Sunday, July 29 2 to 5 p.m.
155 Boston Post Road
Madison, Ct 06443
30th Anniversary Celebration:
Thirty years ago, Bettina Braisted started making flags for boaters out of her home and founded The Sailbag Lady in Madison. The business has proved as durable as the nautical flags that travel with their owners across the seas and sport their personal logos. Capturing the hearts of her customers in this niche market, Braisted goes to trade shows along the East Coast and has a customer base of almost 6,500. In an era when major manufacturers, including those that make American flags, have outsourced labor to overseas contractors, most of Braisted’s customers appreciate that design and production are handled by Braisted herself and her assistant, Barbara Ostrander. The true Yankee tradition of having a trade and maintaining a shop adjacent to the house persists for this long-time Madison resident and native of Cos Cob.
On Sunday, July 29, The Sailbag Lady will open its doors to the public for an open house and anniversary celebration. The jazz and swing quartet band The Zingerz and DJ Rachel Miller will provide entertainment, and there will be flag give-aways for adults and children. Refreshments will be provided by Livingston Braisted, head chef of KC’s Pub in Guilford.
Parking will be at The Madison Stock Exchange, 170 Boston Post Road, Madison, Ct 06443.
Braisted wishes to express her thanks to the shoreline community for supporting her small business. A native of Cos Cob, Braisted’s family has been diving and sailing for generations. A former sailing instructor, Braisted learned the craft from her father, who sailed on Argentina’s Olympic team in the 1948 London competition. Her mother was an Olympic level diver. The outstanding grit of her forebears has kept her singlehandedly steering her business through the economic storms of the past three decades.
Throughout a protracted divorce and custody battle as well as treatment for breast cancer, Braisted said that the challenges of maintaining her own business kept her spirits afloat. She was too busy to wallow in these personal setbacks, and, at 61, Braisted said retirement is nowhere on the horizon.
“Starting in the mid-80s, there was a fairly constant stream of work, and we grew into five employees,” she said. “But with the recession starting in 2008, I went back to doing production myself.”
In January, the National Marine Manufacturers Association recognized Braisted’s excellence and determination and awarded her the 2012 Exhibitor of the Year Award for the New York Boat Show.
Because she is an entrepreneur who believes in giving back to the community, Braisted takes time out from sewing flags to mentor children through the Guilford Youth Mentoring program and has belonged to the Madison Jaycees for 25 years.
“I am so lucky to have this wonderful spot in Madison to live and work. Thanks to my friends, employees and customers, my life has grown tremendously,” Braisted said.