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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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  • May 31, 2024 3:26 AM | Keaven Hartt (Administrator)

    By Monica Rhodes


    Breaking into Upholstery: A Pathway to a Skilled Trade from Your Home with Kymm Clark of LullCo

    Kymm Clark, owner of LullCo, is emphatic that the upholstery trade is robust and provides a viable path to self-employment. “There will never NOT be a need for upholstery. Humans will use furniture until the end of time,” says Kymm. But, “there are a lot of hats to wear” to build successful business.

    Kymm is a well-known professional upholsterer and upholstery educator with a strong on-line and social media presence and 20 years of prior experience in marketing. For the NUA’s May webinar, Kymm brought to the table her considerable knowledge on each of these fronts. The result is an amazing tutorial for prospective upholstery professionals jammed packed with valuable advice on maximizing resources and avoiding serious pitfalls on the path to establishing an upholstery business. Kymm shares her philosophy and approach to education (she calls what she does “transitional training”) for people with some skills who want to do professional upholstery but face serious challenges to obtaining apprenticeships and other types of hands-on instruction. In addition to education and educational resources, Kymm covers everything from project planning, to business management, client management and scaling your business responsibly in the context of her own experiences working from home and from a makers’ space vs. a brick-and-mortar shop.

    Don’t miss this opportunity to learn how to break into professional upholstery from home!


    Missed the National Upholstery Association’s May Webinar? Click here to watch it!

  • May 20, 2024 10:56 PM | Keaven Hartt (Administrator)

    May, 2024

    By Keaven Willa Hartt

    Thank you to all of our members who completed this year’s Member Survey - so many of you participated and gave us valuable feedback, which will continue to help us grow as an organization.

    Here’s where we stand today:

    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

    • 4% Educators

    • 4% Industry Partners

    • 15% Students

    • 6% Retirees

    Compared to 2022, we saw a 50% growth in Retirees, while Educators decreased by the same amount.

    Last year our membership grew by 46%, and we now have over 250 members country-wide!

    Our members find us through Social Media, and join the NUA to support the upholstery trade, and for educational and networking opportunities.

    • 44% of members find us through Social Media

    • 83% joined for Educational Opportunities

    • 73% joined to Support the Upholstery Industry

    • 63% joined for Networking Opportunities

    Sharing NUA posts, or talking about us on social media really helps! And did you know that we can help you host a Regional Meet-Up to get together and network with other upholsterers in your area? Check out our Regional Events page to learn more.

    The National Upholstery Association appreciates your support of the upholstery industry, and we endeavor to provide you with ample benefits in return for your support! Some of our offerings include:

    • Quarterly Newsletter – Stay abreast of NUA community and industry news

    • Events Calendar – Check out upcoming industry events

    • Monthly Educational Webinars – On varying upholstery and business-related topics

    • Community Meetings – Meet your peers, ask questions, and join the discussion

    • NUA Blog – Read stories about fellow members and industry experts

    • 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 for a robust Plate & Panel discussion while attending CWC!

    *Items marked in RED are available to members only

    This year we are working to revamp our online shop for fun upholstery swag. Coming soon!

    The NUA Webinars and Newsletters are among the highest rated member benefits.

    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 and Mentorship Program rank among the lowest.

    Last year we worked hard to redefine our Industry Partner levels, and have seen a significant growth in IP Members. We reach out to our IPs on a regular basis to get their news and any possible deals and discounts to pass along to our members. The more IPs we have, the more deals we can pass your way! If you buy materials from a supplier who isn’t an Industry Partner of the NUA, consider asking them to join us!

    We launched our new Mentorship Program last year, so it’s no surprise that there would be a few kinks to work out as we get up and going. The good news is, there have been so many of us ready and willing to participate in the program! We’ve received lots of feedback, and look forward to making this better as we move forward. Thank you to all who helped to make this a successful Phase 1. 

    When asked about additional benefits, our members are most interested in access to a regular news feed highlighting industry news and research, and a trade specific magazine.

    The feedback we’ve received this year says our members are still looking for a regular news feed highlighting industry news and research, and we’re excited to say that we’re feeling close to launching this! Last year the NUA Board started using a new app for our communications, and we are hoping to open this up soon to all members as a place where we can stay connected, share ideas, help problem solve, and stay abreast of industry news, etc.

    We wish there were a trade specific publication for us to nerd out about, too, and have this on our list of projects; this would be a huge boon for our industry! In the meantime, we encourage you to submit topics, and written work, for our blog, which is updated regularly.

    Our members like to receive their NUA news via email, newsletter, and social media!

    We are so excited to have been able to hire a part time PR Coordinator this year, which has been a huge help for regular social media updates and graphic design needs. Our members like to hear from us in a variety of different ways, and we try not to overload you with too many communications, while still keeping you informed of anything of import!

    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!

    When asked what additional benefits they would like to see offered, members said:

    • An enrollment tutorial to help acquaint new members with all the benefits available to them

    • More Regional Meet-Ups 

    • A forum or message board / a place to sell tools & equipment

    • More posts related to supplies and suppliers, as well as discounts

    Conclusion

    The NUA is turning 5 this year, and we are proud of what we’ve accomplished already. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to build a robust national movement, and this volunteer-run non-profit has done so much in such a short time.

    It’s clear that we overwhelmingly want to create more community and networking for the trade, and it’s no wonder, with many of us working alone. Whether you decide to host a Regional Meet-Up, or possibly join us for our Plate & Panel discussion at CWC this year, we're excited to come together for more in-person events in the future.

    Our members have overwhelmingly rated their membership value as “more than fair”, and are “very likely” to renew their memberships next year! It really means a lot to us to have gained your trust and support as we strive to elevate this trade, and we will continue to work to bring exciting new opportunities for our industry.

    If you want to get more involved, consider applying to become a volunteer. We would love to have you join us on a Committee, where you could help plan Events, or furthering Educational opportunities.

    We’re excited to see what we can do together in the next 5 years!

    Keaven Willa Hartt
    President



  • April 19, 2024 5:30 PM | Keaven Hartt (Administrator)

    How Jamika Smith uses upholstery to transform more than just furniture.

    By Keaven Willa Hartt

    Jamika Smith, of Teena’s Legacy, based in Gary, Indiana, has been using upholstery in activism for the past decade. Honoring the memory of her entrepreneurial grandmother, Alberteen, after whom the foundation is named, Jamika shares the can-do spirit of “Teena”, who never met a roadside castoff that she couldn’t see the potential in - something I’m sure many of us in the upholstery trade can relate to.

