blessed to give
Story by Susan O'Connor, Photo by Courtney Fitzwater
Navie Scales prayed for God to show her a talent she could use to help others and listened intently for an answer. Her eyes were opened to an extraordinary gift that blesses many children. Along the way Scales has been blessed, as well.
Scales designs and sews clothing for little girls, a skill that is completely self-taught. She watched her mother sew as a child in tiny Twin Groves near Conway and took home economics in high school, but essentially has no training. She bought her first sewing machine a few years ago at a yard sale for $5.
“Sometimes I use patterns, but usually I just start cutting,” she said. “If I can see it, I can usually make it. Some people look at a piece of wood and see a sculpture. I look at a piece of fabric and see an outfit.”
Designs come to Scales randomly, she said, and even wake her from sleep. She keeps a pad close by to make sketches.
“If I have a far off look on my face, people who know me well know I am probably designing an outfit in my mind,” she said.
Scales came to Jonesboro in 1980 to attend Arkansas State University and earned a bachelor of science in speech therapy. She was a speech therapist in the Earle and Crawfordsville school districts for six years, and since that time has been employed as a paraprofessional in the pre-K program of Jonesboro Public Schools. Through her work with children, she has come in contact with many needs that manifest every day.
“I have always had a place in my heart for children who need extra love and attention,” Scales said. “I have learned through sewing that even though I am not swimming in money, I can still give and be a blessing to someone else. God can use all of us to distribute his blessings. You have to be open to his voice and listen. He will supply you with what you need to accomplish his work. Through sewing, I receive excitement, peace, relaxation, joy, happiness and blessings. The secret is giving. I sew and give to a child in need, and I also have paying customers. Paying customers help me to continue giving to a child in need.”
Often, Scales uses donated fabric for portions of her designs. A pillow cover may become a dress, or the leg of a man’s jeans can be a tiny, but fashion-forward jean skirt. But she also loves to shop in fabric stores.
“I go to Hancock Fabrics and it is like a candy store to me. The people at Hancock’s know my name. They say, ‘Here comes Navie,’” she said with a laugh.
For Navie, sewing is a ministry for the Lord.
“When I give an outfit to a child, I always receive a blessing from God. The cycle of giving and receiving continues and God’s glory is revealed. It is only what you do for God that lasts forever.”
If you could have any other career in the world, what would it be? Designer of little girls’ clothing. I have always had a passion for working with children, even when I was a speech therapist. Being a designer of children’s clothing helps continue that passion.
Have you thought of marketing your designs online? I have thought about it. Several friends have told me that I should market my clothing online through the websites Etsy or Ebay. I am really not familiar with doing this, however I would welcome any help I could receive with starting this. I know that God wouldn’t give me a thought if I couldn’t do it. If I can think it, I can do it.
How do you keep from getting too attached to children in your pre-K class who need extra love and attention? Choosing to get attached or not is not an option for me. Giving the extra love and attention is effortless. You would be surprised to see how giving a hug, smile or just a hand being placed on a child’s back shows that you care. Attention like love can be given by listening to them when they are talking and focusing only on that they are saying.
What is your favorite secret indulgence? I enjoy playing pool. It was during my college years when I learned how to play pool and I play as often as I get a chance. Believe it or not, I’m pretty good at it! It is still my favorite indulgence, but it’s not a secret anymore.