Kim has owned and operated Kim's Upholstery Shop in her home town of W. Lafayette, Indiana since 1999. After graduating from the Defense Language Institute and serving in the US Army, she returned to Indiana to live and work. Taught by her grandmother to fashion custom slipcovers, she loved hearing the stories behind people's furniture and why the individual chair or sofa meant so much to them. It motivated her to help people make their family heirlooms beautiful to use by expanding into the field of furniture upholstery. It turned out to be a vocation she really loved, and which had the added benefit of allowing her to be with her 4 children at home while working to support them.
As her business grew, she moved the workshop to a building just 2 miles from the house she grew up in, and has been successfully in operation at that location for 16 years. Her main focus is on residential upholstery, slipcovers, and commercial seating.
Kim taught cushion construction for Slipcover America from 2006 to 2009. Seeing a need for further peer support in the field of upholstery, she organized the Upholstery Fair in 2010, a 3-day conference with classes taught by prominent upholsterers and soft furnishers, and attended by tradespeople from around the US and Canada.
Susan Sifakis is the owner of SUESEWN based in Lancaster, Massachusetts. Sewing was always something that Sue has done, beginning in her home economics class in high school and even sewing matching dresses for her daughters as they were growing up. But, Susan’s career in the window coverings industry began in 1995 when she attended Cheryl Strickland’s week-long class on how to run a drapery business. Now, SUESEWN focuses on draperies, slipcovers, and upholstery, but Susan said she is motivated to do anything that might require a needle and thread because she enjoys the challenge of learning new concepts and techniques.
In 2006, Susan joined the WCAA and over the years has served as the President, Vice President, and Secretary of the Eastern Massachusetts Chapter. Now, she brings her talents to the NUA.
Why volunteer for NUA?: Through out the years, people have shared and given their knowledge of the business to me, so I like to return the gift of giving back to others in the business.
What is your level of experience with upholstery?: I'm a professional with 26 years in the soft furnishing business, a mix of draperies, slipcovering, and upholstery.
What brought you to upholstery?: It was for myself need. I had furniture I wanted to change and knew I could do it.
Committee MemberHaving grown up in the furniture industry, it's all Andrew knows and is truly a passion. The trade taught Andrew to have a strong work ethic, high attention to detail, and the desire to please every client. In his work, Andrew restores yesterday's furniture for today's world and creates beautiful soft furnishings and beds for those who seek quality materials and have a custom design.
While not at work he enjoys time with his wife of 13 years and 3 kids, being involved with the youth at his local church, and outdoor activities.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: To further promote the Upholstery trade and grow
What is your level of experience in upholstery?: Complete Furniture Upholsterer
What brought you to upholstery?: Family Business and a passion for restoring tired furniture.
Grace Reff is the Development Director at Peters Valley School of Craft, a national center for fine craft education in New Jersey. She has 10 years of experience in arts nonprofit development roles, including at The Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC); the Center for Craft, Creativity & Design (NC); and Penland School of Craft (NC). She holds a Masters in Decorative Arts, Material Culture, and Design History from Bard, where she completed her thesis on a butaque chair design.
Grace is currently a bright-eyed student of upholstery; she took her first class with Mike Mascelli in early 2020. She is enthusiastic about thinking through how we can support and advance the future of the upholstery field in the United States through education, advocacy, and building community.
Terry is married to Joy Knollenberg, owner and sole employee of Springlake Upholstery, Manito, IL, formerly Joy’s Upholstery. Joy has been doing upholstery since 1973 with Terry being her do-everything-but-upholstery assistant.Terry grew up on a farm near Easton, IL learning his work ethic from the hard work required of farming. He graduated from Easton Community High School in 1965 and hired into Caterpillar Tractor Company immediately after graduation. In 1966 Terry joined the United States Marine Corps and served on active duty for three years, serving one year in Vietnam in an 81MM Mortar platoon and then the remaining time as a reconciliation clerk in the fiscal office at Camp Pendleton, CA.
Terry returned to Caterpillar upon discharge from the service and worked on his education while working full time. He received his bachelor’s degree in management from University of Illinois, Springfield, IL in 1982. In 2009, Terry retired from Caterpillar, Inc. after 44+ years of service.
Now retired, he currently volunteers for several organizations, including the Lions Club and his church.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: They put out a request for someone to become Treasurer and my wife told me I should volunteer.
What is your level of experience in upholstery? Gofer and furniture mover for my wife. She is the upholsterer. Joy has been upholstering for almost 40 years.