    A self-taught seamstress, among many other things, Teena turned other people’s trash into treasures, and Jamika grew up watching her grandmother showcase all of her latest work in a makeshift showroom in the garage. From an early age, Teena encouraged Jamika to get her hands dirty and see the possibilities in things that others had cast aside. 

    Fast forward to the years of Teena’s Legacy, a non-profit she formed in 2013, Jamika has been doing just that. And her projects encompass more than just curbside frames in need of a makeover; she also sees the potential in people that society has long overlooked and underserved. She sees upholstery as a tool to engage and uplift young people, disenfranchised people, unhoused people, and anyone else willing to pick up a staple gun and try their hand at a new skill. 

    In the ten years that she’s run her non-profit, Jamika says she has “worked with all ages, from Kindergarten to 70+, and all races, and genders.” She says “it just evolved, in the spirit of: if you want to learn it, I will share it.” Most of her work has been with high-school age girls, with whom she uses upholstery to instill confidence and generate positive self-image.

    As if the day to day operations of her non-profit weren’t enough, Jamika set a steep goal for herself last year: to push out a huge number of pieces, all custom, all with a story, and bring together a number of collaborators, to put on a show stopping exhibit at the Marshall J. Gardner Center for the Arts. The show was called Blooming Out of Trauma: The Intersection of Upholstery and Activist Art, and it opened in February, just in time for Black History Month.

    In addition to modern art fused with upholstered pieces, the show shared a lot of history. A very human history, with all its flaws and unsightly moments. The works were meant to start conversations, and to push people out of their comfort zones; to make them learn, question, and look deeper.

    The collaborations were with local artists, who she says she chose in part because she “knew that it would be more powerful if it was a collective effort. There are a lot of artists out there that do amazing work, but have a hard time sharing their work. So, since [she had] the space, why not share the space with those artists?” She wanted the exhibit to be intergenerational, too: “The youngest artist was 17, and the oldest was 65. We had men and women. We had different mediums; tie-dye, oil paint, sculpture, leather burning.” The only criteria the works had to meet was that they followed the theme of the show: Blooming Out of Trauma.

    Jamika knew that the show could be a little controversial, and is proud of the many responses it produced. It evoked a variety of emotions in people, from anger to sadness, joy to intrigue, hope to shame. Of course it is unfortunate that some people responded to the art by taking action against it, but that has always been the case with poignant artwork, and it just goes to show that the trauma is real, and these conversations are important to have. The exhibit was an acknowledgement of the past, not an endorsement of it.

    One of the exhibits that caused the biggest stir was a piece titled “Woolworth Lunch Counter”, which spoke to how African and Black History is often covered up. Three bar stools lined the counter, upholstered in hand-sewn, hand-painted mudcloth, from the country of Mali, paired with cream leather. The chairs each had a printed piece of the Woolworth sit-ins from the Civil Rights Movement on their backs, with a zippered portion, allowing the viewer the option to cover up the history or leave it exposed. Complete with a “white’s only” sign above the counter, and a mirror reflecting the visitors, which forced them to see themselves within that uncomfortable history. As one of the largest installations of the exhibit, Jamika says “a lot of people really gravitated toward the Woolworth lunch counter. They appreciated the concept and the meaning behind it, but they also appreciated the message of how we tend to overlook or cover up our history.” When you look at your reflection in the mirror over the counter, Jamika says “there are these emotions that start to come up.” She arrived at the gallery one day to find the “white’s only” portion of the exhibit covered up, because it made someone that uncomfortable. “Which is the point. The point is, how you push through that.”

    Another part of the exhibit that caused notable reactions was a large wall hung map of Africa, titled Motherland, which was handmade by Jamika herself. Measuring an impressive 60 inches by 40 inches, each country in the continent was individually cut out of plywood, then upholstered in vibrant African print fabrics from Ghana, and trimmed with gold piping. This piece was all about how rich the “Motherland” is, and how that richness has been exploited over centuries of theft and greed. There was literature accompanying the wall mounted work, which explained the history of slavery, and how the Catholic Church had ordained slavery. That literature was removed from the exhibit, and had to be replaced. “It’s history. It doesn’t change if you hide it,” Jamika says. “We’ve tiptoed around this, but we should talk about it. Everyone has their own prejudice; we’re human. The question is, what do you do with it?” Being aware of historical facts doesn’t change them. We have to acknowledge our mistakes to learn from them, just as we do when we are tearing down and rebuilding furniture. Pretending the mistakes were never made doesn’t result in quality upholstery, and the same can be said when learning from our shared history.

    Although there was discomfort felt by some attendees, there were also moments of great coming-together and healing. Over 100 people attended the opening of the exhibit, and there were other wonderful moments of community building in the weeks that followed. There were events held in the space, like an African dance session, a Black Experience Poetry Night, and a 7th grade art class field trip, where 39 students participated in a scavenger hunt, and a “sip and paint.”

    If she had to choose a favorite piece in the exhibit, Jamika says she would pick the Harriet Tubman piece; an antique rocking chair covered in an original tapestry made of multicolored forest scenery, with a hidden message waiting to be found within. Jamika says this is her favorite “because it was so subtle and powerful at the same time. In order for you to get the message, you really had to LOOK, and pay attention to what the chair was saying.” She says a lot of people just glanced over this, and took the old, antique rocker at face value. But some people looked a bit deeper, and once they did, they were blown away by the messages sharing the history of Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, which is what made it so powerful; “the reaction from people once they got it.”

    With the major success of this exhibit under her belt, Jamika is going to “keep using upholstery for activism, as a different way to start conversations.” She is looking for a grant to continue her apprenticeship program. She envisions hiring a few young women, who will act as Teena’s Legacy Ambassadors, going from school to school to spread the word, and hopefully recruit others to help to continue this important work.

    When asked what the end goal is, Jamika says she doesn’t expect everyone who goes through her workshops to become upholsterers. It’s more about learning how capable they are, and how possible it is to change things with their own two hands. “Upholstery isn’t for everybody… We are a special breed of individuals, and not everyone wants to do this after the workshops. But during the process they learn a lot about themselves, what they like, what they don't like, what they want, and don't want.”

  • January 24, 2024 8:30 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)


    If you’re reading this message, YOU ROCK!

