Oh my goodness – time flies! I can’t actually believe that January has come and gone. Wow! I have lots and lots of things to update you on and I thought, since we just finished with it, I should show you the new Fashionable Stitch Classroom. To fill you in, this is the basement section of our fabric shop. This is where I used to teach classes when it was Yellow Bird Fabrics and now that we’ve renovated it, I’ll be teaching a very light load once again.
I taught in the basement for over a year before buying out the business from the previous owner and though I thought it was perfectly adequate, I did have revisions in mind. So, when we bought the business, I decided to shut down the classroom because 1) I didn’t have time to teach classes anymore and 2) I wanted to revamp the entire downstairs.
Sadly, as per my usual, there are no before photos of the classroom, but having spent so much time on renovating it, I do have to say it was kind of…. bad. Several customers and some of my own students said as much and I had been asked many many times if we were going to move to a different building or area. One of my ladies even alluded to the fact that I charged a fairly substantial fee for my classes and hmmmm…. the area the classes were held in was, well, not as substantial. At first, I was quite taken aback, but I’ve come to realize the truth in these comments.
Now the classroom is actually quite charming. It’s still a basement, don’t get me wrong, but the changes we made and incorporated are quite wonderful. It’s more of a sewing sanctuary now and well, it actually makes me want to go over to the shop all the time and sewwwwww. Some of the changes we made? We painted the duct work, which used to be its normal metal color. We also painted the floor which was in dire need of a new paint job. D-I-R-E. There were lots of stains and such on the floor and it was rather yucky. We changed the orientation of the downstairs. The sewing machines are now out in the open whereas before they were in a stifled square-ish space with no natural light. There are now two cutting/drafting tables. One thing I noticed when I was teaching is that there was never enough cutting and drafting room. We have decent sewing machines to sew on and a couple of sergers too. Additionally, all the tools needed for cutting, drafting, sewing and such are all apart of the classroom. We painted and hung several peg boards around the place for organization (I LOVE pegboard) and we put down a few colorful rugs to warm up the place. It’s really really sweet and fun and I’m pretty sure that it will be receiving some serious love in the future. Hip Hip Hooray!
And now that the classroom is finished, its time we got back to having actual classes down there. I’ve decided that I’ll be teaching once again – a very very light load – starting in March. We’ve also got new teachers lined up! Miriam Tribe of Mad Mim will be teaching classes. Sheesh! Her classes are very exciting and I have to say that I’m so glad to have Miriam on board. She’s teaching some classes that I had been asked about and didn’t have a lot of interest in teaching, so its really nice to have some variety. Want to see what’s on the docket for February? Hop over here! Additionally, we have a few more teachers coming on board and they will be rather amazing, if I do say so myself. It makes me giddy just to think about it! yay!
It’s also very very possible, that we might start filming some of these classes (in the classroom, of course) and putting them online for purchase. Now that would be exciting, right?
If you live in Utah, you should definitely sign up for our newsletter and make a point of coming to a class. We would LOVE to have you! And if you don’t live in Utah, if you’re ever in the area, you should stop by our shop and at least see the classroom. Oh the fun we’ll have down in the little sewing sanctuary! Yay!
To everyone! Thank you for your comments on my last post about a certain comment. I’ve taken the post down because honestly, I’m not feeling good about it anymore. I think you can all relate when you’ve made mistakes and I do feel maybe, it was a mistake to address this particular comment in this way. I’m definitely human and I totally make mistakes – I’m just a regular gal, you know. Also, I know many of you are concerned about the legalities of my employee co-op situation. I’ve looked into it and its legal (in the state of Utah) and for future, I’ll refer to it as a volunteer situation as that more aptly describes how things are working at this moment in time. I’m not going to go into specifics, but all the bases are covered. Many, many have given advice to me about disclosing more than I should. Thank you for your concern. I really do appreciate it and I’ll give it some more thought as I go forward in this new venture. For now, let’s get back to the business of sewing, shall we?
I’m a contestant for Season 3 of Project Sewn. I gave a small hint back in December about it (something to the effect of I would be making a whole new wardrobe) and now we’ve got about a month to go before its here. I thought it would be fun to give you a little insight into my thoughts for this upcoming competition. All my ideas are sketched out and ready to be sewn and I’ve gotten to work on my first project and almost have it completed. I’m running just a little behind, but I think I’ll end up being just fine.
