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Saltwater Portrait

Sunny Seo: Keeping on the Sunny side

Lewes businesswoman helps girls gear up for prom
By Kara Nuzback | May 31, 2011
Photo by: Kara Nuzback Sunny Seo, left, owner of Sunny's Cleaners and Alterations on Route 1 in Lewes, held the first Prom Dress Contest this year for Sussex Technical High School and Cape Henlopen High School students.  Her sister, Honey Wilkerson, helps with cleaning and alterations.

Lewes — When Sunny Seo was young, she liked celebrations, but she often did not have the money to dress the way she would have liked to.  This year, Seo decided to use her business and her talents to help two local high school students look their best for prom.

Sunny’s Cleaners and Alterations held its first prom dress contest this year.  Seo, owner of Sunny’s, randomly selected two girls from a small pool of contestants to receive free alterations for their prom dresses before the big night.  Seo even paid for one winner’s dress.  “I like to help them,” Seo said.  “They were really happy.”

Seo came to the United States from Taejon, Korea, when she was 22.  She said she spent many years in Dover before moving to Milton, where she lived for six years.  She now resides in Long Neck.

Seo and her sister, Honey Wilkerson, who has been sewing for 15 years, work together at Sunny’s Cleaners in Lewes, next to the Nassau Post Office and BP gas station on Route 1.  The shop is full of light.  Hundreds of articles of clothing hang on racks and quilts are piled chest-high, yet every item is packaged, tagged and organized.

“We do everything,” Seo said.  Seo and Wilkerson specialize in altering dresses for weddings and formal occasions, but the sisters said they could fix just about any garment.  Seo said she set up shop in Lewes about three years ago, and she has acquired many loyal customers.

Seo said she is thankful to her loyal customers, especially those who helped her through a recent tragedy.  In the midst organizing the prom dress contest on March 17, Seo said, her dog, about to celebrate its 12th birthday, was killed by a car outside of her shop.  “I was crying for two weeks,” Seo said.

Customers and friends sent cards and best wishes to Seo.  “Every card and every word I received made my heart glad to know that I have so many friends there to support me through the hardest of times,” she said.  One day, a customer brought Seo a puppy.

“She was born on the same day my dog died,” Seo said of her new furry companion, Sarah, a Shih Tzu smaller than a football.  Sarah stays with Seo at the shop, eagerly greeting customers who walk in.

Seo bought an aqua gown from BCBG outlet in Rehoboth Beach for a Poseidon’s Paradise prom at Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown.  Seo allowed Summer Kates, a senior at Sussex Tech and winner of the Prom Dress Contest, to pick her own dress.   Seo said she paid the bill and provided alterations so the gown fit Kates perfectly.

Kayla Redmon, a senior a Cape Henlopen High School, was the second winner in this year’s contest.  Seo said Redmon had already purchased a dress, so she provided complimentary alterations.  Redmon’s mother is a regular client at Sunny’s, Seo said.

Seo said she plans to pick one student from each high school every year.  She will begin accepting entries for next year’s contest in March.  On April 30, Seo said, the winners’ names will be drawn.  Contestants write their name, telephone number and the name of their school on a piece of paper to enter.  Seo said she hopes next year to hold the drawings at each school, in front of the students.

Sunny’s offers 10 percent off all dry cleaning services every day.  The shop is open from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., Saturday.  For more information on cleaning and alterations at Sunny’s, call 302-827-2095.  Sunny’s Cleaners and Alterations also has a location on West Stein Highway in Seaford.  Call 302-628-9440 to contact the Seaford location.

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