Evacuee Opens Business

Eighteen years ago Ilona Toth escaped Hungary and the restrictions of socialism. Four weeks ago she fled her New Orleans home and the grasp of Hurricane Katrina. Toth noted, "Many similarities because we had to start everything from zero back then."

Having nothing doesn't stop this spirited woman. 'The Red Thread Alteration Shop' will soon open. Perhaps it will become like the one she owned in New Orleans for the last fifteen years. "I made wedding gowns, evening gowns, special occasion (dresses), especially in New Orleans, (for) Mardi Gras. We made so many."

When coming to America Ilona brought only the talent of making everything you can sew. She saved for her equipment. One week after moving to New Orleans it was stolen. She began again, as she is doing now in Nacogdoches with two used sewing machines. "It was a good decision because we have to some how live, making money or something. And I find a school for my son. Also I'm so lucky I found this place. It is a beautiful place," said Toth.

Where she'll create beautiful dresses, like the red signature gown she has made so many times before. "I had fashion shows over there and at the end of the fashion show this dress came out," recalled Toth.

Toth is still needing a surger and office equipment. If successful she hopes to hire other seamstresses. She had about 5 employees at her New Orleans shop.

Ilona will salvage what she can from her New Orleans shop. She'll return to Nacogdoches, a place she stopped when too tired to drive any further. "Hopefully I can , I can find something in New Orleans. Step by step it's gonna be better."