    Because of members and friends like YOU, the National Upholstery Association had one of our best years to date. Thank you for your continued support and belief in our mission!

    We can achieve wonderful things when we work together, and we already have proof that your help is making a difference.

    In 2023...

    We saw 46% Growth in our MembershipWow! Our Members make everything we do possible, so THANK YOU! Thank you to everyone who has been a member, and thank you to everyone who just joined! 

    Our Volunteer base expanded by 15! Volunteers are critical to our success; it makes a huge difference to donate a little of your time and skills.

    We had great engagement in the much-anticipated launch of our new Mentorship Program! Through our Mentorship platform, we’ve managed to pair up loads of helpful Mentors with eager Mentees, regardless of experience level, and we’re just getting started!

    We redefined our Industry Partner Membership Levels, and gained 12 new IP Members this year! We now offer Industry Partner Memberships at Bronze, Silver, and Gold levels, with different benefits for each. Industry Partners are a huge help in making our mission a reality. Thank you to all of our IPs for believing in and supporting the future of the Upholstery Trade. Together we are making a difference, and we appreciate you!

    We launched our new and improved Job Board! We’ve been working hard on this one, and believe that the updated version is easier to use, and is a really great resource for connecting members of our community with new employment opportunities

    As our Membership increased this year, we also increased the size of our Board of Directors by 4, making it a 14 Member Board! We believe this increase will better help us to serve our growing community.

    2023 also had us participating in not one, but TWO national trade show conferences! 

    We attended the Furniture Manufacturer’s Expo for the second year, where we offered lectures, hosted a booth, and networked with some awesome industry people. 

    We also went back to visit our friends at the Custom Workroom Conference, this time in Cincinnati, Ohio, where we launched the release of a custom short run t-shirt: The Anatomy of an Upholsterer, only available at our Exhibitor Marketplace booth. And last year’s pre-conference field trip to Colonial Williamsburg was such a success, we decided to up the ante this year with TWO pre-conference events! 

    The NUA was proud to host our fully-booked French Mattress Tufting class, taught by the talented Polly Waite, where 40 eager students worked on their own cushions. Thank you to our generous sponsors, CS Osborne & Co, Foam to Size, and Workroom Buttons, for donating the materials to make this class possible! And thank you to Polly, for her stellar tutelage.

    We hosted a fun cocktail party the night before CWC began, which was a great way for folks to mingle and network before the conference got underway. What a pleasure it is to get to meet everyone in person! Speaking of which, we can’t wait to see all of you at the Custom Workroom Conference 2024 in Providence, RI. Stay tuned to see what fun pre-events we come up with for this year’s meet up!

    And on the topic of meet-ups, we helped to host a Regional Meet-Up this year, at Stitchroom in New York! Regional Meet-Ups are fun, and an awesome way to network in your own communities. Anyone can host Regional Meet-Ups, and the NUA will even help you do it! Send us an email for more info.

    On top of all of that, we also lowered prices on our Merch Store, worked to update and revise our Strategic Plan, as well as updated our bylaws, and made some great changes to our Reference Materials Recommended Reading interface.

    It was an amazing, successful year, and we should be proud of what we’ve accomplished together!

    Just as we achieved so much in 2023, we have big plans for 2024. 

    As we move into the new year with fresh goals and intentions, our theme is: Growth. We have already shown what amazing strides we can make in a year, and I am certain that we can keep this momentum going and continue to hit new heights.

    We look forward to attending more conferences, helping to host more Regional Meet-Ups, continuing to strengthen our membership benefits, and connecting with more of you through community outreach.

    I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to our outgoing President, Harmony Maraldo, for her hard work and dedication to the NUA during her time in this seat. It is not possible to adequately convey just how many of our successes have been thanks to her constant efforts behind the scenes, and I will forever appreciate her mentorship and support as we transition our roles!

    I would like to also take this opportunity to say a big thank you, and a fond farewell, to our last outgoing Founder, and original NUA President, Rachel Fletcher, for her outstanding work advocating for the trade, and helping to build this organization from the ground up. We owe her a great debt, and wish her all the best of luck in her future endeavors!

    And thank you also to the rest of our hardworking Board of Directors! They make all of this possible!

    I am honored to take over the role of President this year, and am grateful for the faith placed in me. In this new position, I will continue to do everything that I can to make this industry a more inclusive and supportive place. I believe in the future of this craft, and look forward to seeing what we can achieve working together!

    Wishing you all the best for 2024,

    Keaven Willa Hartt
    President, National Upholstery Association 2024/2025

  • January 22, 2024 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)


    Friends and Members of the NUA,

    It is with a mix of emotions that I write to you today as I bid farewell to my role as President of the National Upholstery Association. Serving in this capacity has been an honor and a privilege, and I am immensely grateful for the trust and support you have shown me throughout my tenure.

    Together, we have achieved remarkable milestones and strengthened the bond within our upholstery community. The shared passion for our craft has been the driving force behind our successes, and I am confident that the NUA will continue to thrive under the guidance of our new president.

    I am delighted to introduce Keaven Willa Hartt, who is stepping into the role of President. Keaven brings a wealth of experience and a deep commitment to our shared goals. She has been an NUA member since 2021 and a Board member since 2022, where she quickly stepped up into the open role of Secretary. As a Board member and volunteer, Keaven has taken on a number of projects, including strategic planning coordination, website administration, and CWC pre-event coordination (just to name a few). I have full confidence in her ability to lead our association to new heights and foster an environment of collaboration, innovation, and mutual support.

    As I reflect on the moments we've shared, the challenges we've overcome, and the victories we've celebrated together, I am filled with gratitude. Each member and volunteer has contributed to the success of our association, and I am proud to have been part of this remarkable journey.

    I want to express my deepest appreciation to the dedicated board members, committee chairs, volunteers, and every member who has played a role in making our association vibrant and dynamic. Your dedication has been the driving force behind our accomplishments, and I have no doubt that you will continue to contribute your expertise and passion in the years to come.

    Although my role as President may be coming to an end, my commitment to the National Upholstery Association remains unwavering. I will continue to serve on the Board of Directors and look forward to continuing my involvement and supporting the association in new capacities.

    Thank you for the privilege of serving as your President. I am excited about the future of our association under the capable leadership of Keaven. Please join me in welcoming her and offering your support as we embark on this next chapter together.

    Wishing you all continued success and fulfillment in your upholstery endeavors.

