Small Business Spotlight: Veterans Day Edition

Sound reinforced systems for churches

With Veterans Day around the corner, we’re recognizing the contributions of our veteran workforce in Pennsylvania and those serving the veteran community. We had the opportunity to speak with Eve Baum, Founder and Designer of Military Apparel Company in Gardners, Pa., which creates custom handbags and accessories from military uniforms, as well as Scott Koons, U.S. Navy veteran and owner of Lebanon, Pa.-based SDK Electronics.

Military Apparel Company

Eve Baum, Founder and Designer

What does your business specialize in and who are your customers?

We specialize in crafting handbags and accessories from military uniforms. We have uniforms that were donated and worn by American heroes — or people can send in their own meaningful uniforms. We ship worldwide to meet the needs of those stationed with the military.

While our main customers are moms, wives, girlfriends, or fiancées of military members, we’ve noticed fashionistas purchasing our creations ever since our Charity handbag was featured in People magazine. Since camouflage is always in style, our creations are sometimes seen as fashion icons. Men also ask for help with custom designs as gifts.

What does your company do differently that sets it apart?

Military Apparel Company is in the business of touching lives. When someone receives a creation, it enables them to tell a story. For example, when a woman wears her custom Military Apparel Company handbag in public and someone asks about it, she can proudly tell the story of her American hero.

While I tap into trends in the fashion industry, most of my ideas for new products come from my customers and friends. We do add new fabrics each year, but a majority of our creations were born when I started the company 12 years ago. From pillows to keychains, all of our products are made in America, and our customers value the high quality that we deliver.

Why are you proud to be a Pennsylvania small business?

We have the pleasure to work alongside many seamstresses involved in the creation of all of our products. With the rich Pennsylvania Dutch heritage in this state, I have been able to find talented women that are trained in the art of sewing. The central location also allows me to easily ship finished creations all around the USA, while keeping low shipping costs.

I am originally from Canada, but I am constantly amazed by the beautiful scenery and landscape here in Pennsylvania. It is a wonderful place to raise a family, and the lifestyle and culture match my values.

Learn more about Military Apparel Company and customize your creations on their website, Facebook page, Amazon, and Etsy.

Eve Baum is the Founder and Designer of Military Apparel Company located in Gardners, Pa. Baum grew up in Quebec, Canada, where she attended Fashion Design school. When she moved to the U.S. in 2005, she started crafting custom handbags. After a mission trip where she began to consider changing her career path to impact more people, she returned home to a friend’s request to turn a military uniform into a handbag. She was inspired to launch Military Handbag, which ultimately grew into Military Apparel Company.

SDK Electronics

Scott Koons, Owner

What does your business specialize in and who are your clients?

We are a custom audio-visual (A/V) integrator. We offer custom design systems for both residential and commercial markets. On the residential side, we create everything from custom home theaters to whole-house sound setups. When you think “custom,” that’s where SDK Electronics comes into play. Commercial clients were our original baseline market, but the balance varies from year to year. Some years we complete 20 percent residential work and 80 percent commercial; other years, it may be closer to 50/50.

What does your company do differently that sets it apart?

It’s all about service — the level of personal service we give our clients. We have dedicated people assigned to accounts who give direct access numbers, so clients can call directly when they need something. We have a very rapid response time.

Oftentimes we will not hear from clients for years after we install a system, simply because they don’t need follow-up and don’t need something to be fixed. We do it right the first time.

Why are you proud to be a Pennsylvania small business?

We are a small but mighty operation, with only three of us, and we are proud to work and live in Pennsylvania. We take a lot of pride in our work and the impact we have on both commercial and residential clients — and by extension, the communities they touch.

When I got out of the military, I hadn’t planned to start my own business — but that’s where my path took me, and I stayed. I never considered leaving.

To learn more about SDK Electronics and its capabilities, visit its website.

The Small Business Spotlight is a monthly series posted on the second Saturday of the month which highlights businesses and their owners who are positively impacting their local community.

To learn more about starting your own small business in Pennsylvania, check out our Pennsylvania Business One-Stop Shop or our Entrepreneur’s Guide.

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