Harmony is a corporate professional by day and upholsterer by night. She holds a Bachelors in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and currently manages the pricing strategy for a multinational company. When she's not developing pricing strategy or presenting to a room full of C-suite professionals, Harmony is growing her upholstery business or volunteering for the National Upholstery Association.
In her downtime, Harmony enjoys knitting, yoga, visiting museums, and reading books about upholstery and furniture restoration.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: As a new upholsterer, I was looking for a place to find information and to network with others in the trade. Volunteering was an excellent way for me to meet people in the association – and I’ve made a few friends along the way!
What is your level of experience in upholstery?: I’ve been upholstering since early 2018. I officially launched my upholstery business in 2020 when I started taking on paying clients. I originally joined the NUA on a student membership and I’m still on my learning journey - I don’t think you ever stop being a student in a skilled trade.
What brought you to upholstery?: I have an obsession with 18th and 19th century furniture, amplified in part because my spouse is a period furniture maker. My very first upholstered piece was a Federal-style reproduction lolling chair he built. From there, I gained additional experience upholstering period reproduction furniture crafted by students at a woodworking school near me. I live in the Boston metro area, home to a rich history of American furniture with many surviving examples dating back as early as the 17th century. As a result, it seemed natural to choose traditional upholstery as my specialty. My favorite part of the process is tearing down an antique piece and finding clues about its origins – like previous tack holes, repairs, or even early fabric remnants!
Claire is a mermaid from the desert; a self-taught entrepreneur with a deep passion for sustainability. With her strong will and determination, Claire has grown her own business from the ground up, starting on San Juan Island, Washington and now located in Carbondale, Colorado. Her one-of-a-kind, one-woman business called Coshecha Textiles offers upholstery services, custom sewing, community DIY nights, and learning-to-sew classes. Not only did she build her business, but she recently built her workshop using mostly salvaged materials and on a tight budget with the help of her beloved fiancé and very cute dog. Learn more about what Claire is up to in the Great Rocky Mountains by following her on Instagram and checking out her website and Facebook page.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: To build community and help support the growth of this growing organization.
What is your level of experience in upholstery? Professional - self taught, self employed for 6 years and counting
What brought you to upholstery?: Love for sewing and sustainability
Audrey owns Sewing Den LLC in Ashburn, Virginia. Providing both upholstery and workroom services, she enjoys the variety in her shop. Audrey has a degree in Music Education from Shepherd College and spent ten years as a National Park Ranger (complete with the Smokey the Bear hat!) at Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts as well as two other DC area National Parks. She’s a mother of two young boys and wife to a tall Ranger husband.
After college, Lewis had the opportunity to apprentice under a Master Upholsterer, traditionally trained in Germany. He quickly progressed and eventually managed the upholstery department. He then apprenticed in the area’s oldest auto upholstery company, learning auto upholstery and designing custom interiors for show cars.
The next chapter was performing over 1,000 upholstery repairs a year while working for the largest furniture retailer in the country. This job included working closely with the Engineering Departments of furniture manufacturers to improve their products. It was during this period that he joined both the National Guild of Master Upholsterers and the National Association of Professional Upholsterers; and wrote articles for both of their publications.
Lewis then started to work for the manufacturers of upholstered furniture in various positions of product development engineering, management and furniture design, while along the way inventing and receiving patents. Following a life-long pursuit of knowledge, he has amassed a furniture library of over 3,000 books and probably the best collection on upholstery.
Jeanne Henzel Swartz
Webinar Subcommittee Member
Jeanne is a fine artist and upholsterer working in Northern California. She opened her first business specializing in slipcovers in 1999. Since then she has broadened the business's horizons into modern and traditional upholstery, window treatments, and large scale upholstered sculpture/seating for west coast museums.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: I'm excited to help move the industry forward and encourage our members work smarter and better!
What is your level of experience in upholstery? 21 years
What brought you to upholstery?: Prior to becoming self-employed, I was as a costume designer and technician for high level professional theaters. I was making slipcovers for a colleague who ran a side hustle. In 1999, I had been laid off from my job in the first dot-com bust and my friend with the slipcover business asked me if I wanted to buy it because she was moving to New York City to get her Masters degree. I said yes and the rest is history. Though I started out specializing in slipcovers, the leap to upholstery and curtains was easy to make thanks to my training in sculpture and the theatre, where I was always being called to make or invent new three dimensional forms.
Jill Ragan Scully
Webinar Subcommittee Chair
2020 Volunteer of the Year Award
Thank you Jill!