    Warm regards,

    Harmony Maraldo
    Outgoing President, National Upholstery Association


  • January 13, 2024 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    Andrew Bodjanac, NUA Director at Large and General Manager of Fabric Showcase, recounts his upholstery shop’s transformation of 2,564 theater seats at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, WA.

    Bird's eye view of Benaroya Hall while upholsterers replace hall seatingYou always hear about the power of word of mouth advertising – some use it as a badge of honor, bragging that they don't have to spend a dime on getting their name out there. The prized referral is still truly the best chance to land a job in really any industry, but it will only take you so far if you don't do anything with it. Once received, you have a choice: follow up, or let it pass by. It's kinda like a train – you can jump on or jump off of it. If you jump on, it takes a little to get going, but once it’s gained momentum it’s rolling down the track at full steam. That's how we’ve felt about our business lately, especially on the commercial side of things.

    Earlier this summer, our business, Fabric Showcase, had an amazing opportunity to reupholster the fixed and loose seating at Benaroya Hall in Seattle, home of the Seattle Symphony. This year, the hall celebrates 25 years since its opening; it is a beautiful venue with a special focus on acoustical integrity.

    Background

    How exactly did a small upholstery shop in Cleveland get this 2,564 seat job in Seattle? That's a very good question, especially when most shops rarely get the opportunity to bid on projects of that size. To answer that question we have to go back to late 2018 when we were presented with a problem to solve. If any of you have made it to Mansfield, OH, you’ll know that it's known for Shawshank Prison, Snow Trails, and Mid-Ohio Race track – and not necessarily the arts.

    Hall seating with new foam, stacked and waiting for upholstery fabric

    However, there is an absolutely beautiful theater in downtown Mansfield called the Renaissance Theatre, which opened in 1928. This theater approached us with a limited budget, requesting reupholstery of the worst 50 of their 1,400 seats. They wanted only the seats reupholstered, not the backs, which required matching the old maroon red velvet that was already faded and worn. We sourced a Kazmir velvet that was a perfect match. They approved, we completed the re-upholstery, and everyone was happy. Little did we know that the small Renaissance Theatre was a part of a larger organization, and when Benaroya Hall in Seattle was looking to renovate their seating, we were one of a few businesses that received a referral.

    In late November 2019, about a year after the Renaissance project was complete, I was sitting in my office answering emails one morning when I saw an email with the subject line “Opportunity to Bid.” These usually come in my inbox once in a while for construction and non-upholstery type union jobs so they go straight to the spam folder. However, this email said “theater seats” at the end of the subject and it caught my eye. I opened the email and found about 40 pages of specs, including the 2,248 fixed seating project and 316 chair project for Benaroya Hall.

    I called my dad and said “Hey Pops, check your email and tell me what ya think?” My dad is incredibly supportive and has always said “son, you dream it and I'll make it happen” so I pretty much knew what he was going to say. We accepted the notice, booked a flight and hotel, and scheduled a walkthrough. 

    Walkthrough and Bid

    If you’ve ever done a walkthrough, it's a weird experience, because your competition is there at the same time, asking questions, talking about techniques and timelines. As a residential upholsterer that never happens, and if it does it's because the client accidentally double booked the both of you while attempting to get multiple quotes, making for a very awkward meeting. I was really excited to go on the road and was just happy for the opportunity to experience how the process works on the larger scale upholstery projects. But I definitely felt like a small fish in a very large pond. 

    Mustard colored upholstery fabric laid out on a table and marked for cutting

    We approached it like the Renaissance project – we just moved the decimal 

    point over a few spots to the right. We estimated the time it would take to sew the bullnose seats, upholster the tight back panels, and procure all the supplies. We factored in Seattle living arrangements, car rental, and food for 7 weeks. What a job! We said a quick prayer, hit send, and just like that the bid was in; all the while not knowing that the world would soon come to a guillotine halt and the project of a lifetime we just bid on would be in jeopardy. 

    I won't bore you with the COVID details, but in short, we delayed 2 years, went through a few price increases, and in the end they stuck with us and we stuck with them. We made sure we had a good lawyer to go over all the legal jargon. Then, in January 2023 we amended the contract and secured a deadline of September (when the hall re-opened after the summer shut down) to have the 

    hall ready for its first show on September 15th. We broke up the project into 3 sections: Preparation, Production, and Installation. 

    Preparation

    The most unique and vital part of this project was that the new chairs (seat and back) had to be within a certain measure of sound wave parameter to pass the acoustical test. The new chairs needed to absorb a specific amount of sound waves while in the upright position to ensure when the symphony plays that there is a pleasing amount of deflection and absorption. This was the most educational part of the whole project – learning how all the components affect the absorption of sound, including the covering fabric, fire barrier, foam, and adhesives – they all play a part on how sound waves are absorbed into the materials. 

    Upholsterers on the balcony wearing rigging while assembling newly upholstered seating

    We had 8 chairs shipped to us, then mocked-up 2 rows just as they would sit in the hall redone in all new materials. Then off to Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories in Geneva, IL (outside Chicago) we went. The chairs were put in a sound chamber with two 18’’ thick walls for testing. The test took about an hour or so – we said another quick prayer – and we passed the test the first time! This was the biggest relief, because if the test seats fell out of range of sound absorption, we’d need to reselect fabric, possibly choose a different density of foam, and book at least one more trip to Chicago.

    With the acoustical test behind us, we focused on getting all the materials in. The specs included every component to be shipped to us: the fabric arrived on six pallets, each with nine 30-50 yard rolls. The metal spring decks, seat foam, wooden curved backs, and back foam all arrived at our workroom in 2 semi truck loads to be unboxed, organized, assembled and upholstered.

    Production

    The day after Memorial Day 2023 was Production Day One. This was a challenge because we still had our own clients with projects in the schedule to complete. The key was to have a staff that was on board with the process, and everyone in the workroom was ready for one crazy summer. We assigned half of our staff to the Benaroya job and the others worked on our clients' projects. Each worker's skills were used to the max and we used the time as a teaching opportunity, getting out of our collective comfort zone.

    One manager overseeing each of the two schedules ensured consistent quality and kept both production schedules flowing. We cut fabric for 3 weeks and kept our sewers and upholsterers busy all the way up to the day before the semi arrived. On July 29th, we loaded up the truck with the completed components. We said another prayer and then the truck was off, arriving in Seattle 5 days later. 

