Blog

The latest news and blog posts from the National Upholstery Association.  All members can read and comment on blog posts.

Industry Partners and Educator members are invited to guest blog for the NUA twice a year. Contact us if you're interested. 

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  • June 28, 2022 8:45 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    By Harmony Maraldo

    Thank you to all our members who completed our second annual Member Survey! Below is a summary of this year’s results.

    General Demographics

    The National Upholstery Association consists of Professionals, Educators, Industry Partners, Students, and Retirees of the upholstery trade. Our current mix of member levels is as follows:

    • 70% Professionals
    • 8% Educators
    • 5% Industry Partners
    • 14% Students
    • 3% Retirees
    Compared to last year, we saw a small uptick in the educator category.

    Our members overwhelmingly joined the NUA for educational and networking opportunities

    We saw similar results last year, so this is no surprise. The National Upholstery Association is working hard to expand our educational and network offerings.

    Some of our offerings include:

    • Quarterly Newsletter – Stay abreast of NUA community and industry news
    • Monthly Educational Webinars – On varying upholstery and business-related topics
    • Community Meetings – Meet your peers, ask questions, and join the discussion
    • Monthly Member Updates – New! Monthly update of upcoming NUA events and news
    • NUA Blog – Read stories about fellow members and industry experts
    • Annual Pricing Survey – see how your pricing matches up to other professionals in your area
    • Fire Regs Resources & FAQ – learn about the new law and how it may affect your business
    • Recommended Reading – book lists compiled by topic
    • Trade Show Representation – come say hi to our volunteers and Board members at our booth at FME and CWC this year. Sign up to join us on a field trip to Colonial Williamsburg while attending CWC!

    *Items marked in RED are available to members only

    This year we are also working to expand our Educator Directory and enhance our Recommended Reading page. Stay tuned for updates!

    The NUA receives high praise for our Webinars and Newsletters

    Our webinars are top-notch and available only to members. Join the webinars live (we usually have a Q&A at the end!) or catch the replay on demand. A list of past webinars can be found on our website (Members – please access on-demand webinars here).

    We love our Newsletters, too! Our curated content includes upcoming event updates, industry news, member spotlights, and more. Have some news about your business you want to share with the world? Read a great article you want to share? Send us an email to let us know and we’ll consider including it in our next publication!

    Member Discounts (still) rate lowest among our membership perks

    How embarrassing! We could cite a number of reasons why this benefit has been so difficult to implement, but instead of making excuses, we’re taking action. This year, we’re doubling-down on growing our relationships with our Industry Partners (IPs) – including vendors with whom our members do business.  We’re working on expanding our IP benefits, and we’ll be exhibiting at the Furniture Manufacturing Expo this year – schmoozing and networking with vendors on behalf of our members.

    We believe the NUA provides mutual benefit between our members and Industry Partners. We aim to highlight and promote our best partners, giving them an opportunity to market to a highly targeted audience. In return, we hope to snag exclusive offers for NUA members, not available anywhere else. If you are an Industry Partner and want a premium promotional spot on our website and on social media, please email us and we’ll gladly be in contact with you.

    When asked about additional benefits, our members were most interested in access to a regular news feed highlighting industry news and research

    Last year, we began including industry news in our Newsletters, and people liked that. We also joined LinkedIn, where we’ve begun sharing newsworthy articles from the upholstery industry. If you use LinkedIn, we welcome you to follow us to receive news to your feed!

    Still, we know there is more work to do in this area. We’ll be looking at other ways to connect our members to industry news. If you have any specific suggestions, ideas, or want to volunteer to tackle this project, send us an email – we’d be happy to hear from you!

    Our members overwhelmingly want to receive important information via email – not social media

    We hear your feedback! The NUA has become more deliberate in our communication with members over the past year. While we still post event reminders to social media, we recently began sending Monthly Member Updates via email – a compilation of upcoming events and news from the NUA and the upholstery industry. We’ve also gotten better at sending individual emails for big news – such as the launch of our Fire Regs page and FAQ.

    Members: Not receiving our member emails or newsletters? Log into your account, go to your Profile, choose the Edit Profile button, then click on the Email Subscriptions tab. Ensure your subscription boxes are checked!

    Conclusion

    The National Upholstery Association’s programs are made possible through your membership dues and the support of our dedicated volunteers. To all our members - thank you for your support and for being a part of our community.

    If you want to get more involved, consider applying to become a volunteer. We are also recruiting for Committee Chairs, so if you’re a natural leader or looking to build experience leading a team, we want to hear from you!

    Harmony Maraldo
    President

  • April 07, 2022 9:43 AM | Lindsey Ring (Administrator)

    By Monica Rhodes, NUA Volunteer and Owner of Monday Wash Furniture

    On the day I had the honor of interviewing Lindsay Orwig, owner of A Chick and a Chair Upholstery, about her work and the establishment of the Professional Upholsterer’s Network on Facebook, she began by saying that she never intended it to be known as “the PUN”. She, herself, steadfastly referred to it as “the Network”, but it just didn’t stick. Lindsay believes it was Kate Malfroy (Rapt! Upholstery) who first referred to the collective community as “PUNsters” - and that was that. “You can’t control a runaway train,” says Lindsay laughing.

    Given this, I initially thought I’d be clever and title this blog “PUN not Intended”, but as I went over my notes, and reflected on Lindsay words, one thing became abundantly clear: the commonly used moniker “the PUN” may not have been intentional, but the Professional Upholsterers’ Network is, to its core, an intentional community – created for a specific purpose and guided by thoughtful, rock-solid values that reinforce and ensure its integrity. That purpose is “to be a place to ask questions and get your questions answered, to share knowledge or ask for help. The key to that,” says Lindsay, “is you have to be kind.”


    To this end, “the PUN is actively moderated,” says Lindsay. “Not to censorship, but from verifying that folks are actually professional upholsterers, to making sure a kind tone is set within the group. We're building a community, and we want it to be the very best community that it can be.” Featured at the top of the PUN’s Facebook page is a post by Justin Dazey, one of its five administrators, which includes the following passages: “We have rules on kindness for a reason. We are here to be a supportive group. It's difficult to offer meaningful support in a group of relative strangers without an emphasis on kindness. Before commenting, take a moment to consider why you are choosing to share the feedback you are about to offer. If the answer is anything but focused on the growth or benefit of the receiver, it's best to just skip the comment altogether…Put the benefit of the advised first and the rest will follow naturally. Share to lift up not to beat down.”

    In a group that has grown to be a staggering 3,500 upholsterers strong, that can be a pretty tall order. I believe the old adage, “Management sets the tone”. It certainly applies here. Lindsay’s kindness shines bright in every aspect of her work: her relationships with clients, her social media, her teaching (as a lead instructor at Cynthia Bleskachek’s the Funky Little Chair) and the PUN. Faith in Lindsay’s kindness led me to reach out to her during my first weeks of business ownership to ask a question about bookkeeping. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t rebuff me but, at the same time, I didn’t really expect her to respond to me, a nobody in the trade. To the contrary, Lindsay messaged me almost immediately - responding in a way that made me feel more valid than inexperienced. After that I thought: With this woman managing the PUN, I can feel safe looking for help there. That’s important because, believe me, I have a lot of questions and some of them are pretty basic. Lindsay is quick to note that she could not do this alone and she credits the Network’s team of administrators for the group’s continuing success. “They’re not just moderators,” Lindsay explains, “we all have the same administrative powers and nobody’s judgement outweighs the others’.”


