Cherokee business owner in Vinita wears many hats
VINITA – It’s safe to say Shannon Bassett has a logistical mind because she’s able to manage multiple businesses from her small shop in downtown Vinita.
“We have a T-shirt shop and a dry cleaner. We do a lot of printing for companies across the country and different organizations across the country, and we print locally. We do a lot of T-shirts and embroidery and different things for a lot of organizations,” she said.
The Cherokee Nation citizen said the T-shirt shop started when her daughter was 4 years old. Bassett said she and a friend had to print uniforms for their daughters’ softball team.
“It just kind of grew and it went from ‘well, maybe we could make a little money. Maybe we could do this. Maybe we could do that,’ and our little hobby turned into a business. We just added things as we went along over the years. We actually sold out one time, and then started it (T-shirt shop) back up because of the requests of our customers,” Bassett said. “We’ve never advertised. We don’t have an advertising budget. Everything is solely based on word of mouth. We don’t do big social media campaigns.”
She said her business has printed T-shirts for employee events and fundraisers at the CN Vinita Health Center. She also sells T-shirts to area boutiques.
“So, our stuff goes all over and is sold and moves on. It’s funny, recently we were at an event in El Reno, and we saw multiple people wearing our shirts, and we don’t even know where they got them, but they were our own special designs we had sold to boutiques somewhere,” she said.
Another business in the same building, next door to the T-shirt shop, is a chair repair shop that her son, Dustin, works in along with others. She has two full-time and six part-time employees for this business.
“We actually repair slot-machine stools for different tribes across the state. We are growing that business on a daily basis,” Bassett said.
The casino chairs come to the shop with cigarette burn holes or other damage to the seats. New leather covers are put on the chairs and they are sent back to the casinos, which saves the tribes money because they don’t have to purchase new chairs.
“Smoking is a non-stop problem in the casinos, and they’re (customers) always burning holes in the seats. We figured out a way to go in and repair the seat bottoms for the different tribes and to recover the chair bottoms and go back in put them on the casino floors and not interrupt business,” she said. “It helps them save not having to buy new chairs over and over again.”
She said she stays busy “in Indian Country.”
“I work with tribes all across the country. I’ve worked with an architecture firm helping design and build casinos, and I worked in gaming for many years before going into business for myself. I actually sell new chairs, and I’m an independent sales rep for Gasser Chair Company. So, I’m always in the casinos, and I do that as my primary job.”
Her dry cleaning business is one of two in Vinita. It used to be called Arrow Cleaners, and Bassett said she was able to purchase the contract to continue providing a dry cleaning service.
“The dry cleaning is a steady business. It’s a good thing to provide to the community. It provides a service and gives us a little publicity. In our slow times, it gives our people who work here another job to do,” she said.
For all of her businesses she said she has 10 employees, with many being part-timers who are in high school and college.
“We have a lot of family that come in and work as well. All of our employees are Native American,” she said.
The businesses are under the umbrella of her Seaton Consulting Group.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to own my own business. I think everybody can do whatever they set their mind to, and helping the community by putting in more small businesses is what keeps our communities growing,” Bassett said. “If we quit doing that and let the big corporations take over then what’s going to happen to all of our small towns. That why I chose to stay here.”
Seaton Consulting is located 116 S. Scraper and can be reached at 918-323-4052.