In 2015, Mckelle Marshall started school at BYU-Idaho studying Pre-Med, like her dad. She enjoyed her anatomy and physiology classes but remained curious about the option to study her hobby. After her first semester, she deferred classes for 18 months and served as a missionary in. Marshall was called to serve in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission.
When Marshall was on her mission, a sister training leader she served with mentioned her sister was taking a sewing class at BYU-I and had sewn her own wedding dress. This comment piqued Marshall’s interest.
“I went ‘what?’” Marshall said. “’There’s a sewing program at BYU-Idaho?’ I remember emailing my mom and asking if I could get into a sewing class and she signed me up for one. And the rest is kind of history.”
Now she is a junior studying apparel entrepreneurship, but Marshall originally began sewing as a young teenager.
“My mom, I think when I was 12, bought the four oldest girls in my family a sewing machine,” Marshall said. “My mom took the time to try and teach us.”
After learning to sew at home, Marshall decided it would be fun to take some sewing classes in junior high. She enjoyed them, but in high school, she focused more on playing the violin in her school orchestra.
Mashall’s family influenced her choice. She could’ve chosen to go the medical route, like her dad, but she was drawn to something that has run in her family on both sides for generations.
“My great-grandma Bat and my great-grandma Marshall were both really good seamstresses,” Marshall said. “My grandma Marshall would quilt all the time. She had so many denim quilts that were handmade and really pretty, and my grandma Marshall and Andrus both made their wedding dresses, so sewing really does run in the family.”
One of Marshall’s great-great-grandmothers had one of the first sewing machines in the Rexburg area.
“It was one of the treadle sewing machines,” Marshall said.
Through studying sewing in school, Marshall learned more about her ancestors on the Marshall side of the family, and because of that, sewing has been something she’s loved ever since.
Marshall said sewing and fashion can be very demanding with time limits and deadlines to meet. Marshall spoke of a few times when she has felt the guiding hand of her great-grandma when she’s lost in a stitch and can’t remember how to do it.
“I’ve had some really cool experiences in the major that I’m in,” Marshall said. “Sister Orme, my professor, always says that the little grandmas that are on the other side of the veil come back and help. I’ve had several experiences where I’m stuck and say ‘I can’t remember how to do that stitch, I don’t know what I’m doing, and I don’t want to have to go back to the book,’ then immediately it will pop into my head and the Spirit is like ‘just do it this way’ and it’s really, really simply remedied.”
Sometimes the students in the apparel entrepreneurship department will stay up really late, even till 1 a.m. on campus, to finish projects on time.
One person who has really inspired and encouraged Marshall along the way is Genet Orme, a professor at BYU-I.
“She always has this mantra that she jokes around with like ‘it’ll work, it’s always going to work,’ and she just stays so positive,” Marshall said. “She has so many things that she’s gone through in her life. She totally inspires me in that way too. She’s so optimistic and I hope to become at least to some degree as good as she is at that.”
Marshall is one of the oldest of 12 in her family. When she was younger, Marshall said they moved around a lot for her dad’s medical school and jobs. This taught her a lot about getting through hard things.
“In life you just have to roll with the punches,” Marshall said. “Since I grew up moving all the time till seventh grade, it took me a long time to learn to make friends and it was hard for me to let go of people, so the people that I do have in my life I try not to take them for granted.”
Through the exploration of her family history and coming back from her mission, Marshall discovered an excitement for the future. She wants to be able to make prom and wedding dresses for her own daughters and someday possibly open her own sewing business for tailoring and alterations, therefore making her Grandmas’ past her present and future.