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—Courtesy of Melissa Gallic

Cleaning Up

How an order of napkins became a full-blown apron business.

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When Denver native Melissa Gallic began sewing napkins for the Squeaky Bean in 2012, she never imagined the squares would launch a business.

Fast forward a couple of years to a request from Jennifer Jasinski, the James Beard Award–winning chef behind Rioja, Stoic & Genuine (see page 81), Bistro Vendôme, and Euclid Hall Bar & Kitchen. In December Jasinski challenged Gallic to design an apron that would fit her needs. The fabric had to be sturdy enough to stand up to the demands of a busy kitchen but not too heavy. It would also need to have designated pockets for tweezers, Sharpies, spoons, an occasional kitchen towel, the kitchen tool du jour, and a cell phone.

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Gallic created a prototype and then spent months searching for fabric. Once she had the lightweight denim in hand, she launched Union Stitch & Design and, serendipitously, Jasinski ordered 30 aprons for Rioja. Then, Justin Cucci wanted 96 with spots for wine keys for Ophelia’s, his new music hall and eatery. Now Gallic’s working on deep-pocketed harvest aprons for the Squeaky Bean’s farm and kids’ aprons (sewn with pieces leftover from adult versions) while filling a flurry of individual orders that have come in via Facebook. Next up: “Maybe an app,” Gallic says, “where you can move the pockets around and design [an apron], and I’ll build it.”

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