A mother of two runs Amherst-based Alcock Threads

By: Izzi Diaz Young  |  Photos By: Ashlee Glen

When the owner of Alcock Threads, Renita Kuepfer, was gifted a sewing machine by her parents for her twelfth birthday, she had no idea the impact it would have on her life. What began with creating miniature clothes for her dolls and small quilts for herself eventually grew into Alcock Threads, a custom linen clothing shop based out of Amherst, Virginia. 

Uprooting from her home in northern Michigan about eight years ago, Kuepfer settled in the town of Amherst after she and her husband got married. Now, she is a mother to two little boys; when she is not parenting, she can be found with a needle and thread, hand sewing custom creations for customers across the globe. 

Her love of sewing and creating was inspired when she was only a child, but was amplified around eight years ago, as Kuepfer realized what might be lying within the details of her beloved materials. Her medium of choice was validated once she began discovering hidden chemicals lying within household objects and many synthetic fabrics. 

“When I got married in 2016, I became very aware of all the toxins and chemicals that come with so many cleaners and fabrics, and I really wanted to cut down on that for my own home,” Kuepfer said. 

With that, an idea formed. 

“That’s when I found linen and fell in love with how sustainable and versatile it is for all your home linens, and, it is so incredibly comfy yet classy while wearing it!” she said.

After having her first son and experimenting with sewing linen, Kuepfer found her niche.

“I really had a hard time finding clothes that actually fit my preferences and body type, and so I resorted back to my initial ability to sew my own clothes,” she explained. “Then I fell in love with the art of being able to take a piece of fabric and some measurements and making something that I wanted to wear and felt beautiful in.” 

While she began crafting her vision and designing her stunning products in 2016, it wasn’t until the COVID-19 pandemic struck that the store, Alcock Threads, was brought to life. 

“I was in the crunches of being a first-time mama and needing to stay home and quarantined. I badly needed something to do as a creative outlet,” Kuepfer noted. “So, out of desperation, I started an Instagram account to document my sewing. Within a few months, I started getting messages about sewing custom orders and I eventually started up an Etsy shop to take orders.” 

Alcock Threads shoppers can browse tank tops, dresses, aprons, and anything in between, and purchase hand-created, stunning garments by Kuepfer that are all custom, made to order, and designed specifically for the customer. Browsers will see that all the listed designs have unique names to fit their personal style, such as a linen buttoned bodice dress named Charity, or linen maxi skirt by the name of Evelyn. One might even notice the linen tee the shop offers with a familiar name of Reni, short for Renita. 

Kuepfer stated that much of her clothing and style inspiration is drawn from her love of minimalism, and how linen is often associated with “simple yet elegant designs.” 

She noted, “Often I find this inspiration from Pinterest…but I also do have four wonderful sisters that I bounce ideas off of!”

Alcock Threads features an array of apparel that is perfect for everyday attire, but can also be adorned for more formal events, succeeding in being versatile to fit all phases and stages of life. Her designs can be woven to fit all body types and styles, becoming the perfect addition to anyone’s closet. 

“I’m a hands-on person,” she explained. “So I hand-draw my patterns with a grading process, inspiration photos, and use either USA letter sizes or your specific measurements.” 

When asked what her favorite thing about being a business owner is, Kuepfer said, “I love being able to work with people I have never met, creating a design I know will put a smile on their face whenever they wear it.” 

She certainly makes her customers happy, having received an average rating of five stars for her listed items. One customer commented, “Renita has a gift, and she is excellent at it! I have bought two dresses and they are both some of my favorite pieces I own.” 

Another remarked, “Reni works really hard to make sure you are satisfied with her garments and willing to make changes until you are happy.”

Kuepfer had a goal, a plan to execute her vision, and much help along the way. Kuepfer now operates as a mother and small business owner—two full-time jobs that aren’t for the faint of heart. With much dedication, an immense passion for what she does, and the support of a happy clientele behind her, Kuepfer’s dreams have come to life. 

Her community of consumers and encouragers is growing daily and spans the country.

“I’ve met some lovely local friends through sewing orders, but the majority of my business has come from the nationwide online community,” Kuepfer stated. 

Kuepfer’s advice for folks interested in starting their own small business? “Just do it,” she said. “Find your niche and stay consistent. It’s hard work but being creative is worth it! Most importantly, have fun with it!” 

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