Big Time Jerseys sews up success at Canyon Ventures

Big Time Jerseys co-owners Patsy Elmer, center, and daughter Christine Elmer Collins, left, and GCU student worker Sarah LeDrew display their products.

When Patsy Elmer wanted to buy her grandson a Cardinals Noggin Boss hat for Christmas, she merely needed to contact company founder Gabe Cooper.

After arriving at Noggin Boss’ Canyon Ventures headquarters on the 27th Avenue campus of Grand Canyon University, Elmer’s attention shifted.

With her Big Time Jerseys business ready to bust the walls of her Phoenix home, Elmer thought some of the spacious room at Canyon Ventures could better accommodate her business.

So Elmer, under Cooper’s suggestion, filed an application that was accepted. And as Elmer and Christine Elmer Collins, her daughter and CEO, were measuring the dimensions of their new space last month and projecting where specific equipment would fit, Sarah LeDrew took notice.

Business administration student Sarah LeDrew has been hired part time to be the content strategist for Big Time Jerseys.

LeDrew, who completed her freshman year as a business administration major, was conducting a tour of Canyon Ventures but stepped away briefly to ask Elmer and Collins about their business plans.

“What was really cool was that I was looking for another additional job for the summer,” said LeDrew, who later asked Canyon Ventures founding director Robert Vera for contact information for Elmer and Collins.

LeDrew has not been shy about seeking opportunities since arriving at GCU last fall. She was given the responsibility of handling much of the IDEA Club’s social media platforms, promoting marquee events such as the Student Marketplace and the Canyon Challenge.

She also helped fellow students develop content with their Instagram accounts and works for GCU, managing manage social media and content creation for GCU Admissions’ Instagram account under Colangelo College of Business program development specialist Steve Thomas.

Big Time Jerseys content strategist Sarah LeDrew captures images of a new Diamondbacks jersey on her smart phone.

LeDrew soon learned that Big Time Jerseys, which handles the customization of jerseys for GCU’s baseball and men’s and women’s basketball teams, Suns, Cardinals, Diamondbacks, Mercury and University of Arizona football, and several team shops and their foundation auctions, promoted their business solely by word of mouth.

“I had a feeling I’d end up working for them,” LeDrew said.

Sure enough, LeDrew cancelled previous plans so she could meet Patsy and inform her of her desire to expand her knowledge in marketing, social media and content creation while expanding Big Time’s platform.

“That’s how it started,” LeDrew said. “I’m their first GCU hire.”

Big Time Jerseys owners Patsy Elmer, left, and daughter Christine Elmer Collins, right, examine social media designs with Sarah LeDrew.

Based on Big Time’s growth and potential to expand, LeDrew might be the first of several GCU hires. Big Time also handles jersey specifications for the Dodgers, Athletics, Reds, Giants and Padres during spring training.

Big Time already has a strong alumni base. Collins, a retired Air Force captain and author of “Service, Honor & Sacrifice: Memoirs of a War Nurse,” earned her nursing degree at GCU. Dr. Tony Elmer, Patsy’s son, teaches mathematics online at GCU.

And the hiring of LeDrew “has attracted a lot of attention,” said Elmer, known as “the Godmother” by the Suns and several local clients. “And I can already see the writing on the wall. That's why we hired two new sewers. And I've got a couple more sewing machines that are going to be delivered.”

Sarah LeDrew captures content of a worker sewing new sports jerseys.

She said GCU students involved in fashion design who want to learn a craft other than making dresses are welcome to learn an applique stitching method.

As Elmer can attest, GCU has provided her with an ideal landing spot during a 30-year sewing career.

Elmer had her own bridal and prom dress business in Globe before starting a new life. She enrolled at Phoenix College to learn more about illustration and design sewing. She met a man who had a customized jersey business but needed someone who knew how to sew.

Elmer was hired as a production manager, where she worked for 14 years before taking over Phoenix Alterations from a friend.

Two weeks later, Elmer received a call from Mike Brown, the brother-in-law of hockey great Wayne Gretzky, asking if she could handle his jersey inventory for fantasy camps and auctions.

Big Time Jerseys has a long business association with NHL great Wayne Gretzky, whose autographed Edmonton Oilers hockey jersey is displayed.

Elmer was capable of customizing jerseys with ease. But Brown’s request?

One thousand jerseys.

Fortunately for all parties, Brown took care of the supplies, Elmer hired help, and the project was completed in four months.

The Suns called two weeks after Brown and Elmer agreed on their project. Since Elmer was not bound to any contract, she agreed to work with the Suns and eventually start her own company.

In the meantime, LeDrew has a prime opportunity to enhance her profile. She immediately started posting videos featuring jerseys that ignited requests for custom jerseys.

“It’s so much fun,” LeDrew said. “It’s just an amazing opportunity. It was so ordained by God for this to happen.”

GCU Senior Writer Mark Gonzales can be reached at [email protected]

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