Bright side of business: The pandemic is just one more challenge for hardworking seamstress

Lynn Truong
Editor's Note

The Bright Side of Business bimonthly column is presented by Star MotorsStar

Ever since she opened Lynn’s Tailoring in 2009, entrepreneur and seamstress Lynn Truong has become a key figure in the Byward Market. 

“Hair salons, restaurants, residents — they know me very well,” Truong says. “(Whatever) they need, I say yes.” 

Tailoring is Truong’s family trade. In Vietnam, her grandmother’s company made tablecloths that were exported to France. Her uncle was a tailor and her mother was a dressmaker, running her own shop. 

As a child, Truong would go to school in the mornings and help her mother sew in the evenings. From as young as five, she had an obvious passion for the craft. A few years later, her interest in entrepreneurship grew, too.

In 1991, along with her four young children, Truong moved to Canada from Vietnam. She first started working at Dworkin Furs before moving to Market Cleaners in 1994. After 10 years as a full-time employee, Truong was hungry to work on items like wedding gowns and prom dresses — tasks that required a much larger physical space.

Now, 15 years later, Lynn’s Tailoring is located in the same building as Market Cleaners and Truong works with all types of garments, including wedding gowns and evening wear.

Lynn's Tailoring

But striking out on her own was far from easy. At the start of her entrepreneurial journey, Truong was working seven days a week, 15 hours a day, while also bringing up her children. “It was a big problem, I had to do everything by myself,” she says. “After I closed up shop, I (worked) until midnight.”

Truong’s son and daughter-in-law came on-board to get the business off the ground. “(It was) a lot of work, but I love it,” she says. 

The family’s hard work paid off. Over the past 12 years, Lynn’s Tailoring has built a stellar reputation, with clients from Parliament Hill and Rideau Hall. And while the shop has been running successfully for years, Truong’s youngest son still helps out once or twice a week, continuing the legacy of a family business. 

At the start of the pandemic, Truong shut her doors for four months, before reopening by appointment only. She says that, with COVID-19 putting a hold on weddings and proms and the shutdown of offices, her business went down by 70 per cent. 

Thanks to government subsidies covering 50 per cent of her business’ rent, and with a bump in sales over Christmas, Lynn’s Tailoring has been able to withstand the financial hits. However, the most recent wave of the pandemic is proving a little more challenging. 

Truong says that she’s only seeing two or three customers per day, despite being open full-time. “My (kids are) grown up,” she says. “(They) don’t need me anymore, so I have a lot of time — that’s why I come in here.” 

If things continue the way they are, Truong is nervous about making enough for rent. However, she’s hopeful that, by the time spring rolls around, restrictions will ease and offices around the Byward Market will reopen, giving Lynn’s Tailoring a boost.

“People know me so well,” Truong says of her loyal client base. “Even before COVID, people always (came) over — that’s why I got successful.” 

Looking to the future, Truong says, “I hope I can continue doing what I love.” 

The Bright Side of Business is an editorial feature focused on sharing positive stories of business success.

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