By Kim Constantinesco
Hilda Mayr, 69, may be just a seamstress, but her work will be seen by more than 100 million people come Super Bowl Sunday.
This Denver-based modern-day Betsy Ross has been entrusted by the Denver Broncos to sew the prestigious Super Bowl 50 patches onto their jerseys.
It’s not an out-of-the-ordinary request, however. Mayr did their Super Bowl XLVIII patches two years ago, and has been doing uniform repairs, alterations, and name plates for the team for 15 years out of her store, Hilda’s Fine Tailoring.
“It’s an honor to do this work. It makes me feel good,” Mayr said.
She’s a uniform surgeon, who often works 12 hours a day, six days a week, adjusting more than just Broncos orange and blue. Out of her store, which offers full-service dry cleaning and alterations, Mayr sees everyone from business men with coffee-stained button-down shirts to high school girls heading off to their first prom.
“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Mayr said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Carrying The Team By Herself
After each Broncos’ game, Mayr picks up the team’s jerseys after they’ve been washed and air-dried by the equipment managers. Then she gets to work patching holes, repairing elastic bands, and win or lose, putting “Band-Aids” on the common brutal hits that leave scars on fabric.
She also hems the coaches’ pants at the beginning of the season, and even stays up until 10:00 p.m. on draft night to sew name plates on for incoming players who have a press conference the next morning.
Although Mayr’s husband, Herbert, helps at the store, and they have four part-time employees, when it comes to Broncos’ work, Mayr covers the load herself.
“I do everything for them because I know how to do it,” Mayr said. “We don’t want to have ‘this’ missing or ‘that missing,’ so I basically concentrate on that during the season.”
Mayr spent the first 14 years of her life in a small country town 45 minutes outside of Nuremberg, Germany. In 1960, and with family in the U.S., she moved to Chicago, where she cultivated her interest in sewing. She went to the Art Institute in Chicago and studied fashion design. She worked for Neiman Marcus, and then Broadway Southwest, another department store with a location in Denver.
Wanting to venture out and away from the corporate world, Mayr decided to start her own business out of her home.
“It came to a point where I needed space, and I didn’t want customers coming to the house day and night,” Mayr said. “I decided to open a small shop with just two machines.”
Then the Broncos became her most notable and reliable client. During the final year that John Elway played, a customer who knew the Broncos’ seamstress was about to retire, told Mayr that the team was going to be on the hunt for a new one.
“We approached the team and we got it,” Mayr said. “We’re very well known in the Denver area, so it wasn’t a problem.”
A Big Week
Mayr never watched football before taking on the Broncos as clients. She watches with a keen interest now, but only when her beloved orange and blue clad guys are playing.
“I go to some home games, but only when it’s warm,” Mayr said.
As soon as the confetti dropped following the AFC Championship win over the New England Patriots, she knew it was going to be a busy week.
She received about 75 jerseys from the team two days after the game (Some players have more than one jersey and Peyton Manning has a team-high of six).
She got to work on repairs and spent all day Tuesday and half of Wednesday sewing those symbolic Super Bowl 50 patches onto the left side of each player’s chest. Each patch took her five to six minutes, and then the Broncos threw a few more uniform requests at her on Wednesday night. By Thursday morning, she was done. The team took photos in their jerseys that day, and then they were packed up and shipped to California.
Mayr isn’t about the publicity. In fact, she would prefer not to be in the limelight.
“I’m trying to be very low key with this, but the word is out,” Mayr said of people knowing that she handles the team’s attire.
With that comes added responsibility.
“We have so many different customers and everybody wants me to help them and wants my attention,” Mayr said. “I’m just really happy to be able to help satisfy probably 99% of the people who come in.”
After the Super Bowl, Mayr will mend the jerseys again. Then, it’s time for another season — prom season. After that, it’s wedding season.
“That’s where it really becomes challenging,” Mayr said of working with brides and wedding parties.
The Super Bowl? Over 100 million people? For Mayr, that’s a walk in the park.