    The Professional Upholsterer’s Network was born of necessity tempered by consideration. Lindsay began her upholstery business five years ago. She had recently moved to Minnesota, and had begun re-upholstering second-hand furniture as a hobby. One day, she was chatting with a woman at her neighborhood dog park. Before Lindsay could even finish describing her new found hobby, the woman had asked for a business card and had inquired about the possibility of hiring her. Lindsay demurred, after all it was just a hobby. A couple of weeks later, Lindsay, who admits she’s a talker, was conversing with the receptionist at her doctor’s office - and the same thing happened. There’s something here, Lindsay thought.

    The response to her upholstery hobby was so different from the response she’d received as a commissioned mural painter before the move, so much more energized and enthusiastic.  Lindsay went on to do work for family and friends, devouring books and videos to develop her skills. After a time, a woman from church approached Lindsay and asked her to reupholster two heirloom chairs. Lindsay explained that she was not a professional. “I know,” said the woman, “but I trust you.” When the woman came to pick up her newly re-upholstered mid-century chairs (in teal – Lindsay’s favorite color), Lindsay had covered them with a blanket. She pulled it off for the big reveal and the woman, who had always been reserved and soft spoken, started jumping up and down and yelling “eeeee, eeeee, eeeee” before gathering Lindsay up in a hug. Lindsay thought, I LIKE this! and decided to go pro.


    Lindsay took advantage of the fact that Cynthia Bleskachek, a master upholsterer and powerhouse educator in the trade, was local. She studied hands on with Cynthia as well as with the late great master upholsterer Steve Cone. “I have 10 million questions at all times,” says Lindsay. “I’m like a toddler always asking, ‘why?,why?,why?’ Once I understand the why, then I understand the how.” Realizing that it would be too burdensome to constantly unload truckloads of questions on Cynthia and Steve, Lindsay decided to invite upholsterers she admired to a Facebook group to exchange information. Thus, the PUN was born.

    When I ask Lindsay if it took off like a snowball rolling down hill, she shakes her head, “It did not.” Several months in, the group was hovering around a couple hundred members, most of whom were pretty quiet. “It was crickets a lot of the time,” Lindsay says. Around then, she discovered Jack Carr’s Professional Upholstery and Soft Furnishings page (which has since been shut down and archived). “It was really good,” she says. Lindsay started to think that maybe the PUN wasn’t necessary, but David Yougdahl, a consistently supportive member, urged her not to quit. “What you’ve got here is something good. You have something special going on.”

    So, Lindsay hung in until, one day, “somebody was just really nasty, really mean, and I thought - What are we doing?”  Lindsay was on the verge of giving up when David Youngdahl, Rachel Fletcher (Knox Upholstery) and Ragne Smith (Felix Hart) each contacted her individually, not simply to console her, but to help her make things better. These three became group moderators, and later full- fledged administrators, working tirelessly to uphold the positive tone and values of the group 24/7. “I know that Rachel and Ragne consider the PUN as much their baby as I do,” Lindsay says. Justin Dazey was brought on board soon before David abdicated due to family concerns and, more recently, Chrisi Creel Mitchell joined the team. Lindsay explains that they all have different personalities and approaches, some applying a soft touch, others drawing a harder line, but they are all steady and strong and dedicated to upholding the same values of kindness, consideration and support. Lindsay describes the combined force of the PUN administrative team so well. “Sometimes 2+2 doesn’t equal 4. Sometimes 2+2 equals 10. More than 10.” The administrators are a force as evidenced by the fact that this group of well over three thousand people has welcomed and absorbed their guidance and, now, largely self regulates toward true kindness, real support and the enthusiastic sharing of knowledge - keeping one another in line as the administrators stand ready to step in as necessary.


    “This team is amazing,” says Lindsay. “That’s why the group is what it is. The PUN is all about feedback - giving it, receiving it. You have to be receptive to both. I checked the stats on the page, and on average, I found that over 80% of our members were actively participating! I don't know if that's typical of groups, but that seems high to me. That means that over 80% of our members are liking, commenting, and posting on the page - that's huge! It means we don't have a lot of lurkers just watching and looking, but actively engaged. This is how we build community!”

    And what a fantastic community it is. If you are a professional upholsterer interested in learning from, supporting and helping others in the trade - and you haven’t joined the Professional Upholsterer’s Network already – please, stop by and pull up a chair.

    (Pun intended.)

    You can find more from Lindsay on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and of course, the PUN

  • January 13, 2022 2:25 PM | Jamie Facciola (Administrator)

    To all active members, dedicated volunteers, supporters, social media sharers, and friends of the National Upholstery Association: THANK YOU. Thank you for supporting our organization and the upholstery trade.

    We see you – busier than ever, short staffed, and overworked. The ongoing pandemic has provided both challenges and opportunities for our industry. On one hand, we’re seeing an extraordinary interest in reupholstery services, as people spend more time at home and choose sustainability over convenience. On the other hand, we’re confronting labor shortages; our seasoned colleagues are retiring, but lack of training and career opportunities in the United States mean there are few qualified upholsterers to take their place.

    The National Upholstery Association has a vision of reestablishing the systems that provide professional development opportunities, apprenticeship paths, support groups, grants and scholarships, hiring and placement assistance, training opportunities, and ongoing education to current upholstery professionals and those interested in entering the upholstery trade. But it's a long road, and we're just getting started.

    This year, the NUA celebrated its second birthday. Oh, how far we’ve come already! It took an extraordinary effort to lay the foundation groundwork; to create the non-profit entity, establish a budget, build a Board of Directors, develop initial programs, launch a website, solicit membership, recruit volunteers, and more. A huge thank you to our Association Founders for having a vision and volunteering their time toward execution of what is arguably the most mundane task of non-profit startup and administration.

    In 2021, with the groundwork laid, we turned our focus to developing programs and resources for the industry. However, our focus did not come without challenges of its own; as upholstery shops became overwhelmed with work, many of our dedicated volunteers took time off from their volunteer efforts to focus on their businesses, their families, and their mental health. The NUA is 100% volunteer-run, so we recalibrated our short-term goals in 2021, scaling back our efforts and focusing on the programs that are most important to our members. To those who gave their time – a little or a lot – we thank you, and invite you to return to service as time allows. And to those volunteers who continue to work tirelessly for the NUA while juggling their families and careers, we appreciate you for the heroes you are!

    I am so proud of what we accomplished in 2021. Some of our triumphs include:

    • Launching the 7 Reasons to Choose Reupholstery campaign, which included shareable graphics to highlight on our members’ websites and social media

    • Conducting our first annual Member Survey, where we asked our members what they want and how we can best communicate with them

    • Initiating our first annual Pricing Survey, establishing baseline pricing for common upholstery services by region, service area, and shop size (results available to members only)

    • Opening the NUA Shop, a place to buy NUA-branded merchandise and show your support for the Association

    • Building a stronger relationship with our Industry Partners, in turn producing new Discounts available to NUA members (and more in the works!)

