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2023 State of the Association - A Letter From the President

January 20, 2023 8:00 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)
As I reflect back on 2022, I feel a huge sense of pride in our association and the things we’ve accomplished in the three years since its founding. However, we would not be where we are today without our members and volunteers. First and foremost I want to say THANK YOU to both our members and our dedicated volunteers for your ongoing support. We are a volunteer-led organization, which means that 100% of your membership dues go directly toward building programs that benefit and strengthen our industry.

The National Upholstery Association (NUA) seeks to reestablish the systems that provide key resources for our industry - including professional development opportunities, apprenticeship paths, support groups, grants and scholarships, hiring and placement assistance, training opportunities, ongoing education, and more. The decline of available resources for upholstery professionals is colossal and systemic; meaningful change is a huge undertaking and will take time. But each year we march toward that goal, advocating for our members and focusing on the projects that will have the most immediate positive impact within our trade.

2022 marked our first year back to in-person events since the pandemic began. The personal connections we make when face-to-face are incredibly important in building relationships and fostering collaboration. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet so many of you in person and to listen to your ideas and feedback at last year’s Furniture Manufacturing Expo and Custom Workroom Conference. I felt incredibly energized after those events - and I bet you did, too. They gave me an opportunity to network, commiserate, and connect. And I want more of that.

In the spirit of togetherness, we’ve decided to announce a theme for 2023 - COMMUNITY. This year, we’ll focus our efforts on creating more opportunities for connection and collaboration. We’re still working out the details, but stay tuned for more information about community building programs such as regional events, mentorship programs, and more. Want to help? Apply to become a volunteer!

At the end of the year, I like to reflect on and celebrate our progress. Here are a handful of our key accomplishments in 2022:

  • Met with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to clarify the impact of the new Standard for the Flammability of Upholstered Furniture as it relates to reupholstery
  • Developed resources to explain the new federal flammability regulation in plain terms and how it impacts our members
  • Added 3 new membership levels to give our Industry Partners and Educators more flexibility in the level of benefit they receive
  • Overhauled our Membership Overview page to better articulate the benefits of each member level
  • Developed a directory of Upholstery Educators in the United States and Canada
  • Exhibited at two trade conferences, including the Furniture Manufacturing Expo and the Custom Workroom Conference
  • Signed up 22 new members at the Custom Workroom Conference (welcome, new friends!)
  • Conducted our second annual Pricing Survey (results available to members only)
  • Doubled-down on our PR efforts in order to broaden our recognition and reach in the industry
  • Distributed our first-ever press release, which was picked up by Furniture Today
  • Grew our social media reach by ~22% across all platforms, totaling more than 6,100 followers today
  • Elected 6 new Board members to help us carry the NUA to the next level. There is SO MUCH TALENT in this group! Take a look at your 2023 Board of Directors here.

»»»»»  WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!  «««««

During the pandemic, nearly all of our volunteers understandably stepped down from their NUA volunteer activities to concentrate on their businesses, their families, and their health. In response, we scrambled to reprioritize projects and focused our efforts on the core benefits our members love. A few very dedicated volunteers remained, and the Board of Directors rolled up their sleeves to keep the association cogs turning. I am incredibly grateful to everyone for getting it done in spite of the circumstances. A special thank you to:

  • The 2022 Board of Directors for pitching in when there was no one else to do the work: Kim Newell, Rachel Fletcher, Grace Reff, Lewis Mabon, Andrew Bodjanac, Keaven Willa Hartt, Manda Marie, and Kevin Fuller.
  • Our remaining 2022 volunteers who gave their time toward our mission: Jeanne Henzel, Ruti Wajnberg, Audrey Lonsway, Angela Dreis, Debbie Lousberg, Debby Albrecht, Carla Pyle, Sue Sifakis, Amber Robertson, Sarah Linde, and Laura Archer - THANK YOU.

Our 2022 volunteers and board members picked up the slack when others stepped down - and they are tired. It takes a COMMUNITY to run an association of our size, and we need help! We are looking for volunteers to serve on committees or take on single projects. The average volunteer commitment is just 2-3 hours per month.

I want to help, but I don’t have the technical or business skills to be useful.

Many of our volunteer projects don’t require any special skills. Maybe you’re good at crafting emails, or picking up the phone and talking to people, or using search engines to do research…or perhaps you have a strong social network and can spread the word. Let’s chat and find out what projects you’re most passionate about and where you feel you can make the most impact!

Volunteering is also a great way to network. If you are a new upholsterer looking to make connections, or a seasoned one looking to broaden your network, this is a fabulous opportunity. There’s an old saying that you get out what you put in, and I can personally attest that becoming a volunteer with the NUA has opened professional doors I never knew existed!

Here are just a few areas where we’re looking for help. Have another idea about how you can support the industry? We’re all ears! Apply here to become a volunteer.

  • Volunteer recruitment (our most immediate need!)
  • Committee leadership (all committees)
  • Regional events coordination
  • Blog writing and curation
  • Mentorship program development and administration
  • Online library organization
  • Website updates and overall organization
  • Calendar updates - webinars, NUA events, Industry Partner and Educator events, etc.
  • Contests, grants, and scholarships curation
  • Industry Partners and Educators liaison
  • Connecting upholsterers and interior designers
  • Developing an apprenticeship readiness plan for workrooms
  • Negotiating member discounts
  • Securing sponsorships for events
  • Business education
  • Promoting reupholstery as an intrinsic component of the circular economy

Are you already working towards the betterment of our trade? The National Upholstery Association also seeks to amplify the accomplishments of our members and to connect them to resources that aid in their success. If you’ve begun your own project or entrepreneurial endeavor to strengthen the upholstery industry, we’d love to hear about it!

In closing, I truly believe that 2023 will be a watershed year for our association. We have some incredible projects on the horizon - projects that will have a lasting impact on our industry. We just need a handful of enthusiastic volunteers to help bring these projects to life. Please join us on our mission to strengthen the industry by supporting the National Upholstery Association in any way that you can: by becoming a member, renewing your membership, inviting others to join, buying some swag from our online shop, spreading the word about the NUA, or rolling up your sleeves and volunteering on a project or committee.

Warmest wishes for a prosperous new year,

Harmony Maraldo
President, National Upholstery Association 2022/2023

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