Log in

From the Blog

Symposium and CWC recap

September 25, 2019 10:26 AM | Michelle Minner

The 2019 Upholstery Symposium is in the books. We had a great turnout with nearly 100 upholstery and soft furnishing professionals in attendance.

members of the NUA that attended the symposium

Symposium attendees

The Symposium was the pre-event to the annual Custom Workroom Conference (CWC) that took place last week in Concord, North Carolina. The theme of the event was Take your skills to the next level, aspire to inspire. We were honored to have the chance to interview four talented upholsterers, all well-known and respected in the field. The panelists had a lively discussion answering questions about what inspires them. Their willingness to share their talents and insight is so needed and much appreciated. Two of the panelists are NUA board members and all were Instructors at CWC.

 panelists Bruno Paulin-Lopez, Cynthia Blesckachek, Rachel Fletcher & Grant Trick

After the discussion, attendees had a chance to meet and mingle. Most of us had only ever met through social media so it was fun to finally meet in real life.


The next three days of the CWC conference were jam packed with Classes, Networking and a Vendor fair. Classes covered topics that included soft furnishings, upholstery and business. There was something for everyone. Whether you were a drapery/soft furnishing professional, an upholsterer or both; there were more than enough classes to suit your needs. The chance to network with peers was the highlight for many.

 NUA booth at the Vendor Fair

The NUA board and volunteers have put their hearts into creating an organization whose mission is to support the field of Upholstery. The Symposium was our first event and we hope that it will be the first of many. As I began to write this blog it occurred to me, how better to sum it all up than to ask some of the people who worked so hard to make it happen.

Here are some of their thoughts:

 “Wow!!! What an incredible experience.  Susan Woodcock, producer of the CWC, said the event would be life-changing and she was right.  I'm a different person on this side of the event than I was before and I am so grateful for that.  Meeting so many people and meeting the PERSON behind their social media account is invaluable and furthers a connection that's made difficult between screens.  I can't wait to do it all over again.“ 

Rachel Fletcher, NUA President and owner of Knox Upholstery

 “I loved being part of this new step for Upholstery, and to see how the overlap with the drapery community can benefit both groups. I learned so much and still so much to learn…”

-Carla Pyle, NUA board member and owner of Natural Upholstery

“Even as someone that does both upholstery and some drapery, I thought CWC might be too much on the drapery side for me. This year was the perfect mix. I also didn’t realize the wealth of business classes that are offered. I’m so glad that I took a couple of those classes. I feel prepared to make changes to my business strategies, and am confident that those changes will be right for me.”

-Audrey Lonsway, NUA Vice President and owner of The Sewing Den.

“It was incredible to see such a robust turnout, such a sense of community, belonging and shared identity among upholsterers. This was a very different experience from last year for upholsterers, and I think the changed variable is the engagement of individuals like each of you. Crossing paths with the drapery community has made me want to up my sewing game – those professionals are FIERCE!! But it’s also made me see how much more we COULD have for networking and community. Simple connectivity heals a lot of things – just having access to one another. It’s an easier place to learn and thrive from, for sure…”

-Cynthia Bleskachek, NUA board member, owner of The Funky Little Chair


“To me it felt like a good mix of drapery and upholstery professionals. I had so many primarily drapery people tell me they were glad upholsterers were there. I’m so glad we turned up strong. I’m hopeful we can continue to work with CWC. Meeting everyone and networking was invaluable.  Plus I feel so energized I’m ready to tackle the world (in terms of upholstery.)”

-Elizabeth Decrescezo, NUA Treasurer, owner of Nailed it Upholstery


“In over 20 years as an upholstery shop owner, I have never been in company, online or otherwise, of that many upholsterers! It was a bit overwhelming but exciting. I really loved listening to the members of the panel at the Symposium. One piece of advice from Grant Trick stood out for me. This was to make time to get out of the shop and go see what is going on in the world of upholstered furniture by visiting design centers and art museums.”

-Kim Newell, NUA Board member, owner of Kim’s Upholstery Shop


The event was a huge success. Thanks to all who came out in support of the National Upholstery Association as well as the upholstery community as a whole. A huge thank you goes out to our Symposium sponsors. The event would not have been possible without them. Their early support even before the National Upholstery Association was up and running is so appreciated. 

Symposium Sponsors:

Ronco Industries

Albany Foam and Supply

C.S. Osbourne & Co.

British School of Upholstered Furniture

Nailed it Upholstery

Professional Upholsterers Network on Facebook

United Fabrics

Upholstery Education

Frank Destro Jr.

A special thank you goes out to Susan Woodcock and Rodger Walker the creators of the Custom Workroom Conference. Their suggestions and support of the NUA as we were just getting off the ground were invaluable.

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software