    • Holding monthly Webinars on topics including: fire regulations, working with designers, history of upholstered furniture, social media, leather, online training resources, business resources, and more (active members have access to on-demand replays)

    • Moderating monthly Community Meetings on topics including: pricing, customer service, workflow best practices, new upholstery and custom furniture design, regional meetups, and more

    • Growing social media reach; year-over-year growth of 37% for Instagram followers, 10% for Facebook, and 29% for our Quarterly Newsletter. Our total followers across all platforms hover around 5,000 today. We also joined LinkedIn this year, so please connect with us there. And if you don’t already receive our Newsletter, consider subscribing - it’s the best way to learn what’s going on around the NUA and in the upholstery industry.

    • Posting a variety of industry-relevant resources on our blog, including Industry Partner Spotlights, Educator Spotlights, Interviews, Industry Resources, and more. A special shout-out to Monica Rhodes, blogger extraordinaire, who writes and curates this content specifically for our members!

    But that’s not all. We’ve also begun work on near-and mid-term projects such as: 

    • Preparing for participation in Industry Events and Trade Shows, such as the Custom Workroom Conference

    • Launching the NUA Ambassadors Program, through which members can organize Regional Meetups and other networking opportunities with the assistance of the NUA

     We’ve also started gathering preliminary research into several long-term goals, including:

    • Developing a comprehensive directory of Upholstery Educators in the United States, both online and in-person, by region

    • Establishing an Educator Think Tank and Professional Development Committee, with the goal of tackling the imminent shortage of labor and connecting upholstery candidates to career paths

    Our success is driven by the support of our members. Your membership dues and contributions allow us to continue our mission of strengthening the upholstery trade. Your financial support allows us to hold networking events, hire webinar speakers, run the website, recognize our volunteers, and meet our very modest operating costs. Did you know that active members can view all NUA Meeting Minutes and Financial Statements? You might be surprised to learn how much work happens behind the scenes.

    Another valuable way to show your support is by volunteering time! We are seeking organized and motivated individuals who would like to help with the research and development of new committees. We’ve received so many excellent ideas from our members - now is the perfect time to help your association start turning those ideas into actions.

    We also have several immediate positions available on our Membership, Public Relations, Volunteer Coordination, Webinar, Events, and Newsletter committees. Are you interested in giving a few hours a month to the cause? Apply now!

    Not a member? No problem. Don’t have time but have a family member or friend interested in gaining non-profit experience? Send them our way! Interested parties are invited to apply on our website.

    I’ve been a volunteer with the National Upholstery Association for the last 18 months, and it’s been an amazing experience. Committee work is incredibly rewarding; not only am I doing my part to amplify the industry, but I feel privileged to communicate and collaborate with so many bright and resourceful upholsterers and upholstery students.  Volunteering has given me an opportunity to network with other professionals in ways that I didn’t know was possible. And I’ve made many friends along the way. I highly recommend it!

    In spite of a challenging year, the National Upholstery Association continued to make headway in its mission. We accomplished amazing things in 2021, and we have more great activities in the works for 2022 and beyond. Our success is a direct result of our members’ financial and volunteer support, and we thank you all for your contributions. Please consider continuing your support by joining our association, renewing your membership, buying merchandise from our shop, or applying to volunteer.

    May all your seams be straight and your patterns matching,

    Harmony Maraldo
    President, National Upholstery Association 2022-2024


  • December 14, 2021 7:11 PM | Jamie Facciola (Administrator)

    By Jamie Facciola, Furniturecycle

    Photo credit: Jamie Facciola

    ‘Unite and rebuild’ proclaimed an article, in 2019, about how an industry once left to perish could be on the verge of a comeback. The idea that the National Upholstery Association, a brand new trade association started solely by women and dedicated to a trade full of tradition, honor and importance, had launched with such little media fanfare, infuriated me. Determined to imagine a narrative beyond the tired, formulaic piece about DIY upholstery or an upholsterer's retirement, I wrote one myself. I typed that proclamation as one of the NUA’s newest volunteers, hungry to join others in collective action at the industry level. I knew already that reliance upon upstream options, such as buying or selling more durable couches, would never deliver a prosperous and thriving reupholstery industry; just as selling more organic carrots has not brought forth more prosperous family farms. The challenges that led the industry to be regularly described as “dying” are so much bigger and more complicated than any one shop; working as an organized group, I believed, was our only chance to counter them.

    Looking Back 

    Just two short years later, the need for the NUA has only intensified. From navigating an unforeseeable pandemic that led to a crushing boom in business, to managing material and labor shortages, conditions grow more complex each day. How can we imagine a collective prosperous future without an organized body committed to its survival? We have an entire industry that needs future-proofing.

    As other associations, like the American Trucking Association, Screen Actors Guild, and the Bar Association, work to stay ahead of changes in their industries--such as the transition to a gig economy and online streaming--we need to, as well. In the last 40-50 years, while we’ve lacked representation and political power, employment in manufacturing has sunk to less than 10% of the American workforce, while imports of wooden furniture soared to 89%. Meanwhile, consumer perception of furniture longevity plummeted, landing at 7.8 years--back in 2006. And furniture waste has exploded: in 2018, over 9.7 million tons of furniture and furnishings, irrespective of quality or reusability, got landfilled, up 450% since 1960. Our connection to labor, craft, quality, materials, community and the environment has been lost. 

    We shouldn’t be surprised then, that in this same amount of time, skilled labor in the repair trades became stigmatized, training hard to access, a livable wage uncertain. With new, cheap furniture so abundant, used pieces, even high-quality ones, suffer from stigmatization, too. Our societal knee jerk reaction is to see used furniture as gross, out of date, and not worth investing in. These values have seeped into all of our political, cultural, and economic systems: we live in a throwaway society where buying new is cheaper than maintaining what already exists. Nobody knows this better than upholsterers.

    Looking Ahead

    During presentations, I like to say, reupholsterers have not only the right skill set, but the right mindset: their entire job is to make an imperfect piece perfect. Let’s be real, being imperfect in our culture is a death sentence. We’ve been conditioned by planned obsolescence to see imperfections--real, perceived, or otherwise--as a sign that it’s time to discard and replace. The immediate compulsion to go shopping for the newest, latest version can feel almost obligatory. But you won’t notice, because your consumption will be praised and rewarded through every sphere of influence. Which is exactly how we know that the ethos of reupholstery was born long before the rise of Amazon marketplace.

    Reuphosltery came into existence many millennia ago--out of necessity--because scarce resources meant that “making do” made sense. Now that the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction, this ancient trade can appear out of sync with modern times. And yet, we’re really one step ahead.