The wonderful ladies who run Project Sewn gave us all of the info that we would need by early December. Yes. They are awesome. For some crazy reason, I assumed the challenges were one week challenges meaning that you would have to complete an entire outfit in one week and that scared the living daylights out of me. Thankfully, that is not the case. They give you plenty of time to get ready and produce some really high quality material for the challenges. This is actually really really good for me. When December finally rolled around, I hadn’t touched my machine in weeks. During December, I barely touched it too, but I have come to realize that deadlines are a good thing for my sewing productivity. I’ve started making my outfits and have given myself some specific timelines for when certain things need to be accomplished. I have come to realize over the years that this really works well for me. I know deadlines don’t work for everyone, but I will say, they definitely work for me. This turned out to be quite fortuitous as it has not only challenged me but it will give me a whole new mini wardrobe in the end. So awesome.
The whole concept of me being in this competition was something I found, well, interesting. The challenges are not easy for me because I am someone who has at long last come to the realization that what I would love to sew and what I actually wear are two different things. I mean, I came to this realization a couple of years ago and have been striving only to make wearable garments since then. But the idea of being in a competition and not being able to wow anyone with everyday wardrobe items kind of killed my enthusiasm – at first. I was very much against the idea of creating anything costumey. Like at all. I chatted with my mister about it and he agreed. It was very important that I create items that I would wear again and again and reach for all the time. So I will be creating only garments that are part of my everyday uniform of sorts for this competition. I have to tell you, I’m soooooo excited for you to see everything I’ll be making. I’ll be unveiling everything in due time, even if I’m not the lucky winner (which I’m totally A.OK with, I mean this is just friendly competition and I’m very excited to be apart of it).
I’m also very excited to see what the other ladies come up with. This is what makes this contest so fun to watch. The line-up of participants is pretty great and I’m quite sure we’ll all be wowed by the makes. Sheesh! Excitement abounds folks! Hip Hip Hooray!
Have you ever participated in a sewing competition? How do deadlines work for you? And seriously, what about making items that you will wear everyday? Is it hard, or is that just me?
I thought this might be fun to start and admittedly I love reading Tasia’s posts on her burgeoning business every month. I’ve always found posts like these interesting because I really do want to know what its like to own a small business and make ends meet with it. So now that I’m adding a new perspective to the table – owning a brick and mortar fabric store – I thought you all might want to know more about what goes on and how things are run here at A Fashionable Stitch.
I like to think of our little shop as a fabric boutique because, yes it’s small. We are not a Hancock or Joann and honestly, that’s good because these chain stores do have their place and they do provide things that we really don’t have the room to provide. For instance, we don’t sell buttons currently. After a lot of thought about this too, I don’t know that we will sell buttons because buttons can take up quite a bit of room and eat up quite a bit of capital. And our shop’s physical location is right in between a Hancock and a Joann, so we have to have a different focus when it comes to what we are going to sell. We rent a location that was once a little house. The property has been commercialized and we have our own parking lot and such. The upstairs area is dedicated to the retail space while the basement is dedicated to the classroom (which we’re in the process of revamping) and the online shop storage area.
Owning a business is kind of like owning a house, especially in respect to the maintenance of the building. It’s been snowing quite a bit this December and sheesh! I have to keep on top of shoveling and having ice melt on hand so that people don’t fall and break their neck! Yup, as a business owner you have to worry about these things. Just one more hat to wear!
Keeping afloat in December
I’ve noticed this trend with my online shop as well as with a brick and mortar. Also my dad was self employed growing up too (lawyer) and it was murder! December is the worst month of the year as far as revenue goes. I would be totally lying if I didn’t say that I was a bit disheartened this past month as this was my first month as a brick and mortar shop owner and seeing the bills that need to be paid and the money that’s come in is quite tight. I think it really comes down to the idea of gifts during December. And this involves changing your entire idea about merchandising for a month or so (probably starting in November really) and you have to start thinking in terms of, “Well, if I were a spouse/significant other looking to give a gift to my sweetheart, then I need something shiny and all put together.” These are things that definitely need to be re-considered and brainstormed for next year, but I will say that we have some really exciting things planned for next year. Now, off to write them down and put in a place that will not be forgotten!
