Spotlight on star 'repairer' at Repair Café

Courtesy photoKaty Banovic, shown at her sewing machine, was the first repairer to sign up as a volunteer at the first Repair Café held in November 2018 

NEWBURYPORT — Katy Banovic is a special member of Repair Café Newburyport’s ongoing efforts to fix what you own to prevent buying new.

Banovic was the first repairer to sign up for the first Repair Café Newburyport in November 2018 — and has been consistently the first to commit for every Repair Café since, usually with an email simply stating, “Heck yeah!”

Banovic owns Growling Whale Stitchery — “… an outdoor gear repair business that understands how to fix the multitude of problems that can arise from the use of outdoor performance wear and how to deal with their specialized fabrics.”

The name Growling Whale came from her original idea to drive her big white —and loud — VW Vanagon to events to build up clientele — but business was booming before she ever had to start the engine.

She tapped into a definite need, noting on her website: “We believe that people really do want to save their favorite tights, or their warmest coats, but they just don’t know how to. For the good of this little blue planet, it is time that we all use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without.”

Banovic’s business is doing well, but she still takes time off for each Repair Café to do free repairs.

Growling Whale Stitchery is still booming – so why does she give up a Saturday to do her work for free?

“I truly believe in this philosophy and not just from a frugality viewpoint. I would like to see people waste less. Consume less. Use what they already own. At the Repair Cafés, I get to help people do just that. In addition, since my business does not have a storefront, I rarely get the face-to-face interaction that I get at the Repair Café. I get to hear the stories behind the item and its damage and then I get to hand it back to the owner a few minutes later fully functional,” she said.

Besides the feel-good aspects from the visitors whose items are repaired, Banovic has been bonding with other volunteer sewers at the Repair Cafés.

“My favorite Repair Café moments are the fun and camaraderie shared between all the cool kids in the sewing repair section! We almost have a friendly co-worker feel at this point. Everyone has their strength and everyone else knows what that strength is. We joke and giggle and pat each other on the back. It’s a team of sewing superstars and I think we all really love hanging out!”

The next Repair Café Newburyport is Jan. 25. At past events, the volunteers have fixed hundreds of household items, electronics, clocks, ceramics, jewelry, small appliances, toys, small furniture pieces and more, saving residents time, money and the need for replacement.

In some cases, irreplaceable items such as family heirlooms and other sentimental items have been restored, refurbished or otherwise improved to continue in their useful life.

Repair Café Newburyport is a free community event coordinated by the Time Trade Network of Greater Newburyport and Toward Zero Waste Newburyport to repair or restore personal items to working condition.

Learn more at: or image @RepairCafeNBPT.


For more about Growling Whale Stitchery:

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