    As the climate continues to change and reliable access to natural resources grows increasingly uncertain, once again, out of necessity, extending the life of goods is returning to vogue. It is a common practice to look to, and learn from, the past in order to live more harmoniously today. Business models that monetize every different way to reuse and resell the same thing are on the rise. Estimated sales for used furniture are expected to grow to 16.6 billion by 2025, a 70% increase from 2018. That huge number is dwarfed by an even larger one: 4.5 trillion, the amount of economic output that could be generated by circular economies by 2030.

    The tide is turning, and it’s not just businesses leading the way. Just look to the Civilian Climate Corps, an initiative to create 300,000 green, good-paying, union jobs; the Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act, in which corporations would be responsible for the plastic pollution they create; the Right to Repair movement’s fight against planned obsolescence; and the subpoenas issued to Big Oil over their role in spreading climate misinformation. Meanwhile, global marches led by youth activists fighting for their right to grow old on a livable planet fill the streets; these are unprecedented times.

    Looking at Us

    Is our industry ready to meet this moment? It won’t be without a strong trade association. While other industries try to match up to our ancient mindset and skill set, we need to catch up with their resources, partnerships, power and messaging.

    How will the reupholstery industry position itself to take full advantage of this forthcoming wave?

    To me, this is the NUA’s ultimate task. Here is how I think about it:

    First, let’s be clear. Our value proposition is baked in: we add value to and extend the life of what already exists. This is a core pillar of the circular economy.

    Next, I’d reframe reupholstery’s underappreciated, ancient skills as critical to the transition away from an extractive, linear economy. If that’s the rule for entry, then reupholstery needs to be considered a critical part of a future workforce, one that deserves inclusion in the hallowed pantheon of green jobs.

    Third, the future won’t look like the past. Though a cottage-industry-approach helped reupholstery survive the age of disposability, its scale is too small to meet the needs of a circular economy. From business models, to technology, to training, to language, to access, to awareness and education, to policies, to partnership building and beyond, permutations are coming.

    Finally, this is not just about a livable planet, this is about livable economies. A living wage. Respect. Opportunities. Humans. Our decentralized workforce is highly-skilled and woefully underfunded, under-resourced, and misunderstood. Both current and future generations deserve better.

    So, how shall we respond to a global shift that prizes extending the life of goods and celebrates the importance of good, green jobs? By leveraging the NUA to make our voices heard, our contribution known, and our power felt. The road is steep but not impossible. The NUA is living proof that though ‘They tried to bury us. They didn’t realize we were seeds'.


    _____________________

    Jamie Facciola is the departing Secretary for the NUA and also publishes the quarterly newsletter. During her time with the NUA she is most proud of initiating the quarterly strategic alignment process, creating an industry partnership with the Sustainable Furnishings Council, and contributing to the NUA’s sustainability goals. What she’ll miss most are committee meetings that provided comfort and community during the darkest days of Covid. Jamie’s background is in environmental science, corporate environmental management, and social entrepreneurship. She has worked on local solutions to circular economy challenges in Oakland, CA for the last several years as a laborer, entrepreneur, employee, consultant, and advisor. Her current project, Furniturecycle, explores furniture waste from the bottom up. Jamie is the granddaughter of an upholsterer who worked out of his garage in the SF Bay Area for over 40 years. She hopes you will follow along and stay in touch! Instagram / LinkedIn / Observations & Musings


  • December 08, 2021 3:11 PM | Jamie Facciola (Administrator)

    By Monica Rhodes, NUA Volunteer and Owner of Monday Wash Furniture



    If you work in the drapery, soft furnishings, and/or upholstery trade, chances are you know of Ceil DiGuglielmo. In addition to running her own homebased drapery and soft furnishings business, Sew Much More Custom Sewing in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Ceil supports and assists workroom technicians through multiple avenues: The popular Sew Much More podcast featuring personal interviews with tradespeople, Sew Much More: 30 Minutes with Workroom Tech, an on-air  collaboration with Susan Woodcock that offers an array workroom tips and advice; the Sew Much More Opportunity Thinking Series of podcasts highlighting personal innovations that make work life easier for us all; the Curtains and Soft Furnishings Resource Library (CSFRL), a multi-media clearing house for trade related information and educational materials, and the Drapery and Digital Design Digest, an on-line magazine catering to home décor professionals and enthusiasts.

    One day in August, I was in my workroom prepping my machine. As I adjusted my lamp to thread the needle, Ceil DiGuglielmo began her fifth anniversary podcast. She talked about being astounded by the opportunities the podcast has brought her, about fear being her constant companion, and about learning to ask for help. Ceil described going through a stack of photographs from the past five years and realizing just how much had happened. Some of those events were etched in her memory, but so many had been forgotten. We tend to see our present status as a situation, not a process; so busy with what we are doing that we fail to witness what we have done. During her anniversary podcast, Ceil encouraged her listeners to get out their photo albums and reflect on all the past moments, big and small, that form the foundation of their businesses. To appreciate themselves and all they have done. Value themselves. Be astounded, as she was. Be proud.


    I often listen to Sew Much More while I work but, that day, I switched off my lamp and machine and just listened - because it was like Ceil was right there with me and she both deserved and naturally commanded my full attention. Her voice was clear and soothing, her words utterly authentic. 

    “We have seen some of the best of human kind reaching out and helping one another. Look, I know we have also seen some of the worst of human kind – but right now, I am choosing to focus on the positive parts of what I’ve seen these past five years because I have to.”

    Ceil spoke of the precise moment that she, while standing in a parking lot, overcame her doubts and anxieties and truly committed to launching the podcast.  At that, I pictured a trail of photographs connecting the Ceil of today with the Ceil of 5 years ago; a few of the photos, impressive formal portraits, the rest a series of random candid snapshots. When I share that image with Ceil during our interview, she tells me, “I think the milestones are important, but I really do believe that it is the constant little things we do that make a difference. It’s the showing up every day and doing those things that make those big moments possible. It is little choices that we make; those little steps of not being afraid, or more likely, being afraid and doing it anyway; the day-to-day habits that keep our businesses steady and moving forward. Those are, really, really important.”

    Ceil DiGuglielmo wears more hats than most people. When I ask her if she thinks of all the things she does as separate jobs or as one large enterprise, she says, “I really do see it as one thing. Separate things that I do with a big circle around them keeping it all together. I look at the library as a compilation of so many different people’s experiences. There are so many people contributing to the content that it becomes a more and more valuable resource every year; and the podcast is a valuable part of the library – people’s stories and their experiences; and when I’m in the workroom working on something, I think – I really should document this so I can add it to the library. So, I really do see it as all working together.”  

    Each of these efforts plays into what Ceil DiGuglielmo calls her “joyful obligation to pay it forward”. Says Ceil, “I would not be here if it were not for those people who helped me and supported me and answered my questions.” Prior to opening her own workroom, Ceil had steadily worked her way up through a series of management roles at a prominent Philadelphia department store. She and her husband had been trying to start a family for almost a decade when the first of their two adopted daughters came into their lives, born prematurely. There was no family leave at that time; Ceil used up two weeks of accumulated vacation and, exhausted and missing her baby, returned to work. It just didn’t make sense. In her case, the financial and emotional costs of commuting and working away from home far outweighed the benefits.

