March 28, 1977 12:00 PM

Anna Allen Zapp, 29, has been sewing since she was 12. “My grandmother gave me my first sewing machine, and I began making doll dresses,” she recalls. Today her models are real. Four years ago singer John Denver poked his head into Anna’s converted 1957 bread truck at the Aspen Mining Days Fair and spied her collection of glittery, handmade Western shirts. Since then Anna has designed most of Denver’s stage clothes, including a ski suit that took her more than 100 hours to make. She also has turned out dozens of pieces for Denver’s personal wardrobe. Anna now numbers among her customers Denver’s wife, Annie, Robert and Lola Redford, Michael Murphy and Tom Paxton. Born and raised in Memphis and a graduate of Memphis State, Anna began her business with her recently estranged husband, Rennie. Each of them had tried—and given up—teaching. “I taught algebra and science to a bunch of rowdy junior high kids,” she says. “I lasted one and a half months.” When her marriage broke up, she took over and named the business Anna Zapp Designs, Ltd. Anna has added a manufactured line that retails for about $27. Her custom shirts sell for $50 to $400, and next summer she plans a shop in Boulder, Colo.

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