Kelsy Johnson
Rachel Neumiller creating a new Pear'd design.

Texture and patterns make up Pear'd pouches unique look.

Rachel Neumiller and Lacey Heid grew up in a household where their mother sewed their clothes. As sisters, they both picked up on sewing themselves, and began making bags and clothing as a pastime.

When Heid graduated from high school, she received a sewing machine as a graduation present. Neumiller was sewing by third grade, and received her sewing machine from her great aunt. Over the years, the sisters found their passion for making bags and clothing. They made gifts for family and friends but started to see the potential for a business. This summer, the duo opened their own business in called,"pear'd."

Now they sell a range of items including totes, sleeves and 'roos - pouches that can be used to store toys, electronics, cosmetics or craft supplies. Their products can be found at A Creative Outlet in downtown Bismarck and online at Etsy.

Heid pursued a degree in apparel and textiles at North Dakota State University. After a few years at the corporate headquarters for Vanity, she moved back to Bismarck and took another job as an office manager. She recently left her office job to raise her daughter, who is now a year old, and focus on the business.

Neumiller is a student at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where she is studying mass communications. When she travels back to Bismarck, they go shopping for fabric and make a general plan for what they want to accomplish. Neumiller fits sewing into her weekends while she is in school.

With eight years in age and 200 miles between the two sisters, it would seem that going into business together would be challenging, but so far, they have managed to make it work. Neumiller travels back to Bismarck once a month. They hold meetings online once a week in the interim. And as far as sibling rivalries are concerned, there are none.

"I've always looked up to my sister," Neumiller said. "We play off each other's strengths and weaknesses."

Virtually every item is one of a kind, says Neumiller. Each piece is made with a unique color scheme or aesthetic.

Neumiller and Heid strive to make products that discourage purchasing for the sake of just buying something. They create items that are meant to last for years. Heid says they hope to appeal to a demographic that appreciates high quality, handmade goods.

"People are seeking to find businesses that they can connect to," Heid said.

Pear'd will be featured a trunk show in Nov. 22 and 23. People interested in their work will be able to ask questions and get to know them as artists. This event will also offer a chance for them release some new products. Neumiller and Heid plan to sell bowties, clutches and tobacco pouches.

Eventually, pear'd products will be found at Unglued, a Fargo shop featuring items from over 100 local and regional artists.

Although the business is just a few months old, Heid says she is excited about their success so far. She estimates that they have sold about 40 items. While the number seems small, it's promising. One of the most rewarding experiences for Heid so far has been seeing a complete stranger carrying a pear'd product.

"I just want to run up to them and say 'thank you so much,'" she said.

Sometimes Neumiller and Heid have a difficult time parting with their creations. Some of the more complicated projects can take up to three hours to complete. And since each tote, sleeve or 'roo is unique, it's easy to become attached.

"Hopefully someone else will feel the same way," Heid said.

In an era when people want to know where their purchases come from, Heid and Nuemiller are trying to stand out with handmade products that are worth investing in.

"We want our customers to take pride in that," Neumiller said.

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Kelsy Johnson, a native of Bismarck, works as a freelance reporter and nonprofit writer in Fargo. She divides her time between her two passions: storytelling and martial arts.