    Ceil’s first foray into self-employment was designing custom bridal head pieces. As that business did not generate much revenue, she sought to pivot to something else. Ceil had paid for her own sewing lessons as a middle-schooler and developed her skills making clothing for herself and, later, her daughters. She had also made her own window treatments. Seeking advice and resources, Ceil attended a SCORE (small business mentorship program) meeting sixteen years ago and, there, met a couple of designers with whom she started to work. Ceil muses, “I still can’t believe I thought I should go ahead with this business! My friend, Dawn, encouraged me to start and introduced me as her window treatment expert to a designer friend. Her confidence in me was greater than my confidence in myself. Dawn, along with the designer she introduced me to and the designers I met at the SCORE meeting, were my first window treatment clients.”

    Not surprisingly, running her own business was a challenge. One of the things Ceil always asks when interviewing a guest on her podcast is, “Have you ever thought of quitting?” Because she has. She knows what it takes to become successful: the sacrifices involved, the difficulties endured and overcome. Ceil is truly grateful for the help and support she has received along the way and she derives profound satisfaction from helping other people solve their problems and, sometimes, “just get through this day.”

    “My biggest concern for our industry, besides education and that a lot of us are aging out of the industry, is that is that we work ourselves to death.” Ceil knows, from experience, that it is vitally important to “not take just any scraps that are thrown to us; not take just any job because someone is willing to pay us; not let anyone else set the boundaries for us. We are so intent on getting things done for people that we are not thinking about when we will eat, sleep, or see family. Or just sit down.” Ceil admits this tendency to disregard reasonable boundaries was one of the hardest things for her to overcome.  She ultimately came to realize- there is value to what I do - and she longs for all of us to embrace that knowledge. One of the ways Ceil makes that happen is by listening compassionately to her guests on the podcast and allowing them to shine. “I care deeply about who’s listening,” she says, “but I care most about the person in front of me. My job is to make them feel comfortable, feel at ease, and come across in their best light.”

    “When people put their headphones on, (I am) literally inside their heads – and that is a very precious space.” 

    The Sew Much More podcast transcends the workroom. Often deeply personal, each episode highlights the backstory, motivations, passions, fears, mistakes and triumphs of the interviewee. We have much in common but also a great deal to learn from one another. Listeners are so happy when they relate to others’ stories in this community of people with similar jobs. The idea that we are all connected, even though we are working alone was so important to me. When I realized how different all of our stories are, that’s when I started realize what the impact was.”


    When Ceil DiGuglielmo aired her first podcast, she was thrilled to see that six people had listened, “not realizing that two of those people were myself,” she points out, laughing.  Ceil explains that she had dragged her feet at first, nervous to take the plunge. Finally, she decided that if there were topics and stories that she was interested in, somebody else out there was certainly interested as well - and would benefit from listening. With the encouragement of friends, she forged ahead. Had she reached merely one person in a meaningful way - through that one podcast – it would have been worth it.  To her lingering surprise she has, to date, recorded over 300 podcasts that have been downloaded hundreds of thousands of times across 46 countries. At this point, Ceil can’t even count the number of times listeners have contacted her to say, Thank you, I really needed to hear that.”

    Ceil DiGuglielmo takes this very seriously. “When people put their headphones on, (I am) literally inside their heads – and that is a very precious space,” she says.  Podcasts provide a dread free zone for learning, relating and obtaining validation. These conversations unspooling in the private spaces between our ears feel intensely personal, yet we don’t have to ask questions ourselves and endure the anxiety of revealing what we don’t know in order to get answers. Ceil goes on to say, “When the lightbulb goes on for someone, when someone receives the affirmation that what they are doing is right, it is so reassuring.” Listeners realize, Cynthia Bleskachek does it that way, Susan Woodcock (who frequently notes that there are always at least three right ways to do any given task) does it that way…“Oh, I am doing it right after all!” Ceil says that one of the biggest compliments she receives is that “people feel like whoever I’m talking to is now a new friend.” On more than one occasion, that feeling of kinship has blossomed into flesh and blood friendships and/or partnerships.  “That just light’s me up with joy,” says Ceil, “knowing I’ve connected people.”

    Ceil has made a multi-faceted career out of joyfully connecting and supporting other people. Every move she makes, every job she “gets to do”, as she puts it, is geared toward increasing her capacity to help others. I am writing this knowing that Ceil will demure, because that is the type of person she is. But the truth is Ceil DiGuglielmo does good things because she’s a good person. Choosing to see the good because she has to. Choosing to do good because she wants to.

    Please follow the hyperlinks in the first two paragraphs to learn more about Ceil and the many resources she makes available to those in the soft furnishings and related trades.

  • September 22, 2021 6:46 PM | Jamie Facciola (Administrator)

    By Monica Rhodes, NUA Volunteer and Owner of Monday Wash Furniture



    UK-based Master upholsterer, Robbie Richardson reaches out to trades people and lay people alike through his popular podcast In Stitches and will soon expand that reach with the launch of Stuff Stitch Magazine, the first comprehensive upholstery trade magazine to exist in almost two decades. For Richardson, “telling the story of what lies beneath the covers” is not just a clever tagline, it’s a mission. “It’s about the detail under the covers (of a piece of furniture). It’s also about the story we never tell because there is no outlet to tell the story of upholstery.”

    What do we all have in common? It’s stories. We all like to hear stories. And our trade is desperately underrepresented in terms of detail, in terms of what lies beneath the covers. If I get one person, that’s not an upholsterer, interested in the process of upholstery, then that podcast has worked. 

    Richardson, co-owner of Richardson & Paige Distinctive Upholstery Services in Devizes, Wiltshire, UK, has been upholstering for 42 years. Furniture repair is in his blood. By the age of 9, he was regularly enveloped in the heady scents of timber, wood stain and pipe smoke as he built tea chests – and even a sofa – alongside his grandfather, who was a traditional cabinetmaker. At that time, Robbie didn’t know he would follow in his grandfather’s, and his father’s, footsteps. In fact, when he graduated from school, he “hadn’t the foggiest” idea what his next steps would be. When his grandad suggested upholstery, upholstery work started to occupy his dreams. “At that point,” Robbie says, “you know you’re going down the right path.”

    Robbie’s Richardson’s path has veered in new directions over the past 18 months. He explains that the podcast was sparked, in part, by boredom and isolation. “Boredom breeds creativity, you know.” In February of 2020, Robbie traveled to France with Nik Paige, his partner - both in business and in life - for the past 30 years, to do some work on a cottage they own in the countryside. In March, Robbie returned to England to tend to the shop. Two days later, the UK was under Covid lockdown. The couple decided that Nik would remain in France and continue to see to repairs, as their home there was more remote and possibly safer in light of the pandemic. Little did they know that their time apart would extend to a year and a half. 

    Covid-19 dealt a severe blow to the business and Robbie was forced to furlough the staff. To combat the consequent silence and isolation, he began listening to podcasts. It felt like having company. After listening to only three podcasts or so, Robbie decided to reach out to others through one of his own. He named it “In Stitches” signaling that, in addition to information about his trade, listeners could expect plenty of good humor, a valuable and sought-after salve during such troubled times. 