    Installation

    Stage right view of Benaroya Hall, showcasing newly upholstered seating by Fabric Showcase

    When our crew arrived in Seattle, ahead of the truck, we were presented with a unique situation – we had to be tied off due to the low railing on the balconies. Because we were performing work so close to the low railing, the city required us to go through a training program. (Apparently, a guest in high heels can sit and walk in the front row of the 3rd tier balcony with a glass of wine, but we couldn't peek over the same railing without a full harness.) So off to 2 days of fall protection training we went. Our semi arrived on time and we began the process of removing the old seats and backs, replacing them with the freshly upholstered components from our Cleveland, OH workroom. The harnesses were annoying but the goal was to keep everyone safe, so we pushed through. 

    These were long days and nights as we unpacked 400+ large boxes, making sure all the sizes and components went exactly where they were supposed to. We disassembled all the old seats and backs, discarded them into countless trips to the dumpster, and then installed the new seats and backs.  We finished the 2,248 fixed seats and started the second phase: the 316 loose chairs that were scattered throughout the building. We had laborers tearing off the old materials from the chairs while the upholsterers applied the cut foam and fabric we prepared back home ahead of time. All said, we spent 7 weeks in Seattle and overall it's a beautiful place. Mt. Rainier greeted us each day with a mirage-like picture that looked almost fake as we traveled down Interstate 5 south to our condo.

    Conclusion

    These were some of the highlights of our project with still many details left out that time couldn't allow. I can't say enough about the staff there at Benaroya Hall, LMN Design, and Andrew Clapham and Associates; we were very blessed to work with their clear vision, ability to accommodate, and laughs during our stay.  In total, we spent 7 weeks on-site and each sacrificed a lot to make it happen. But in the end, this is a story about how a small upholstery shop in Cleveland used a referral from Mansfield to upholster 2,500+ seats in Seattle.

    Stage left view of Benaroya Hall, showcasing newly upholstered seating by Fabric Showcase

    Word of mouth is still undefeated.

  • October 06, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    by Harmony Maraldo, NUA President

    A huge THANK YOU to NUA volunteers Bonnie Williams, Amy Petersen, Jonathan Bennett, Kim Newell, and Keaven Hartt for helping coordinate the NUA pre-events and Marketplace booth. You are all rock stars and the lifeblood of our organization.

    Also, a special thank you to Susan Woodcock, Rodger Walker, and Laurie Medford for coordinating such an amazing event year after year. What you do is so incredibly important for our industry and I feel grateful to have you as NUA partners and friends.

    Want to view more photos of this year’s event? Check out our photo gallery!

    How many of you joined us at the Custom Workroom Conference this year?

    French Mattress Class with Polly WaiteThis was my second year in attendance, and I had even more fun than last year! The National Upholstery Association kicked off the conference on Sunday afternoon with a French Mattress Cushion class, taught by Polly Waite of Polliander Studios. This particular event required more logistics and planning than previous years, but the effort paid off. We saw a full class of 40 participants, with 4 volunteers assisting. Honestly, I was a little nervous that we’d encounter some unforeseeable setback. (There’s always at least one in every event, isn’t there?) But overall, the class was a great success, and each participant went home with their very own cushion sample.

    After the class, I popped over to the conference center to pick up my conference badge (with some extra goodies this year!) Then returned back to the Hyatt for the National Upholstery Association’s Happy Hour event. There, our class participants and a few additional guests joined us for drinks and appetizers. I loved having this time to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. While I’ve grown accustomed to fostering community remotely through Zoom calls, nothing compares to in-person interaction. I felt like I was home.

    Jonathan and Harmony at the WCAA Cocktail Social

    Monday marked the beginning of class instruction at the Custom Workroom Conference. All classes fell under one of four different tracks, ensuring there was a relevant topic for everyone: 1) a Business track, 2) a Window Treatment track, 3) an Upholstery track, and 4) a Cross-Industry track, which included widely-appealing topics with crossover into both the custom drapery and upholstery workroom industries. All the instructors were amazing! I took loads of notes, and dutifully stashed my handouts in the 3-ring binder provided to me at registration.

    One special highlight of the day was the luncheon and welcome program, sponsored by Hanes. Susan Woodcock performed a top-notch Mr. Rogers impression, and fan favorite (and NUA Board member) Jonathan Bennett led the participants in several engaging rounds of workroom-themed bingo. Another highlight was the evening WCAA cocktail social, sponsored by Kirsch Drapery Hardware. Jonathan made another appearance, this time in a flashy sequined-and-tasseled jacket. What a sight to see!

    Tuesday kicked off the Exhibitor Marketplace event. I just love walking around to all the booths talking shop with vendors and checking out their wares. (And yes, I did break out my credit card!) The CWC Education Station was one of my favorite places to mingle and watch product demos. 

    Like many others, I even joined in and took pics at the selfie stations around the floor, though I’ll admit I didn’t get the chance to post them all to social media. Back at the NUA booth, I talked to so many of you, our members and friends, about our mission and the programs and benefits we offer our members and the industry at large. I really enjoyed our conversations and hope we meet again at future events!

    Harmony at the NUA booth at CWC

    At the NUA booth, we held an upholstery book raffle, giving away a total of 6 book prizes. The winners (and the books they went home with) include:

    • Julia Horrocks - Seven Hills Nest (Design Directory of Bedding)
    • Bernadette Miller - Fair Street Design (Early Seating Upholstery – Reading the Evidence)
    • Carol Dykhouse - Creations by Carol (The Sewing Master Guide: From Basic to Expert)
    • Lindsay Orwig - A Chick & A Chair (The Little Upholstery Book, signed by the author)
    • Paula Pagonakis (Upholstery Drapes & Slip Covers)
    • Robin Matthews - Seams Sew Right (Simple Upholstery & Slipcovers)

    The NUA also sold limited edition Anatomy of an Upholsterer tee shirts, with the names of each body part crowdsourced from our friends at the Professional Upholsterer’s Network on Facebook. We put the names of all shirt-naming post participants into a box, and asked Lindsay Orwig to pull a random name to win a free tee-shirt. Congrats to our winner, Cheryl Valleroy - we hope you enjoy your shirt!

    If you weren’t a winner, or didn’t get the chance to pick up a shirt at the show, don’t worry – we have a stack left and they may make an appearance at one of NUA’s future events!

