One unit at Kanab Mini-Storage has more activity going on than the others. Sew what, you say?

Seamstress and costume designer Claudia Villa runs her custom sewing business from unit number 18, located at 772 E. Chinle Drive in Kanab. While that may seem somewhat odd, Villa said the location worked out for her, killing two birds with one stone.

“When I moved to Kanab, I rented one of the storage units for my equipment,” explained Villa. “Then the owner asked me to manage the units, so I just set up shop there.”

Villa moved to Kanab after living in Phoenix, Ariz. for 40 years. She sold heavy equipment, such as weigh scales, for a business she and her ex-husband owned. “I was a good salesman.”

But sewing was her passion. “My mom taught me to sew when I was young, and I just always enjoyed it. I had the ability that if someone told me what they wanted as a costume or outfit, I could come up with a pattern in my head and then create it.”

She eventually opened her own costume design shop, Phoenix Cosplay. It was a 900 square foot costume shop. Villa began making custom costumes for individuals, as well as sewing for productions at the Phoenix Theater for over 25 years.

“They always made their own costumes,” said Villa. “If I can see it in my mind, I can sew it. One of the first shows I did was Annie. I also did Wizard of Oz for a community theater. Costumes just make the play – they demonstrate the time period and set the stage for the story.”

Villa’s company grew to include designing items for a local business, Imlay Canyoneering Gear in Mt. Carmel. She said outdoor enthusiast and owner Tom Jones needed some of the more complex pieces created in the U.S.

“I was just getting more and more business,” said Villa. “I was doing custom embroidery work – things like hats and jackets. I have five sewing machines.”

But her sister, the late Debbie Judd of Kanab, needed some help during her battle with cancer. Villa responded by taking temporary stays in southern Utah, at one point even working at Pipe Spring National Monument where Debbie worked. “I loved this area, and loved the history.”

She even created and sewed the costumes for the short movie filmed at the Heritage House entitled, The Attic.

She eventually moved permanently to Kanab. “There wasn’t any space at Debbie’s house, so I rented a storage unit to store my stuff. I began running my little sewing business out of there!”

And Villa has become very involved in the community! Besides managing the storage business and running her sewing business, she works part-time at the Heritage House and Heritage Museum! In what little spare time she has, she offered her services to the Mary Poppins production – and they gratefully accepted. Villa has worked long hours making costumes and doing alterations for the local play, under the direction of producer Adreanna Pedersen.

“We’ve been working just about every spare moment,” said Villa. “I’ll have a lot more time when the play gets over.”

If you need costume or custom sewing, wedding gowns or alterations, etc., call Claudia Villa at 899-1864, business hours are by appointment only.