By Laura Kaae
Fort Hood Herald
Seneca Hart doesn’t always wear her heart on her sleeve, but she’s usually carrying it around on her purse.
Hart is the local entrepreneur of HeroOnMyArm.com, a Web site that features purses made out of soldiers’ uniforms.
Hart’s purses — which are fast becoming a local fashion trend among military spouses — are created from old uniform tops that customers send to her, which she then cuts apart and sews into bags that display the servicemembers’ name, rank, branch and unit.
Bags are then customized, she said, to give each a personal touch such as a colored ribbon, flowery lining, or an “I love my soldier” patch.
Hart, a Killeen military spouse and mother of two daughters under the age of 4, said her love of sewing began several years ago when her mother-in-law, Donna, taught her.
“I made the first bag with my husband’s uniform,” said Hart, whose husband, Brandon, is an aviator with the 1st Cavalry Division.
In the fall of 2006, when Brandon was deployed to Iraq, Seneca and her girls spent some time at Donna’s home.
“(Donna) saw the bag and, since it had her son’s name on it, she said, ‘I have to have one!’”
So, with a few tips from seamstress Donna, Seneca set about selling some of her handiwork on eBay. Orders began coming in slowly but steadily, and Seneca was filling about two orders a week for people from all over the country who wanted to honor loved ones with the unique handbags.
Seneca creates the accessories with uniforms from all the branches of military service, as well as for firefighters and police officers.
“I love that each one is so special to the person,” she said. “Each one has a story. Each one makes you pause when you see it.”
Feedback from customers was so positive, Seneca was motivated to launch her own Web site, www.heroonmyarm.com, where she now fills some 10 orders a week.
“I try to do the sewing in the evenings, when the girls are sleeping, and I try to do one during naptime,” she said. “But it doesn’t always work out that way.”
Equipped with an industrial-size sewing machine and spools of thread, Seneca’s business has become so popular, she’s overtaken the guest bedroom of their home.
“I hired on a seamstress,” she said. “And when we build again, I’m going to put in a studio.”
Right now, orders come in through the Web site and people mail the uniform tops to Seneca. She takes them apart, creates the purse, and ships them back out through the mail.
“One day I’d like to have a storefront, but for now the mail works perfectly. It’s easy and I’ve never had a single problem with orders getting lost.”
Seneca said she loves creating the bags for several reasons, the first of which is that she knows how proud she is of her husband, and likes helping other spouses wear something that showcases the same pride.
“I tried sewing other things, like children’s clothing, but with this I know I’m helping out other spouses.”
Seneca also likes that the business keeps her very occupied while her husband is deployed.
“I found my niche,” she said.
For more information, visit www.heroonmyarm.com. Bags begin at about $35. Hart will be accepting Christmas orders through the first week in December.
Contact Laura Kaae at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (254) 501-7464