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January 26, 2013

From shoes and soot to stitches, traditional vocations thrive

Local practitioners talk about their careers


“I would bet that no less than 90 percent of those incidents (would have been avoided) if owners allowed farriers to do their job,” Tessier said.

Nevertheless, Tessier continues to trim and shoe horses because of the satisfaction he gains from helping these large, powerful and beneficial animals stay healthy. “I get to see horses that are anything from mildly sore to nearly crippled. When I leave, (a suffering) horse has a visible improvement. To give that kind of care with instant results is a real boost for my day.”

It was necessity as well as passion that led Cathy Coan, sole proprietor of Mountainway Dress and Decorator in Oneonta, to take up dressmaking in high school.

“My clothing allowance wasn’t big enough, so I started dressmaking for myself,” Coan said. “Dressmaking is my first love.”

Coan began to study sewing in middle school, but she credits her mother with being her “first influence” in sewing.

“My mother made a lot of our clothes. I saw what could be done,” Coan said. Her mother also sewed slipcovers for furniture and made other home décor items as well. “She taught and inspired me,” Coan said.

As she and her husband raised their children in Ridgewood, N.J., Coan took in sewing to supplement the family income while her husband pursued studies in library science. They moved to Maryland, where Coan “kept it going,” and when the family moved to Oneonta, Coan decided to “establish a formal business” in 1998.

“Word of mouth is mainly how it’s grown,” Coan said.

When the Coans built their home in Oneonta, they included a sun-filled sewing studio, in which Coan does bridal gown alterations, as well as home décor work such as slipcovers, curtains and valances. As for dressmaking, Coan said, “There isn’t that much call for it because it costs too much money.” 

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