    Robbie was nervous at first. “It was a bit of a seat of your pants kind of decision, but it felt like the right thing to do. I was really intimidated…but I knew it was really important, so I put that fear to the side.” In Stitches has been a huge hit, delivering on its promise:  Essential listening for upholsters and teachers alike, you’ll hear an eclectic ‘weaving together’ of life and skills as we talk to some of the best upholsterers in our business and provide a forum for those new to our trade.Robbie is a skilled interviewer - quick witted, charming and disarming. He loves stories and is adept at peeling back the layers as he engages his guests with interest, empathy and humor.

    Says Richardson, “What do we all have in common? It’s stories. We all like to hear stories. And our trade is desperately underrepresented in terms of detail, in terms of what lies beneath the covers. If I get one person, that’s not an upholsterer, interested in the process of upholstery, then that podcast has worked.” Robbie has been pleased to find that the podcast has “also built a bit of community.” 


    Robbie’s success with In Stitches led him to wonder what other novel paths he might travel. One day, he was discussing ideas with some colleagues and one of them mused, “Wouldn’t it be great if we had a magazine?” Robbie lit up, “and all the alarms went off – whoot! whoot! – and then I just really wanted to get on with it and do it.” There were a lot of responsibilities to tend to at Richardson & Paige and Robbie realized he needed to focus on those. “But (the idea about the magazine) just wouldn’t leave me alone – it was a REALLY big itch and because I tried to suppress it, it just became even bigger.” If that hadn’t been the case, Robbie probably would have waited 18 months before partnering with Vernon Gadsby and Claire Rourke to set the wheels in motion. “I couldn’t do it without them,” he says. Richardson gives a nod to his dogs as well; he walks them for two hours each day and that’s when his creativity flows. While walking, he often pondered what the magazine might look like and what might be of interest to the readership.

    Formal planning and development of Stuff Stitch Magazine began in February, culminating in a Kickstarter campaign to raise the necessary capital to launch. Though not everything could be accomplished in the first issue, overall plans include a featured upholsterer (who will appear on the cover); a tool review; tips for the workshop; a skill share page addressing different levels from hobbyist to professional; a book review; and various interest pieces, including articles by upholsterers from the United States. Regarding his hopes for Stuff Stitch Magazine Robbie says, “I want it to mean that, as a group, upholsterers are in position to explain what we do better, to sell what we do better, and charge more for what we do. There are far too many of us working at poor rates of pay for a highly skilled job. It’s really important to me that there is an understanding of our work as a skill.”


    The magazine will be available both digitally and in print. At first, Richardson, Gadsby and Rourke didn’t think there would be much demand for a printed version; they envisioned distributing 100 copies total to shops in the United Kingdom.  “But when we launched the Kickstarter campaign, it went mental,” Robbie says. Twenty percent of his podcast listeners are from the US, so he expected some interest there; but it was coming from everywhere: US, Canada, Australia and many other countries. “It was thrilling.”

    Considering the level of enthusiasm, it’s interesting that the upholstery profession has gone so many years without a trade magazine. Thinking on this, Robbie says, “a lot of us are quite insular and most of us just want to enjoy our craft and not get diverted into something that leads us out of our comfort zone. I just love doing stuff that challenges me, but it’s just the last 18 months that that’s happened. It’s amazing how once you lift the lid off of one thing, then other things come to fruition.” Robbie is currently working on the format for a video magazine to air next year on YouTube. “It will be video/tutorial/interview/walk around the workshop and will give you a different perspective on how we do things.” The podcast, magazine, and YouTube channel will all come under the banner of Stuff Stitch Media. Richardson hints at even bigger things on the horizon - additional ways “to get more people interested in this trade, understand this trade, understand what lies beneath the covers.” 

    Robbie Richardson has journeyed a long way since those early years in his grandfather’s workshop, but he still thinks about his granddad often. “Even today, if someone is smoking a pipe, it takes me right back to sitting and watching him work.” 

    Before we part, I ask Robbie, “What do you think your grandfather would say if he could see you now?” 

    Robbie doesn’t hesitate, “I know what he would say. He would say, ‘Well done lad’.”

    To subscribe to Stuff Stitch Magazine: 

    Visit www.stuffstitch.com Click “Subscribe” and choose either the digital or print edition to purchase 6 bi-monthly issues.

    Would you love to know more about Robbie Richardson and Stuffed Stitch Media? Be sure to sign up for our November 9th webinar to hear Jill Ragnan Scully of Impressive Windows and Interiors speak with Robbie live.

  • August 04, 2021 3:57 PM | Jamie Facciola (Administrator)

    By Monica Rhodes
    NUA Volunteer and Owner of Monday Wash Furniture

    I know I was not alone, 15 or 16 months ago, wondering if the emerging pandemic meant “curtains” for my fledgling upholstery and furnishings business. Workshops around the world scrambled to adjust to the health threat posed by interpersonal contact and the consequent restrictions that soon followed. Upholsterers reached out to one another on forums like the Professional Upholsterer’s Network (PUN) and during NUA Community Meetings to share information about Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and other such loans and grants. We all buckled down, adjusted our work spaces and protocols, continued to work hard, and hoped for the best.

    1. 

    That hope actually came to fruition. Though many industries (particularly travel, hospitality, dining and entertainment) sputtered and struggled, home improvement and interior décor related enterprises flourished. As so much of the world turned inward, millions of stressed-out people sequestered at home began to fixate on creature comforts and practical adaptations that might make working and schooling children at home more tolerable. They took a long, deep look at their living spaces thinking:  If this is where I’m going to spend nearly all of my time for the foreseeable future, it better be as comfortable and appealing as possible. Interior decorating/re-decorating became one of the few ways to achieve a change of scenery. It provided a creative outlet, space to roam if only in imagination, and a sense of control when everything else felt out of control. People who found themselves with extra disposable income originally intended for things like travel and eating out, started investing that money into their living spaces.

    There is an old adage: Be careful what you hope for. The upholstery trade is booming now, in no small part due to the cultural and societal shifts that have occurred as a result of the pandemic. On the forums, talk of PPP loans has been replaced by talk of managing unruly clients and dealing with work overload. Several weeks ago, I read a thread in which one upholsterer described the scene outside his shop as Night of the Living Dead. He was booked out for many months. He’d done everything he could to dissuade potential clients (including locking his shop door and hanging a sign stating clearly that he was not accepting new work). But still they came dragging their chairs and ottomans behind them, rattling the door and peering with haunted eyes through the glass around the sign.  Meanwhile, the upholsterer had retreated to the back shadows of his shop so as not to be seen, which would only rile the furniture-toting zombies up.

    2.

    I found this image hilarious, but it resonated with me. So many of my upholstery acquaintances are suffering tremendous stress, some working 80-hour weeks, many booked out for six months, or a year, but still trying to squeeze particularly desperate clients in. Some home-based upholsterers I know of, including the NUA’s own Rachel Fletcher, have had wanna-be clients show up on the doorsteps of their private homes - with their furniture - after being turned down by phone.

