Cartersville resident Jose S. Cervantes is a busy man. Any given week, the owner and operator of Flawless Alterations at 3 Leake St. is hard at work on about 30-40 customers' worth of orders — and the volume is often even heavier than that.
"I do all kinds of stuff, from men's suits to weddings to casual clothes," the 50-year-old tailor said. "Hemming, zippers, buttons, tapering ... I'm prepared to do anything."
Since opening his business in Cartersville about two years ago, Cervantes said he's been surprised by just how many people inside and outside of the local community want to procure his services.
"I wasn't expecting to have this many customers, every day there are new customers," he said. "They really want a good service and it's hard for only one person to do that sometimes."
The profession, Cervantes said, certainly requires a passion for both the trade and art form of tailoring.
"Fixing clothes is not easy. Anybody can get a sewing machine at home, but you have to love your job," he said. "I can measure clothes, from underwear to a suit. And if you want me to design something, I can design it."
Although Cervantes does get some help from his friends — particularly, longtime pal Moises Lopez — he remains Flawless Alterations' only employee. His "regular" hours might be 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. most days, but it's not unusual for Cervantes to find himself putting in 15-16 hour shifts.
"The hardest is prom season," he said. "I have to work so many hours, sometimes from 7 in the morning and then I stop at probably one or two o'clock in the morning."
Born in Mexico City, Cervantes studied fashion design in his home country.
"They used to put those fashion shows on TV and since I was a little kid I liked it," he said. "When I went to do my bachelor's, I went for electrical engineering ... but when I saw the fashion [program], I said 'no, I like this better.'"
Prior to launching Flawless Alterations, Cervantes worked at numerous manufacturing facilities and uniform suppliers throughout Georgia and Alabama. At various points in the past, he worked for Atlanta Army Navy Supply Co. (now known as ATLANCO) in Marietta, Lacey Mills Inc. in Cartersville and the Sewell Companies in Bremen and Bowdon.
"I was working as a sewing machine mechanic in Heflin, Alabama," he said. "From there, I jumped to the Sewell industries."
That line of work, Cervantes said, was just too slow for his liking. That's when he and his wife decided to go into business for themselves, opening Perfect Fit Alterations in Cedartown. The success of that venture inspired Cervantes to open another tailoring business; after much deliberation, he decided to select Cartersville as the site of Flawless Alterations over the runner-up choice, Tallapoosa.
"The people are nice, the police are good and the people from other businesses, they know me and they're really nice, too," Cervantes described the local community. "It's like a brotherhood, and everybody's nice with everybody."
Cervantes' clientele runs the gamut from young boys to teenage girls to women in their 30s to men well beyond middle age.
"There are a lot of ladies here, and they've got really good taste," he said. "They demand excellence and quality."
But all of his customers, Cervantes said, are his favorites.
"When I'm doing their buttons, I feel like I'm doing my own," he said. "All the customers mean the same to me. They're all special and I'm grateful for the town I'm in."
As challenging as it may be, Cervantes nonetheless said he looks forward to each and every prom season.
"As a fashion designer, I love to work on those dresses," he said. "The girls here in Cartersville, they're really special ... it's like a little competition, they're bringing amazing dresses here."
And it's not just clients from Cartersville who amble into his shop each spring. Over the years he's performed alterations for customers from Paulding, Gordon and Cobb counties.
"I don't even know how they found out about me," he said.
Although Flawless Alterations does have a social media presence, Cervantes said he is largely reliant on referrals from satisfied clients to publicize his business.
"A lot of people tell me 'I'm too cheap,' but it's not about money. It's about making people feel good and look good," he said. "If I charge you a little bit cheaper for a good job, they're coming back. And they're going to bring me back more customers — with a fair price and nice quality, what happens is word of mouth."
Cervantes said he plans on staying in Cartersville for the foreseeable future — and if enough things go right, he said he'd love to start designing and showcasing his own clothing soon.
"I told my wife when I first started this I was going to start from the bottom," he said. "I love my job, but what I really want to work on is my collection. I don't care if I'm famous or not, I just want to work on that because that's what I went to school for."
And the local community that's supported his business for the last two years, of course, would have a front row seat to the fashion show.
"That's my dream, to make a collection and allow people to come and see it," he said. "And I definitely want to do it here in Cartersville, maybe one day in the future."
More information on Cervantes' business is online at www.facebook.com/flawlessalterations.