June 2009 Newsletter

New Market and Resaca

A bClouds at New Marketig thank you to everyone who stopped by our tents at Resaca and New Market. We had a great weekend. We sold out of many items and came close to selling out of the new Gardner canteens. As always, if there is anything that you did not have a chance to pick up at the event, it can be ordered online at www.njsekela.com. Again, thanks for stopping by our tent to take a look at our products and give us a chance to meet our online friends face-to-face.

NJ Sekela tent at New MarketAlthough being a perfect match to the orignial conditions in 1864, the rain was not a welcome visitor to the event.

Nick Sekela and Robert Collett
NJ Sekela & Co.

All ya gotta do!..

All ya gotta do, is the preface for the advice that inevitably comes from well meaning people who don't understand how much effort is really involved in producing items for the hobby. Conversely, if you really work hard people are under the impression that it was easy. Through the "magic of the internet", I reconnected with a high school friend who actually found me through google. He had said that he was really impressed of what I had made of this. He had everything handed to him; as his father had a good job, gave him the best of everything and paid his way through college.

While I was flattered, whatever has been built could not be any more UN-glamorous, having been achieved through pure hard work. While this is not a unique story in the hobby of living history, my beginnings could not have been more humble, not that I will make the cover of Forbes anytime soon. My sewing equipment quickly

Original Shopoutgrew my apartment in Clifton NJ, and I was forced to find a commercial space for rental. At the time, all that I could afford was a space within a factory that had been partially demolished after fire. As you can see from the pictures below, there is no basis for conceit from such a beginning.

Where I am now, for better or worse, is the result of hard work. I worked with Chris Schreiber and later with Hank Kluin by making daily trips to their shops until my truck gave out. When I enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, I drove a truck for Wyckoff Bakery at night, taking classes during the day and working in an unpaid apprenticeship at Prochilo Custom Tailors. Nothing came easy and everything came from sacrifice.

Right now, the major hurdle to overcome is the politics of the hobby. One doesn't have to look far to see aspects of it, in some cases using asterisks to obscure the company name. To put forth that much effort against one small sutlery, is an indication of how much of an impact that we are having towards the ultimate goal of changing things in reenacting. At no stage of this has the load been light, but with the can do attitude of Robert Collett and his wife Lori, and Brian Desrochers, things are coming together at a rapid pace. We have have already attended more events this year than we ever have, and the year is only half over! Look out for us at Camp Geiger in June, Altanta in September and Cedar Creek in October! 

NO matter what, it is completely thanks to YOU, our loyal friends and customers that we have been able to take it this far!

Robert, Lori, Brian and *****

Original ShopNick Working with Chris Schreiber
 Customer profile

Ken Raia at 12th NJ MonumentKen Raia

Ken was one of our first customers and we have gotten to know him pretty well. He describes himself as a a baby boomer who grew up during the Civil War Centennial years. As a young kid during the nations celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Civil War, his first trip was to Gettysburg was in July of 1963. From that point on he was totally hooked.

Civil war Toys and play sets, forerunner to today's war gaming (Marx toys) were in abundance in those years so it was a terrific time to be a kid with this interest. He was born in 1953 and delights in telling kids, when he's doing a Civil War talk, that When he was born Civil War Veterans were still alive.

Ken has collected Civil War artifacts over the years and is a student of the material culture. He has studied original artifacts in detail and prides himself on recognizing the smaller details in reproductions that make them authentic, which often go unnoticed by most others. He is sought out by comrades in the regiment when it comes to what to look for when purchasing accurate reproductions.

He has always been a member of the Mifflin Guard and 12th NJ Reg. CO. K.

Spurs are in!!

After receiving several requests from customers, we proceeded with the enlisted spur project.

Federal Issue Spurs

New and upcoming projects!

Release of second cap in Greg Starbuck's "collector's series"

In the next few weeks, Greg Starbuck will be releasing the next reproduction Confederate cap, based upon the original won by William Kite. This reproduction is the result of having handled the cap personally, and creating a new pattern as well as custom hardware. Being a well documented example, this cap is the perfect addition to serious collector of reproduction headgear.

William Kite enlisted Kepi

Folding Camp Chairs

After noticing the lack of availability of this staple item, we embarked upon having them produced in the same mill that has been producing our other wood items. We will probably be taking delivery of them in the next 6-8 weeks, but please feel free to drop a line if you are interested.

Folding Camp chair

Hat Shapers.

Beginning in May, we started shipping our caps and hats with cardboard "shapers" inside. These are intended to keep the shape of the hat when not worn, and thereby not only maintain an aesthetically pleasing cap, but also one that will not be distorted. While relatively simple, and perhaps unnoticed by some, we disigned this to be made by disabled and handicapped people. Although we prepare them here, we are working with several local group homes to have them assembled. In a small way, we will be giving opportunity to those with physical afflictions, or for whom, life has not dealt a fair hand.

Forage Cap shaper

If you don't see it, ASK!

We have over 200 items listed on the site, and it only represents a portion of the items we have made in the past. We have gladly obliged many of our customers special request items, some of which are pictured to the right. If there is something that you really want or need and can't find elsewhere, please ask! Chances are that we have made it in the past or could make it. Also remember, that the majority of my career in fashion has been in womenswear, so we are in no way limited to "soldier stuff"

Enclosed are pictures of two caps that were made for customers by special request

Custom ordered Major's cap

Regulation Confederate Cap

Only 5 Gardners left!! Jump on em before they go!