By Libby Hopkins

Carmen Wilson of Brandon is full of creativity. She has been a successful photographer for more than 15 years and a confessed “crafting junky.” She also has a passion for sewing and fabrics. Many in the sewing community in the area know her, as “Gigi” and she’ll tell you it stands for “Gorgeous Grandma” with a smile. She even sews tags inside the clothes she makes that say “Handmade With Love From Gigi.” She started an online fabric store called XO Gigi Fabrics and it became a huge success. “My first order was $100,” Wilson said. She always joked with friends saying she “Would never open a brick and mortar store.” That all changed on August 1 of this year when she opened the 1300 sq. ft. store, Gigi’s Fabrics on South Moon Ave. behind Isbell Chiropractic Center in Brandon. She had over 100 people show up on her first day of business to shop in her store. “There was a need in Brandon for a neighborhood fabric store and I love teaching, so why not open a brick and mortar store that would combine so many of my passions in one,” Wilson said. “I could not have done this without the help of the community.” Many of her sewing friends helped get the store ready for business.

Wilson has many plans in the works for the fabric shop. She is working on setting up a variety of sewing and quilting classes to offer her customers. She is even working on setting up a home-school sewing program for children in the community. “I want to make sewing rock stars in the community,” Wilson said. “I want to introduce sewing to the younger generation and teenagers.” Sewing is on the rise again. According to an article published in The New York Times (, “Sewing machine sales are booming, with sales in the United States expected to top three million according to SVP Worldwide, the maker of Singer sewing machines, up from 1.5 million a year more than a decade ago. While some of the craze can be chalked up to the popularity of reality television shows like ‘Project Runway,’ sewing instructors say students in their 20’s and 30’s, particularly women, are embracing sewing also as a form of self-expression and a way to assert their independence.”

For more information on the classes Wilson will be offering as well as the stores hours of operation, you can visit her website at or call 661-9000. The shop is located at 105 S. Moon Ave.


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Libby Hopkins has been a part of the Brandon community for more than 30 years. She is a graduate of USF with a degree in journalism. She has been a freelance writer for The Osprey Observer Newspaper since 2008. She also the Executive Director of Center Place Fine Arts and Civic Association. She is a dog mom to her rescue dog, Marshall. She loves being a part of the Brandon Community and she loves sharing positive news about our community.