    Kim and Lindsay pick a winner

    Wednesday was the final day of educational classes and closing remarks. A bittersweet day, I found myself incredibly exhausted after a packed schedule, yet also sad to part ways with my friends and colleagues. Susan made a heartwarming speech to close out the day, then, I joined shoulders with my fellow conference participants for a final photo and goodbye. Finally, with a tear in my eye, I set off for the airport and the long journey home.

    Mark your calendars for next year’s event!

    Custom Workroom Conference

    September 23-25, 2024

    Crowne Plaza Providence-Warwick

    Providence, Rhode Island

  • July 22, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    Lewis Mabon rests on a chair manufactured during the Micro Plant eventGreetings, NUA friends and supporters! We're back from the Furniture Manufacturing Expo 2023, and boy, was it an event to remember! The National Upholstery Association (NUA) graced the expo for the second year running, leaving a trail of inspiration and innovation in their wake. Below is a recap.

    Education: Upholstery Track

    As proud sponsors of the Upholstery Track, the NUA went all out to empower attendees with knowledge and expertise. Board members Lewis Mabon, Jonathan Bennett, and Marta Powers, took the stage, leading captivating educational sessions on both days of the event. From cutting-edge upholstery technology to the art of fabric matching, from designing plywood frames in 3D CAD to sewing with vinyl from a custom upholstery perspective—every session was a goldmine of insights and skills.

    One highlight of the Upholstery Track was the in-depth panel discussion led by Marta Powers, where the importance of ongoing training in the upholstery industry was passionately explored. Attendees soaked up wisdom from seasoned professionals including Susan Woodcock (Custom Workroom Conference), Rick J. Shew (Caldwell Community College), and Brian Craig (Catawba Valley Furniture Academy & Alexander Furniture Academy) gaining fresh perspectives and igniting their passion for the craft.

    Marta also led a discussion with Ewa Powell (Modern Fabrics), talking about sustainability and her efforts to keep overrun yardage out of the landfill. All of Modern Fabric’s product offerings were once slated for the landfill and are currently being resold to homeowners, upholsterers, interior designers and hobbyists who believe in the reuse of furniture and reducing their global footprint.

    Micro Plant Event: A Trailblazing Journey

    Breaking new ground, the NUA sponsored the all-new Micro Plant event in collaboration with other FME exhibitors. This immersive journey took attendees on a marked path around the show floor, offering a firsthand experience of the chair construction process.

    The Micro Plant event started at the NUA's booth, showcasing the design step of the manufacturing processThe tour began at the NUA Booth for the design step, where attendees could view a book of drawings that made the manufacture of the chair possible. Next came the selection of premium wood, followed by expertly cutting the frame to match the design flawlessly. Attendees witnessed the meticulous selection, cutting, and sewing of leather—every step carefully executed to craft a masterpiece. Finally, the skilled artisans at Domenick's Furniture Manufacturer assembled a complete chair right before the audience's eyes!

    Bill Richards, the Sales Director with Zünd America, took charge of guiding tours through the Micro Plant on both event days. His enthusiasm and expertise added a touch of magic to the experience, leaving attendees in awe of the craftsmanship behind every chair.

    YouTube: Bill Zund describes the Micro Plant event at FME

    Micro Plant Auction: Giving Back to Upholstery Community

    FME’s commitment to the upholstery community extended beyond knowledge-sharing. At the end of the two-day extravaganza, the show coordinators held a special silent auction for the two completed chairs from the Micro Plant event. All proceeds from the auction will be generously donated to support the NUA's mission of fostering excellence in the upholstery domain.

    The auction was an opportunity for attendees to take home a tangible piece of the event while contributing to a noble cause. This act of giving back exemplified the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration that defined the expo.

    Thank you to the Volunteers Behind NUA's FME Exhibition

    Acknowledgments to Leslie Hug for her support in running the NUA booth at the Furniture Manufacturing Expo. With her warm demeanor and vast knowledge, Leslie connected with attendees, fostering a sense of camaraderie that epitomizes the NUA's mission. We extend our deepest gratitude to Leslie for making the trade show experience truly exceptional and unforgettable.

    The NUA also thanks Lewis Mabon, for his invaluable assistance in planning and coordinating the association’s presence at the Furniture Manufacturing Expo. His efforts were crucial to the success of the show, and the NUA genuinely appreciates his contributions.

    A Resounding Success

    As the curtains draw on the Furniture Manufacturing Expo 2023, the NUA reflects back with pride and fulfillment. Their dedication to promoting education, innovation, and connection within the upholstery world was evident throughout the event.

    Kudos to the National Upholstery Association and its volunteers for orchestrating such an outstanding presence at the expo! We can't wait to see what they have in store for us next year.

    Dominic Amador and Daniel Valentin of CS Osborne / Massasoit Tackband, one of NUA's Gold Industry Partner membersDominic Amador and Daniel Valentin of CS Osborne / Massasoit Tackband, one of NUA's Gold Industry Partner members

    The 27 Piece Puzzle: Attendees try their hand at assembling a plywood chair frame The 27 Piece Puzzle: Attendees try their hand at assembling a plywood chair frame

    Ewa Powell from Modern Fabrics discusses her business' goals of precycling and sustainability Ewa Powell from Modern Fabrics discusses her business' goals of precycling and sustainability

    Karsten Siewert of Enkev, speaker on natural upholstery alternatives Karsten Siewert of Enkev, speaker on natural upholstery alternatives

    Last stop on the Micro Plant tour - upholstery in action Last stop on the Micro Plant tour - upholstery in action

    Hector the master upholsterer - last stop on the Micro Plant tour Hector the master upholsterer - last stop on the Micro Plant tour

    One of two chairs auctioned from the Micro Plant event One of two chairs auctioned from the Micro Plant event

    Finished Micro Plant chair Finished Micro Plant chair

  • June 25, 2023 10:36 AM | Laura Archer

    A Conversation with Polly Waite

    This month we had the pleasure of asking Polly Waite, a classically trained upholsterer, member of the AMUSF and instructor of our CWC Pre-event French Mattress Class, a few questions about our trade and her background. Since Polly is across the pond in the UK, we chatted via email and her insightful answers provided a window into the pride she takes in the tradition of the upholstery trade and the possible negative implications the on-demand culture can have on a skilled trade. 

    Can you tell us about your experience as a classically trained upholsterer and furniture restorer? How has your background in design and family history in antiques influenced your work? How did you get started in the trade? 

