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2022 State of the Association - A Letter From the President

January 13, 2022 7:25 AM | Anonymous

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

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