In a modest workshop in Southtown, the sewing machines hum, and nimble fingers are as busy as Santa's elves.
This is Dos Carolinas, where owner Caroline Matthews and her 15 employees custom-sew guayaberas one tiny pleat at at time.
"We really tailor the shirt to the individual," Matthews said. "They get to come in and select the fabric, the design and the color of the (embroidered) design. So, they literally come in and build their own shirt."
Experienced seamstresses craft bolts of cotton, linen and silk fabrics into embroidered, artful garments. Besides the traditional white, they make colors and even loud prints, which Matthews joked was "for the guy that spills his lunch."
Matthews launched her business, located at 127 W. Carolina Street just south of downtown, 25 years ago. She was considering what type of garment business to focus on when a friend made a suggestion.
"She said, 'You girls need to do a guayabera, because nobody sells a decent guayabera.' And I said, 'That's not a business,'" Matthews recalled.
It is a booming business, this year making 3200 guayaberas for men, children and even tunics and dresses.
"As the volume grows, so do the needs for employees because it's a very labor intensive business. It doesn't just happen," Matthews said.
For now, Dos Carolinas has all the holiday custom orders they can handle. Some guayaberas can be purchased off the rack in the front of the shop. While Matthews is not a wholesaler, she does sell some products through Satels.
And, with production bursting at the seams, she is looking to open a retail outlet in Houston early next year, expanding a homegrown business tailor-made for success.