    3.

    The situation has been exacerbated by concurrent supply chain shortages and disruptions. Foam, Dacron, fabric, adhesive, and lumber are among the materials in short supply. Prices are up, availability is down, and delivery is sporadic, delayed and increasingly costly. Covid-19 has disrupted the means of production, as has harsh and unprecedented weather like the epic snow and cold in Texas last February and March. Some larger shops have been able to stockpile foam and other necessary materials, but this has resulted in even longer delays for small shops that lack the storage space and capital to purchase large quantities in advance of payment. The result: upholsterers must tell clients who have waited several months for their turn that the work may be further delayed for unspecified lengths of time.

    So, what to do? 

    For better or for worse, things might settle down as normalcy returns. People will start spending their money on travel and other Covid-verboten luxuries again. Their gazes will gradually adjust to meet the horizon beyond their living rooms. If, when and how this will impact our industry are big unknowns. If we have learned anything, it is that we must be prepared for flux. Personally, I think the boom will continue for a good while. The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people perceive, experience and value many things. Our homes will remain havens from known and yet-to-be known threats and disturbances. Furthermore, there is serious, widespread and growing interest in reusing furniture. Fastcompany.com recently published an article titled Used furniture is about to become a $16.6 billion business. Even Ikea is getting in on it. In the article, Anna Brockway, co-founder of the furniture resale website Chairish, notes that “Chairish grew very quickly during the pandemic with sales increasing between 70% and 120% every month compared to the year before.”  The public has become more knowledgeable about, and comfortable accessing, myriad on-line avenues for purchasing quality vintage furniture – and they’re going to need upholsterers.      

    The immediate reality is that we have much work to do. Perhaps too much. Several upholsterers I reached out to have graciously shared their coping strategies including: raising prices, booking clients far out, vetting estimates using on-line forms that sift out “tire-kickers”, requiring clients to deliver and pick-up their own pieces, not promising definitive completion dates, referring potential clients to other shops, partnering with other upholsterers to share work load, and hiring skilled and/or unskilled help (for teardown, etc.). Long-time upholsterer Dennis Locke says, “The pandemic has taught me to sit back and let the game come to me. I found that many of my customers who previously claimed they were unable to handle their own pick-up and delivery were suddenly finding a way.” Rhonda Shanahan of The Whimsical Chair committed to “work smarter not harder.” Streamlining all of her processes, she added a detailed estimate form to her website. “It’s the only way I will give someone an estimate,” she says. Rhonda also turns down the jobs she doesn’t really want. Drudgery does nothing to alleviate stress.  Another upholsterer makes space by keeping weekends to herself – no quotes, phone calls or work emails, “and I’m not shy to tell people the contract is delayed. It’s me, my family and mental health before others.”

    In researching this article, pricing came up repeatedly. Almost across the board, established upholsterers have been able to raise prices with little to no push back from clients. Given clients’ willingness to pay, raising prices doesn’t do a lot to stem workload though it makes the added stress more palatable. The other resounding theme was communication, which can actually make workload more manageable. Open, clear and concise communication yields the best results. Don’t waver. Don’t promise a turn-around time you may not be able to keep. State and stick to your protocols. Be clear about your scheduling. Are you strictly first in the door, first out?  Do certain clients receive priority? Regardless, don’t cave and offer to squeeze someone in just because that person is pleading or pushy. In the May/June 2021 issue of issue of the Drapery and Design Digital Digest, purveyor of window treatments, Merrill Y Landis (MYL), LTD, states explicitly, “Demand is way up. Workroom space is way down. Delivery times are increasing.” MYL maintains a first-in, first-out policy but recognizing that, occasionally, there is legitimate rationale to push a job through as quickly as possible, offers a priority service system for a fee that is large enough to discourage casual requests. Priority service is not guaranteed. Requests are vetted and granted after serious consideration to ensure that flow remains smooth and that customers remain happy.

    In addition to scheduling, be up front about supply chain issues. Let clients know there may be unforeseen delays. Consider putting this in writing on the front end, so there will not be room for dispute later on. Forgoing a definitive completion date will avoid undue pressure should things go awry. If delays occur, let clients know when and why and that you are doing your best to complete the work in a timely manner. Do not accept work from a person who blatantly disregards your protocols.

    4.

    If you show up on the doorstep of my private home while I am eating dinner then, no, I will not reupholster the sofa you have dragged onto my porch.  Protect your boundaries. Don’t you dare push that sofa into your garage because you “might be able to squeeze it in”.

    This is not the time to make concessions. This is a time to consider the changing landscape, reflect on priorities, strategize and strive to strike a healthy balance. Plenty of people in the trade will lend you an ear, if not a hand, in safe spaces like the PUN and the NUA. As a group, we are resilient and resourceful and we have a host of solid ideas and strategies to share. If we reach out to support one another, there is hope for a less stressful tomorrow.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Photo attributions:

    1.  "under pressure" by eschipulis licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0
    2.  "Zombies at the door aren't welcome tonight." by kennethkonica is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0
    3. "Alexis Helps Move" by Voxphoto is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
    4. "Gaston Says... Talk to the Hand" by opencontent is licensed under CC BY 2.0


  • July 06, 2021 7:42 PM | Jamie Facciola (Administrator)

    How did we measure up?

    Thank you to all our members who completed our very first NUA Member Survey in April. We had a 35% response rate, which is very good for a general survey. Below is a summary of the results.

    General Demographics

    The National Upholstery Association consists of Professionals, Educators, Industry Partners, Students, and Retirees of the upholstery trade. Our current mix of member levels is as follows:


    70% Professionals

    3% Educators

    9% Industry Partners

    15% Students

    3% Retirees

    Around 85% of our members are associated with a small shop, either running a solo business or with one full- or part-time employee.

    Our members overwhelmingly joined the NUA for educational and networking opportunities

    Did you know? The NUA holds monthly Community Meetings on a variety of topics. These meetings are a great opportunity for our members to network and share. Check out our calendar to see a list of upcoming events.

    We want to do regional events and we need your help! The pandemic put a pause on in-person gatherings, but it won’t be long until we can travel and meet up again. Are you itching to meet other NUA members in your area? Want to volunteer with the NUA but can’t offer a long-term commitment? Sign up to coordinate a local meetup instead! For more information, please email info@nationalupholsteryassociation.org.

    Our webinars are the best in the industry, but that’s not all the NUA has to offer. We’re working on growing our curated collection of upholstery resources and educational materials. Our newsletter, blog, and library are great sources of information for our industry. Check out our Learning and Events page on our website. And don’t forget to check back often, as we’re always adding something new. Have you found a great resource, blog, article, video, or webinar you’d like to share with other members? Let us know at info@nationalupholsteryassociation.org and we’ll consider your content for inclusion in our library.

    Webinars rank highest in quality among the benefits we offer

    Did you know? Our webinars are recorded and available on demand for members. Can’t make a live session? Catch it on a replay! Check out our Past Webinars on our website (available only to active members).

