Queen of Spandex finds time squeezed by eager customers
THE MISSISSAUGA NEWS – Jan 19, 2003
It was a love of figure skating that started Marie Routhier on the road to becoming the Queen of spandex.
Since moving to Mississauga in August, She has seen her outfits for synchronized swimmers and professional wrestlers skyrocket. For instance, Routhier says she made more money at her business in October than she did in all of 2001.
Marie Routhier is a one-woman sewing machine who turns out custom designed Spandex and Lycra wear. The Spider-man suit was made for a super heroes routine by a synchronized swimming team.
When her family in Winnipeg couldn’t afford the razzle-dazzle costumes she needed for competitions, she started sewing them herself.
A year later she was taking orders from other skaters and by 16 the self-taught seamstress was sewing wedding gowns.
“Scratch a spandex sewer and you’ll find a mother who had to learn how to make costumes to outfit a child in skating or dance or gymnastics,” she said. “In my case, I was the child who needed costumes.”
By 18, Routhier had moved to St. John’s, Nfld., and was operating her own business specializing in wedding gowns when back injuries from a car accident in 1998 ended her skating career and forced her into bankruptcy.
During her recovery at home in Winnipeg in 2000 she wrote a manual called Sewing for Skaters and Dancers and Gymnasts — Oh My in hopes of making enough money to pay a phone bill. That book has become the definitive primer for spandex sewing. She followed it up with a design theory manual called The Skating Dress Style Book and book profits allowed her to move back to St. John’s and start her sewing business again.
By the time she moved to Mississauga in August 2002 the 23-year-old found professional wrestlers were seeking her out for exotic ring costumes.
“I would sew for wrestlers over brides any day,” she said. “Wrestlers are a lot nicer and more appreciative than some brides. So when I moved to Mississauga, I decided to sew spandex full-time and get out of bridals.”
Routhier has designed two pairs of PVC stretch vinyl wrestling pants for the wrestling character played by Streetsville video store manager Dave Rector.
“Marie does good work,” he said. “The pants suit the character I play when I’m wrestling. And Marie goes to wrestling shows and makes herself known to guys like me wrestling on the independent circuit so we know where to go to get a costume made.”
Recently, Routhier moved her business to a new location at 3050 Confederation Parkway, Unit 202. There she sews, does fittings, and fills the fabric, book and costume orders generated by her websites, which she designed herself and which bring in most of her business.
Making custom costumes and swimsuits from an assortment of 380 Lycra fabrics is still the mainstay of her business, but the ambitious Routhier plans to open a store selling the special fabrics and supplies for spandex sewing.
“The store is my safety net,” she said. “A few months before the car accident, I turned down disability insurance. When you’re 18, you can’t imagine you’ll ever need it. “Now I’m thinking long-term and putting together a business that will support me if some day I can’t sew. I’m planning to write more manuals and give seminars and sewing lessons.”