Born in the Midwest, Jill grew up in Minnesota, started college in Wisconsin, took a brief hiatus to travel as a flight attendant, and then continued her studies in Minnesota where she received a thorough education in interior design, window treatment design/fabrication, and a little in upholstery. Jill started Impressive Windows & Interiors LLC when her kids were very little, and just before they left the nest, she expanded her design showroom in downtown Hastings, Minnesota, added an online store, and began an industry trade program as well as a cordless shade distribution company focused on child-safety. Needless to say, Jill am a compulsive multi-tasker and organizational wizard.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: Throughout my soft furnishing career, I have been fortunate to forge strong relationships with my peers worldwide and consider myself a "connector" within my colleagues. I am a problem solver, a doer, a compulsive organizer, and I believe that you can always learn something new no matter how much you know. I have taught in-person and online classes with The Custom Home Furnishings Academy, the International Window Coverings Expo (IWCE), and the Window Fashions Certified Professionals (WFCP) as their Design and Workroom Certification director from 2008-2019 and feel very comfortable in the webinar world. Therefore, the webinar chair seemed perfect for my skill set.
What is your level of experience in upholstery?: I have been in the soft furnishing business since 1998, as an interior designer and window treatment specialist. I added upholstery services about 5 years ago.
What brought you to upholstery?: My Dad is an award-winning and published auto and marine upholsterer. He taught me early on how to make bench cushions and we have worked together on several residential projects before his retirement about 10 years ago.
Michelle is an upholsterer specializing in residential furniture. She is passionate about creating and working with her hands. Whether it’s rescuing old furniture, building her own furniture, gardening, or renovating with her husband you will always find her knee deep in a project. She actively blogged about her DIY adventures from 2011 to 2018 until life and business got too busy.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: Finding my tribe of fellow Upholsterer’s made all the difference in my journey. I wanted to be part of helping create a strong Upholstery Community. I am passionate about sharing knowledge, supporting & encouraging fellow upholsterers.
What is your level of experience in upholstery? Professional - 7 years in business, describe your interest): For me it’s all about giving new life to the old and discarded. My favorite client projects are those that are family or just special pieces with a story.
What brought you to upholstery?: I fell into the upholstery trade by accident. As a DIY blogger looking for a project I decided to try my hand at re-upholstering an old chair and fell in love with the transformation process.
Q2 2021 Volunteer of the Quarter Award
Monica Rhodes is the sole proprietor of Monday Wash Furniture in Chicago, IL. She has degrees in Anthropology and Southeast Asian Studies from the University of Michigan and a Masters’ Degree in Public Health from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Monica worked in Thailand and Vietnam, on the Pacific islands of Saipan and Guam, and in refugee communities in Utica, NY, Long Beach and Los Angeles, CA and Chicago, IL before taking a necessary hiatus. When it came time to return to work, she surprised herself by choosing to rescue and reupholster discarded furniture. She has committed herself passionately to this mission, learning everything she can in every way she can imagine, and is excited to have this opportunity to support the NUA.
Why did you volunteer for the NUA?: I have benefitted so much from my membership in the NUA that I feel it is right to do what I can to contribute to the Association and its mission.
What is your level of experience in upholstery?: Professional in business for 3.5 years. I have much more experience writing, which is why I feel that writing is the best way for me to contribute to the NUA, right now, as I continue to gain experience as an upholsterer.
What brought you to upholstery?: One day, my husband and I were talking and he asked me: “If you could do anything in the world as your job, what would it be?” Before I even had a chance to think, the words “fix furniture” jumped out of my mouth. I began by re-imagining and restyling discarded furniture - which I still love to do - and gradually included custom upholstery as a part of my business.
Rachel Fletcher, Owner of Knox Upholstery in Knoxville, Tennessee, is globally respected in the upholstery trade. She is an instructor at the Custom Workroom Conference and administrator of the Professional Upholsterer’s Network, a global group of over 2,800 professional upholsterers. In January 2019, she joined a mini-think tank to help build what is now known as the National Upholstery Association (NUA). In May 2019, Rachel was elected President of the NUA, unanimously, by her peers. Under her leadership, the NUA has grown to 200+ members and provides robust educational offerings.
With a bachelor's degree in communications from Millikin University, her career before upholstery included marketing, advertising and promotional events. Rachel learned how to upholster while working as a theatrical Props Assistant at University of Tennessee - Knoxville. After falling in love with the trade she began her upholstery business out of her home in 2010.
Newsletter Subcommittee Chair
Jamie is focused on exploring furniture waste from the bottom up. Her background is in environmental science, corporate environmental management, and social entrepreneurship.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: I watched the NUA get born from afar, on social media. I followed its progress and rooted it on. I was so excited when I was able to join with others who were also committed to dream up and fight for a future where our trade can thrive. Collective action is what will get us the changes our industry needs.
