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Leather seamstress fills niche on Harwood Ave.

Boutique has seen Village change from sleepy to bustling

Sept. 27, 2011

For a long time, Cindy Hein Westin was virtually alone along her stretch of Harwood Avenue.

Heinsight leather boutique, 7609 Harwood Ave., was the single store tucked away on what seemed like an almost forgotten street.

That was 13 years ago.

"The Village has changed so much since I've been here, new businesses coming and going," said Hein Westin, 54, who also lives in Wauwatosa.

Renovations across the street brought in more mom-and-pop shops and restaurants. Suddenly, she had neighbors for her historic storefront shop with its single wall of cream city brick and almost 350 square feet of retail space.

"It's been great because it's just brought a lot more traffic to this street," Hein Westin said.

The neighborhood isn't the only thing that has changed.

"I've evolved, too," Hein Westin said.

It started in seventh-grade home economics.

"We had these simple, easy projects but I always had to make it more challenging; like, I wanted to smock something and I used gingham so there was a plaid to match," she said and laughed.

She joined the theater department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and then decided to stay, abandoning her hometown of Green Bay to make a go of sewing in the "big city."

Hein Westin took a bit of a professional detour, making bridal gowns. But the stress and persnickety nature of the work led her to leather working. At Heinsight, she makes shearling and leather coats and jackets, leather skirts and pants, belts, handbags and fur accessories.

She does it all behind a wall of drapes, hung to conceal her work room and her four sewing machines, including her very first - a Kenmore bought in 1977 - under the watchful eye of resident redhead, Maggie, her beloved Labradoodle.

Hein Westin counts herself among the lucky few who do what they love.

"I like to feel that I fill a niche in the city," she said.

If you would like to suggest a business to be featured in the Business Spotlight, send an e-mail to news@cninow.com or call (262) 446-6643.

JUST THE FACTS

BUSINESS: Heinsight

WEB: (website coming soon)

PHONE: (414) 456-9211

OWNER: Cindy Hein Westin

INCORPORATED: 1997

TYPE OF BUSINESS: leather boutique

PEARLS OF WISDOM: "It's really important to have the opportunity to work at what you love and love your work."

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