Photography by Danny Fulgencio.

The entrepreneur quietly sewing clothes on the second floor of Preston Tower has perhaps the most compelling past in the building.

Ann Nguyen, who owned an alterations business for 17 years at the Plaza at Preston Center before moving to Preston Tower in 2011, escaped her homeland of Vietnam in 1979. Nguyen was married to a soldier at 17. Her father-in-law spent more than a year building a boat. After six days and five nights at sea, the family arrived in the Philippines. Two years later, she found herself in Amarillo, learning a new language and working at Levi Strauss & Co. for $3.25 an hour.

Nguyen and her husband moved to Dallas in 1992. She had four children. One day, she read the newspaper and saw the headline, “Alteration shop for sale.”

“I’m thinking, ‘What’s alteration?’ I know sewing, mending, and then I looked it up in the dictionary. It said alterations is kind of like a tailor.” She approached the owner, who said the shop cost $25,000.

“I don’t have the money,” she told the shop owner. “Can you sell it to me for $10,000?” The owner agreed. Then Nguyen panicked.

“I didn’t know customer service or how to do alterations.” The owner stayed for two weeks to teach her. Next, Nguyen called her father, who worked for the Men’s Big and Tall store. He took two weeks of vacation to show his daughter how to take measurements and tailor men’s suits.

“Anytime a customer came to pick up an order, I prayed to God. ‘God, help me. Don’t let the people be hard on me.’ I learned day by day.”

After moving into the Preston Tower, she worried about not having a street-facing storefront. But generations of customers followed her, and she also does business with Tower residents. Today, her shop is filled with Christmas and birthday cards, signs of endless loyalty.


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