What is your level of experience in upholstery?: I trained for one year at SF Community College. I worked as an assistant for several months in a tiny upcycled home goods shop. And I spent one year as Director of Impact at one of the largest workshops on the west coast, Kay Chesterfield.
What brought you to upholstery?: Initially, I needed a tactile outlet from my computer/desk/data job. But what kept me was the regenerative business model, the potential to reduce waste, the importance of supporting independent, locally-owned businesses and a skilled trade, and the wonderfully creative, smart, hard-working community. For full disclosure, my grandpa was an upholsterer. Though his projects were all in auto trimming by the time I came around, my dad and uncles tell countless stories about stripping client's furniture in the garage when they were young. Though I started in upholstery long after my grandpa passed on, I am honored to carry on his legacy in my own small way.
Q1 2021 Volunteer of the Quarter Award
Lindsey has a BA in Advertising and MA in Technical Communication and currently works full time as technical writer for a software company. A life-long thrifter and lover of good craftmanship, she long-harbored a desire to learn how to reupholster furniture, collecting tools and books on the subject for years before finally taking the plunge and reupholstering her first chair in 2018.
She lives with her two kids, three cats, and one cat-like dog in West Texas.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: For the community and inspiration that comes with working with people who are doing what they love and passionate about the craft.
What is your level of experience in upholstery?: I'm a snail-paced, self-taught student--cobbling together a curriculum of online resources and books and learning as I go.
What brought you to upholstery?: I've been thrifting my entire life and wanted to save all of the beautifully made but well worn pieces I encountered on my hunts.
Social Media Manager
In 2009, Rhonda found an upholstery class through her local extension office in Wichita, Kansas. She worked on several pieces for her own home and found it wonderful to be able to restore and refurbish antique and vintage chairs. Rhonda and her family moved to Colorado and she continued to learn with upholstery education online. She started The Whimsical Chair in 2014.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: It’s important to me to support the upholstery industry. I have made some amazing friends this past year in the NUA.
What is your level of experience in upholstery?: I’ve been doing upholstery for 12 years. I started my business 7 years ago.
What brought you to upholstery: I’ve been sewing since I was a little girl. I have always loved beautiful furniture and whimsical textiles. It just made sense that I would love doing upholstery.
Carla owns Natural Upholstery based in Livingston, Montana. An obsessive explorer, she has worked as a wildlife biologist, textile artist, and upholsterer. She and her woodworker husband developed a line of mid-century style accent chairs before turning to restoration of existing furniture. Taking a cue from the generosity of her upholstery mentor, Carla teaches beginner workshops, and educates all levels in the use of natural & organic foundation materials in the modern method. In her mind, the trade stands as a captivating testament to our cultural history and holds infinite potential as a medium for artistic expression.
Volunteer Development Assistant
After growing up in Tucson AZ and graduating from the University of Arizona, Debbie embarked upon a career always involved in the human resources side of business - staffing, management, career coaching and outplacement - teaching and guiding people through job transitions. Along the way, she authored some books, The Career Discovery Journal, Everyone Wants to Hear You, and What Now? A Woman's Guide to Creating her After-50 Future. She continue to work in the outplacement field part-time while planning her post-career future, which will allow for more time for working with upholstery and mosaic art.
Debbie has a small part-time upholstery business, focusing on bringing new vibrant fabrics to old chairs. She lives in Oceanside CA with her husband Brad and pup, Trixie.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: I've put a lot of thought into where I can lend my background and skills while helping others, and at the same time feel excited about the mission and members of an organization. That led me to think about NUA and how I could contribute. I have business and HR related background to share while getting to work with creative, skilled upholsterers, whose work I greatly admire.
What is your level of experience in upholstery?: I am a novice upholsterer, perhaps at a low intermediate level. I've had my small part-time business for 3 years and have mainly worked on small projects for friends and myself.
What brought you to upholstery?: A lifelong love of fabric (my mom taught me to sew at an early age), the art of taking apart and then putting things back together, and upholstery classes offered through a local community college. I started following upholsterers on social media and wanted to get more involved.
Why did you want to volunteer for the NUA?: To be among a community of great talent and do what I can to help achieve and support the association's goals.
What is your level of experience in upholstery? Hobbyist/Student - In May of 2015, after gaining some confidence from online searches and videos, I built and upholstered my first piece, a large ottoman. I became a student under the instruction of Cynthia Bleskachek in December of 2015 and continued attending classes and developing skills under her wing for the next two years.
*I have since pushed the pause button to start a family, but continue to create in my "free" time.
What brought you to upholstery?: My interest in custom home furnishings and bringing new life to cherished pieces.