    I have been a classically trained upholsterer for around 15 years now. It has been such a rewarding career for me. The sense of pride and achievement you get when you restore something to its former glory days is pretty awesome. And with the huge variety of furniture out there, it never gets boring and I never stop pushing myself to reach perfection. I think I've always been creative but I've never found the right outlet for it until I started down this road. My family used to work in antiques so I'm used to going to auctions and house clearances to try and find treasure hidden amongst the tat. I think that just made me always appreciate and admire the craftsmanship that went in to antiques so the fact that I've fallen into an industry that helps restore those pieces and involves the same level of skill and craftsmanship makes perfect sense but it was never planned.

    As a member of the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishing, what role do you believe professional organizations play in promoting high standards of technique and customer service in the upholstery trade?

    I strongly believe there is a huge need for organizations like the AMUSF. They promote and help uphold a high level of standard and training. We have valuable pieces of history put in our hands and if people don't know what they're doing then those wonderful antiques will be ruined and won't be there anymore. Sadly, I hear the phrase "oh I've done some upholstery" all too often, people think they can pick up a staple gun and watch a YouTube video and then become a professional upholsterer. Don't get me wrong, we all have to start somewhere but if you want to be a professional in any trade you should seek proper training. I certainly wouldn't let a doctor operate on me just because they'd watched a few YouTube videos and thought it was pretty simple. I know I'm not a doctor but you get my point.

    Could you share some of your most creative and challenging upholstery commissions? How did you approach these unique projects?

    I once had to make 2 cloud sofas for a festival. Someone I know is the art director for a festival and she asked if I could come and help out, I said yes as I love doing fun, random, creative projects. One day I was spray painting baby dolls gold and making wings for them to turn them into cherubs and the next I was asked to knock up 2 cloud sofas. In 2 days, this was a bit of a tall order but I do love a challenge and with the help of a carpenter, we did it. Luckily, they turned out just as good as the image I had in my head and they were super comfy too.

    Being a trusted member of The House Of Upcycling and a mentor to future upcycle designers and upholsterers, what advice do you have for aspiring professionals in the upholstery industry?

    The best advice I would give to anyone would be to get some good training and practice, practice, practice. Upholstery is a big craft, there is so much to learn, which is great but don't beat yourself up just because haven't learnt everything or mastered it all in a year. Practice and take your time with it.

    We understand you were a specialist restorer on Channel 4's show, "Mend It For Money." How did this experience contribute to your expertise in upholstery restoration? What were some of the most memorable restorations you worked on during the show?

    Oh god TV work is strange. I'm used to working for as long as something takes but on a TV set with a tight schedule you don't have that luxury. You have to do things a bit differently due to time constraints but you still have to make sure things are done to high standard. You certainly don't have the time to agonize over every detail like I normally would. You kind of forget you're being filmed after a while. I do remember on the last day I was rushing to finish as they were literally packing up and closing the set as it was the end of the show and they had to be out of the studio that night. That felt a bit stressful and of course everything was going wrong.

    The National Upholstery Association aims to increase the health of the upholstery trade. From your perspective, what are some of the current challenges or opportunities facing the industry? How can organizations like the NUA address these?

    Years ago, upholstery was a highly respected and valued trade but sadly that isn't the case anymore. Quick fix tv shows making things look like they take a fraction of the time they do, people stapling on some fabric to make something look good on an Instagram post and churned out cheap factory furniture have made people think what we do is both simple, low skilled and quick - it is none of these. I think we need to get out there and show people what we really do, to show the real skill and craftsmanship behind upholstery. On the plus side it's a perfect time for that. Craft fairs and farmers markets are hugely popular. People are wanting to learn more about what they eat, drink and put in their homes. They want to learn about artisan crafts and to see how things are created and to sometimes give it a go too. This will then in turn lead to more people wanting to seek out good ones when they have something they want upholstered and some will want to learn to become upholsterers themselves. People need to know that it's a career option, most people don't. So, for me I think it's about spreading the word, upholding high standards for your members and making sure there's good training available for those learning.

    Upholstery is a highly skilled craft that requires continuous learning and improvement. How do you stay updated with the latest techniques and trends in the field? Do you have any favorite resources or educational opportunities that you can recommend to other upholsterers?

    Well pretty much the only people I follow on Instagram are upholsterers! I like to see photos of things and then work out how they did it. Sometimes you see something done a little differently and you want to try it out. The English way of upholstery is a bit different from the French and then Swedish is a bit different from them and so on and so forth, every country will have a slight variation on things but the main basis is the same. I was taught how to do things a certain way and then I've picked up a few things from other upholstery teachers I've worked with over the years and the odd advanced course I've been on but some of what I do are things that I came up with myself because to me they make sense and work. I think every craftsman is a bit like that. So, you never stop learning and wanting to try new things.  Armand Verdier is one to follow and he does some training courses on traditional French stitching techniques and Gareth Rees from the British School of Upholstery is another one... 

  • June 09, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    The former and first president of the National Upholstery Association takes yet another big leap within the big picture of the upholstery trade.

    By Monica Rhodes of Monday Wash Furniture

    A few months ago, in February of 2023, Rachel Fletcher loaded herself, 2 dogs, a cat, and her collection of a dozen or so succulents into her SUV and drove cross-country, for days, from Knoxville, Tennessee to Oakland, CA. Upon her arrival, she stepped out to California sunshine and a brand new chapter in the beyond impressive story of her career in the upholstery trade. The animals were troopers and weathered the trip well as Rachel ushered them (sometimes surreptitiously) in and out of hotel rooms. The plants, wrapped snug in a blanket in the front seat of the truck, received words of encouragement to hang on through cold nights with the promise of a warm California window seat on the other end of the journey. That journey was not without challenges, including long lonely stretches of road, inclement weather and a few “absolutely disgusting” hotel rooms.

    Was it worth it?

    “Hell, yeah!”

    On the Road

    “I’m happy!” Rachel says laughing. “I spoke to my grandma the other day, and she was worried about me, but I could honestly say, ‘I’m happy, Grandma! I’m happy where I’m living, I’m happy about my job, my pets are here, my plants are happy, I’m just dang happy.’” Rachel is beaming – and she is radiant.

