There may be no such thing as one-size-fits-all, but there can definitely be a perfect fit.
For LeeAnn and Wade Waddell, it’s Prior Lake, which houses both their home and a successful business.
LeeAnn’s Custom Fit, a full-service tailor shop, is known for superb workmanship, attention to detail, and customer service. But LeeAnn brings another element to her business: a sincere respect for people, especially uniformed personnel.
“I have been providing Twin Cities area residents exceptional tailoring from the same Prior Lake location for 27 years,” she tells us. “But I have been altering clothes for a lot longer than that.
Being tall and slender, LeeAnn understood at an early age that ready-made clothes are not always ready to wear since they are designed around an ideal body type. By making thoughtful alterations, she saw the improvement in her own clothes and naturally wanted to expand this skill to help others.
“In seventh grade, I loved home economics and decided to become a teacher,” she said. Yet, teaching these skills in a classroom setting didn't tap into her entrepreneurial spirit or her desire to be a stay-at-home mom.
"Wade and I were college sweethearts," LeeAnn sad. "After we got married I wanted the freedom to stay home for our children as well as get involved with my business. When our children were young, we moved to Prior Lake and have been here ever since."
“My mom and my husband truly were the ones that encouraged me to go after my dreams. My mom knew my heart and understood the business plan that I had developed: to keep the shop in or adjacent to our home. She passed away three years ago, yet her spirit keeps shining in me. My husband remains the daily support and encouragement that I needed to face this new endeavor and all the bumps on my journey.”
The couple have been married for 39 years and while their adult children now have children of their own, she said, “they still consider this ‘home.’ Prior Lake has been the best place to raise our family.”t
It was also the best location for her business which has become the go-to place for anyone who understands the difference profession- tailored clothing makes.
Over the years, LeeAnn has altered the focus of her business to reflect both her passion for this work and the needs of her patrons.
“After teaching for a while, I made custom wedding dresses from scratch, although I no longer work on women’s formalwear,” she said. Her role as mom led her in a different direction.
“Our son got involved with Civil Air Patrol which is an Air Force civilian auxiliary organization,” LeeAnn said. “I wanted to support his dream of becoming a pilot, so I sewed patches on his shirts when needed.”
Her skill and attention to the specific requirements for the placement of the patches got noticed by other families who requested her help. This led her into a new direction with working on uniforms for men and women in all five branches of the military as well as police and civil service personnel.
“I eventually received a contract with the Army Air Force Exchange Service out of Fort Snelling which lasted 10 years. During this time our son joined the Army and I still sew his formal uniforms.”
Today, she works out of her shop which is adjoined to the family home. “I had been working a lot of hours each week and wanted to have more control of my life. My priority has always been to family and having the shop here at home makes me happy,” she said.
And she makes her clients happy too. She works by appointment only and gives everyone her undivided attention.
She is best known for her work with military and police uniforms.
“When our children were little, I would always tell them to thank a person in uniform,” she said.
Today, LeeAnn continues that show of respect as she masterfully works on uniforms with the necessary precision.
“Each branch of the military has exact regulations for the placement and alignment of the insignia,” she explains.
Currently, her work is predominantly focused on where her heart is: serving members of the military, police, and civil service.
“They are number one in the shop every week and sometimes that is my entire week,” she said. “While I do have non-uniform clients, they may have to wait a bit longer for services.”
This is her way to pay tribute to the peacekeepers. Her website captures her feelings about the important work of the country’s uniformed personnel.
"They serve far from home, often in extreme circumstances, to guard fragile peace processes, to help build and strengthen national capacities, and to protect civilians here at home." shares LeeAnn.
And in her own shop, she uses her time and talents to serve these special people. Her respect for uniformed personnel is also personal, since she is a military mother.
LeeAnn has the empathy and understanding to see beyond the uniform to the person who wears it.
“I was asked to alter a uniform for a disabled veteran who was wheelchair-bound,” she reminisces. “He was going to be a speaker at an event. I remade his uniform as well as sewed on the necessary patches and the braids. When he saw the finished work, he had a tear in his eye as he remembered the glory and honor that the uniform represented.”
For LeeAnn and Wade Waddell, Prior Lake reflects their wonderful life together, as parents and, now, grandparents. Every moment in time is like a stitch that sews their story together.
“We live in a wonderful neighborhood,” LeeAnn said. “Everyone is incredibly supportive.
Since I work on the uniforms of police, firefighters and EMS personnel, our driveway may have police cars or SWAT team vehicles parked here. But the neighbors know not to be alarmed; it’s only me meeting with a client!”
Sometimes, all the pieces come together for a perfect fit, and that is true for the Waddell family. For LeeAnn and Wade, no alterations are needed.