    Member discounts rank lowest

    Yeah, we know - and we’re working on it. We believe the NUA provides mutual benefit between our members and Industry Partners. We aim to highlight and promote our best partners, giving them an opportunity to market to a highly targeted audience. In return, we’ll snag exclusive offers for NUA members, not available anywhere else. If you are an Industry Partner and want a premium promotional spot on our website and on social media, please email info@nationalupholsteryassociation.org and we’ll gladly be in contact with you.

    Our members are interested in a trade magazine and access to a regular news feed highlighting industry news and research

    Our members seek to stay on top of industry news and trends and the NUA wants to become your one-stop resource for all things upholstery. In our April newsletter, we included a new Industry News section and it received a very positive response. We are currently investigating the feasibility of an industry eMagazine and/or news feed. If you are interested in helping with this project, please contact us at info@nationalupholsteryassociation.org.

    Most members follow the NUA on social media (92% of respondents), but prefer to receive important communication by email (96% of respondents)

    We strive to strike a balance in our member communications; to share our programs and events with you wherever you are without being too spammy. That said, we’re putting our programs into overdrive this year and we need your help to achieve our goals. In an effort to improve our benefits offering and increase engagement, we may reach out to you periodically to ask your opinion about certain topics or to share news about new or underutilized offerings. Your input is important!

    Conclusion

    The National Upholstery Association’s programs are made possible through your membership dues and the support of our dedicated volunteers. To all our members - thank you for your support and for being a part of our community.

    If you want to get more involved, consider applying to become a volunteer. We are also recruiting for Committee Chairs, so if you’re a natural leader or looking to build experience leading a team, we want to hear from you!

    By Harmony Maraldo, NUA Membership Committee Chair

  • June 28, 2021 4:58 PM | CARLA PYLE


    As a professional upholsterer, Michelle is widely recognized for her creative eye and meticulous attention to detail. She has been involved with building the NUA since the beginning, and has made a huge contribution to creating our resilient Upholstery Community!

    Michelle has been instrumental in building the foundation of the NUA's social media and marketing program since (date?). Her passion for sharing knowledge, supporting & encouraging fellow upholsterers, has shined in her role as leader of the Public Relations committee.

    She is an amazing mentor, actively blogging about her DIY adventures for several years, until her upholstery business took over. She continues to share the transformation process through her social media channels today.

    "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."

    Please help us congratulate Michelle as the NUA Volunteer of the Quarter! She will be receiving a recognition gift for her contribution. Michelle has found a certain fulfillment in working alongside her fellow upholsterers in the NUA. She has recently found it necessary to step down from her NUA work (June, 2021). We'll miss her, and we wish her the best on her journey forward!

    Check out Michelle's upholstery business:

    Blue Roof Cabin

    Facebook

    Instagram


    Would you like to join the NUA team and help carry Michelle's work with the NUA into the future? We're seeking a proactive volunteer to pick up where Michelle left off, and lead the Public Relations effort. Learn more and submit your application here. We are also seeking a new leader for our Volunteer Coordination Committee. We love our volunteers!!!


  • June 28, 2021 3:47 PM | CARLA PYLE

    Posted by Carla Pyle, NUA Board Member and Natural Upholstery educator & consultant. Thanks to the folks at Chemical Insights for writing this guest post and providing images.

    A TOOLKIT FOR SPECIFYING RESIDENTIAL UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE

    Last year we shared the exciting news that Chemical Insights convened a national Furniture Flammability and Human Health Taskforce to provide science-based facts about safe & healthy furniture. 

    Since then, the group has been busy compiling scientific resources and summarizing key facts and action steps that were ultimately compiled in UL Guidance Document 118F: Managing Fire and Chemical Exposure Risks of Residential Upholstered Furniture. To help put this knowledge into practice, Chemical Insights created an educational tool for interior designers: Specifying Residential Upholstered Furniture to Safeguard Human Health and Well-Being: A Toolkit for Reducing Fire and Chemical Risks.


    image credit: Chemical Insights

    TOOLKIT HIGHLIGHTS

    The toolkit: 

    • Presents a case for why both chemical safety and fire safety must be considered when selecting furniture
    • Offers guidance on how to specify solutions that address this safety convergence
    • Summarizes meaningful research on flame retardant exposure and furniture flammability.

    MAKING THE CASE FOR CHEMICAL SAFETY

    “There is an abundance of research and information available to designers that addresses mitigating the impacts of consumer products and building materials on indoor air quality. They often focus on six specific classes of chemicals of concern. These chemicals can be released into the air and dust for human exposure contributing to health concerns, especially for vulnerable populations.”


    image credit: Chemical Insights

    MAKING THE CASE FOR FIRE SAFETY

    “Current statistics report that of fires that result in death, residential upholstered furniture is the leading item to ignite, above mattresses and flammable liquids. When residential upholstered furniture was the first item to catch on fire, it resulted in 17% of home fire deaths. This suggests that efforts to mitigate residential fire risks associated with upholstered furniture over the past few decades have not been overly successful.”


    image credit: Chemical Insights

    RESEARCH SUMMARY

    “Open flame testing showed that a chair with a fire barrier material installed to fully encapsulate the polyurethane foam under the cover fabric (no flame retardants were added) demonstrated significantly lower fire hazards when compared to the other chairs with and without flame retardants (and without barriers).” 

    WHAT IS A FIRE BARRIER AND HOW DOES IT WORK? 

    “A fire barrier is a protective layer designed to prevent or delay ignition of the cushioning material. It successfully reduces the fire growth rate and fire size after ignition. Fire barriers can be made from a variety of inherently flame-resistant fibers, including carbons, polyesters and fiberglass.


     A barrier should be identified for furniture construction that will delay or reduce open flames. 


    A fire barrier is installed over the padding or filling materials to completely encapsulate it. In studies, fire barriers have been identified as an effective solution to reduce fire risks without the use of chemical flame retardants — achieving the desired safety convergence. Barriers demonstrate a significant decrease in heat release rate and ignition propensity that results in lower transmitted fire hazards, such as temperature, smoke and carbon monoxide.”

    SPECIFYING A FIRE BARRIER

    “Just as identifying materials with recycled content or selecting low-VOC paint were once new concepts, specifying a fire barrier in residential upholstered furniture may be a new process for any or all involved parties — the designer, the client and/or the manufacturer. As with all emerging technologies, utilizing a fire barrier may not be an option on all projects and certainly not on all pieces of upholstered furniture — at least initially. However, you are likely to encounter certain situations that make any additional effort and potential cost worthwhile to the client. And as awareness of and demand for solutions that minimize fire hazards and chemical exposure risks grows, just as with the mattress industry, furniture manufacturers are likely to follow suit. There are already manufacturers in the market using the barrier, upon client request.”


    image credit: Chemical Insights

    LEARN MORE

    To view the complete toolkit, alongside additional tools and resources, visit chemicalinsights.org/FFHH. 


    The National Upholstery Association is proud to present various viewpoints of our members and partners within the upholstery community. Perspectives (or opinions) will vary. This Blog is made available for general information; not to provide specific business, financial, or legal advice.

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