job. She ran Rellabel, the business she named after her three children, Reid, Elliott and Isabel, from her home part-time until August of 2014. At that time she moved into her own space on Main Street in Parkston.

Leischner feels her business has grown more now that she has moved it to town. She says she is more available to her customers. It also works out well with her kids' schedules since she drops them off at school, goes to work and then picks them up from school and goes home.

She says it was a challenge having her business at their farm 10 miles away from the town of about 1,400. Most people did not want to drive out to her house for a $5 alteration.


"The challenge was how do I get the people to come to me. Coming to town was a way to do that," Leischner says.

At Rellabel, Leischner started out making hats, then she started taking custom orders for other articles and doing alterations. Today she continues to make hats and started making kids teepees last fall. The teepees were something she could not work on at her home because of the amount of fabric that needed to be cut.

"I was in my house in a small bedroom. I don't know how I would have cut the fabric, where I would have stored the fabric," she says.

Leischner markets her hand-crafted items by going to art shows in the region. Her kids help her prepare for the shows by helping pack the hats, tagging the hats and getting her shopping bags ready.

In addition to her teepees and hats, Leischner also offers children's parties at her shop. She recently took over the tuxedo rental business from another woman in town.

Leischner says her family's support has been a big part of her success in growing her business. She also says the community of Parkston has been very supportive and she enjoys working with the other young women who have opened businesses in Parkston recently.

Leischner suggests to other farm women who have been toying with starting their own business to just do it.

"Just do it, otherwise you'll just wait until fill in the blank. If you want to be content and make it work for you, sometimes you just have to do it," Leischner says.

She warns them to be prepared that their lifestyle might change.

"Our lifestyle changed so I wouldn't have to take out a loan. We don't go out to eat, maybe once a month," she says.

For farm women who want to start their own business, Scott suggests being clear about what their vision is and their limitations. She also suggests networking with other entrepreneurs where they live.

Scott feels fortunate to be able to have a career while staying home with her babies.

"I couldn't do any of this without a God that sees that it's possible. He's allowed me to stay home and allowed me to witness all the firsts in my little ones and to use whatever gifts and talents that he has given me to bless others," Scott says. "If I can encourage other women to do the same and raise their children and praise God with talents, then I'm doing the right thing."

Sweeter writes from Worthing, S.D.

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