    Rachel Fletcher’s new life centers around her position as Director of Operations for Kay Chesterfield in Oakland, CA, a century old upholstery shop purchased and transformed by environmental visionary Kriss Kokoefer. Kokoefer assumed the helm of Kay Chesterfield in 2012 and, in the years since, has developed the small shop into a still expanding environmentally focused B-corp company now occupying a 10,000 foot facility and employing 16 people. Kris Kokoefer’s ultimate mission, through Kay Chesterfield, is to reduce office furniture in landfills. According to the company website, Kay Chesterfield “brings beautiful and sustainable re-use to the contract interiors world” and is “working toward a healthier environment, stronger communities and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose. We are a Woman-Owned and led business and a member of several global and national sustainability initiatives. Kay Chesterfield believes in refurbishing existing office furniture and breaking the cycle of furniture going to landfills. We are known for our caring culture, professional project management and high-quality artistry."   -https://www.kaychesterfield.com

    Almost Moved In

    Rachel describes the hiring process as amazing. She took part in several interviews culminating in a visit to California to meet the staff in person. Upon receiving the formal offer, “I was like, absolutely!” says Rachel. “It was such a great opportunity that it would just be dumb not to do it.” The offer did not come completely out of the blue. Kriss and Rachel have known each other for some time, having met as board members of the National Upholstery Association (NUA) at the time of its inception four years ago. They value each other’s opinions. When Rachel was weighing the pros and cons of a career move from Knoxville to Nashville, Tennessee, she turned to Kriss for advice. During that conversation, Kriss mentioned, in passing, that Rachel was on the short list of people that Kokoefer was considering to manage operations at Kay Chesterfield. Fletcher was intrigued, but did not think too deeply about it as she was weighing the pros and cons of a move to Nashville. Then…Kriss came knocking a couple of months later. And that was that.

    “I am super grateful for Knoxville taking a chance on me. Without that, I wouldn’t be here.” Says Rachel, who is originally from St. Louis, but considers Knoxville a home town after living and working there for about 16 years. “I’m so very grateful for the support I received from the people there.” Rachel does not take leaving that support network lightly, but there has not been a moment she has regretted - or even questioned - her decision due, in part, to the fact that she has been welcomed into her new life with such open arms. When I ask Rachel what she enjoys most about her new job, she says, “This may sound cheesy, but it’s the support from Kriss, and from the other employees on the leadership team. It’s been a great place to land.”

    It is no small thing to mount a learning curve of this magnitude. Kay Chesterfield is not a typical upholstery shop given the multiple facets of Kriss Kokoefer’s mission to protect and better the environment on a large scale. This involves active stewardship, advocacy with a focus on keeping current furniture out of landfill, and decreasing the demand for new furniture that is likely destined to end up there as well. The prongs of the business involve reupholstery, furniture cleaning and maintenance programs for large companies, networking and educating designers and business owners, and more. All of this seems very complex from the outside. Fletcher acknowledges that it feels that way from the inside, too.

    Rachel at Home

    Rachel is in the process of onboarding and learning the many different aspects of the company as well as her place within it. As Director of Operations at Kay Chesterfield, Rachel does not do hands-on upholstery as she had for over 12 years as a solo shop owner. “One of the leadership team members described (my new job) best,” says Rachel. “He said that I am kind of ‘the air traffic control person’, and that made complete sense. Kriss is the visionary and she does the cool stuff, making connections and coming up with ideas. My job is to listen to those ideas, kind of whittle them down, and integrate them, as much as possible. I’m learning a whole business, its people, and its culture and I want to learn it all now, but it’s going to take some time. I’m learning something new every day, every hour,” Rachel muses. “It’s different because, beforehand, you’re learning something new on a piece of upholstery, right? You know, like, oh – this is how they did it… But now, I’m learning all about this business. An email comes in and I’m (wondering) what is this all about? What does this mean? So then, I have to go exploring.” This process is daunting, but Rachel receives constant reassurance from the leadership that this is OK. It’s OK to get oriented and to learn the ropes because it’s not about what she knows today, but about what she can do for the company over the long run using her innate gifts and applying her unique experiences and perspective.

    Rachel Fletcher’s perspective is uniquely broad and deep. The state of the trade is exquisitely important to her, and she has influenced it on many levels and in many different capacities. For years, Rachel has been a particularly prominent figure in the US upholstery trade – as a founding member of the National Upholstery Association as well as its first president, as a gifted upholsterer and owner of her own shop, and as a high-profile social media presence bringing attention to the art, science, evolution, and business side of the industry.

    When asked how this most recent step plays into her vision for the trade, Rachel says, “It’s all about bridging the gaps. That’s what I’m excited about. I came from a one-person workroom. Now I’m in a 10,000-foot workroom with a bunch of employees. Bridging that disconnect between those two worlds is what I want to do with the NUA. I know that there are things that the big shops can learn from the small shops, and vice versa. I’d like to bring those two together somehow. I’m not sure how, yet, but I think that would be beneficial to everyone in the trade. As I’m learning more and more here, things just keep formulating in my head. How I’d like to use this position to bring the trade up.” Of critical importance to Rachel: “I want upholsterers to get recognition for what they’re doing. And I want them to be PAID WELL.”

    Kay Chesterfield

    Undoubtedly, this is part of the attraction Kay Chesterfield holds for Fletcher. “What’s unique about Kay Chesterfield is that Kriss offers health insurance, and paid time off. You cannot often find those in the upholstery trade, especially if you are doing it on your own, you know? There are some really nice benefits to working here.” Positive treatment of employees is one of the core tenets of B-corp philosophy. Running a successful business is impressive in and of itself – but to do it with that level of care and responsibility toward your employees, and the workplace environment, and the greater global environment - that’s something more.

    “There’s some really cool stuff on the horizon!” Rachel teases. She is currently leveraging her considerable connections toward that end. “I can say that I have been recruiting people that I know, because I want to get them involved. I’ve got resumes on my desk. There’s some really cool movement coming up. It’s going to be good for the trade as a whole and I’m excited!”

    I lean in eager to hear more, but Rachel demurs. “I’ll leave that announcement to Kriss,” she says with that signature Rachel Fletcher gleam in her eye. So, stay tuned, dear reader, this story is

    to be continued…

    In the meantime, if you, or someone you know, is looking for employment related to the upholstery trade, Rachel asks that you get in touch at: rachel.fletcher@kaychesterfield.com

    Links:

    https://www.kaychesterfield.com

    https://www.linkedin.com/in/rachellfletcher/

    https://www.instagram.com/formerlyknownasknoxupholstery/

    https://www.nationalupholsteryassociation.org

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