Buying fabric for a shop
Probably the number one question I receive about my online shop is, “Where do you find all these notions and supplies you have here?” Sometimes I don’t know if people really want to know or if its just a passing question, but I will say that finding suppliers/sources is hard work. Oh. My. Goodness. Part of buying a fabric store is buying the suppliers list. People do not share this information. They protect it with their lives! So I am glad to have a suppliers list to start with. I’m also growing my own list and its been interesting. I have to keep on top of the needs and wants of the shop. I want so many different options for the shop and yet, there are needs that have to be maintained like having a selection of bridal fabrics and laces (we have a lot of weddings here in Utah year round!) and things like cotton batiste and specific colors of silk shantung and dupioni all have to be in stock and ready for purchase. Then there is a growing list of wants. I want all these different types of fabrics and what’s worse is to be perfectly candid, I could care less about wedding dress fabrics! Ha! So I become torn by things that I want and things that I have to have. Sometimes its definitely about selling items that you don’t care to sell. Strange, but interesting.
Out with the old, in with the new
One of the main focuses of December for the shop has been getting rid of the merchandise that’s not selling. You have to be creative when you are up against things that don’t sell. My mother instilled in me the idea that much in life is about presentation. And to be honest, this is sooooo true. Sometimes when items aren’t presented well they don’t sell – so true in so many facets of life! I’ll give you a few examples. With the purchase of this shop came the acquisition of what seems like 5 billion really old trims and ribbons. I had worked at Yellow Bird Fabrics for over a year and had never seen these trims move. Ever. The trims aren’t necessarily bad, they are just rather project specific and as such they rarely get bought. One of the first things I did when I took over was to go through all the trims and fish out all the ones that really needed to move and hadn’t. Cut those up, put them in 3 yard bundles with a few other colors of ribbon and Voila! Instant color and cuteness by the register. And they are usable! They aren’t just junk. They can be used in clothing or as gift wrapping ribbons and trims.
We also decided to get some fabric moving too by cutting several of the bolts into remnants. One of my ladies said that she used to work at a fabric store that had a marvelous remnant rack and it’s something that we’ll be utilizing too. The majority of the remnants are at least 2 yards, so they work well to actually make something out of. No 1/2 yard or 1/4 yard remnants here!
Additionally, we had a roll of rayon that had not sold a single yard. Such a pretty rayon too – great for a dress. But it was cream colored and well, boring. I dyed the yardage (with good quality dye, mind you) into two different colorways. The end result was really cool actually as the zig-zag stitching took the dye more than the rest of the fabric. Again, just a presentation/vision thing really, but it makes a big difference in seeing the potential in something that you hadn’t considered before.
I think that’s it for December’s Behind the Scenes. Gosh, I can’t believe December is already gone! I’ll admit, this has been hard. I’ve been very much consumed by this whole entrepreneur thing (as I should be, I think) and that’s been both good and bad. I sewed but a very little bit in the last part of December and that’s something that has to change. I love sewing and I don’t want to just give it up because I’m a shop owner. So I’ve actually been sewing quite a bit in January. Almost finished with a jacket (which I started January 1st)! Yay! Priorities have to be set. If you never make time to work on the things that you enjoy, you never will. I could work on the shop all the time everyday, but its not what I want to do all the time. So setting limits and parameters is very important. I’m learning that bit by bit.
Happy New Year Everyone! I hope you’re all enjoying a day off – I know I am – and that you have time to do a little reflecting and a little looking forward. I suppose not too much of this though because if there is one thing I’ve learned over the years its that I take myself much to seriously and well, there’s an art to being able to let things go and let things happen the way they are going to happen to a certain extent. Anyhow, or anyway, here’s to the good and bad from 2013 and a cheer for the good and bad yet to come. Hip Hip Hooray!
All my best for you and yours,Sunni
Friends, thank you for your patience as I’ve been getting used to my new role as retail shop owner. I really really hope you all had a wonderful 2013 holiday (whatever holiday that might be for you), with another just around the bend. Here’s to a shiny New Year, eh?! Since posting about my recent acquisition of a physical retail shop, I thought it might be a good idea to answer several questions I’ve received about it. The thing is, I have it all figured out in my head and I just think that you do too when you would have to be a mind reader to know all the details and how its all worked out. I’m sure (so sure) this will be a work in progress. I’m actually still concerned about how the online presence of everything is going to jive with the physical presence, but we’re coming to new and exciting decisions about that too. So here we go:
Who are you?
I’m just a gal with a serious sewing obsession. It’s turned into quite the adventure because not only do I own an online shop, but now I’ve gone and purchased myself a brick and mortar shop too. Yikes!
You have a shop? Where’s it located?
I’m a Salt Lake City, Utah local, so if you’re purchasing from me online, this is where its all shipped from (this, if you’re unaware is in the U.S.). Now I also own a brick and mortar in Salt Lake City, Utah too. It’s also called A Fashionable Stitch. Here is our physical address:
A Fashionable Stitch
988 East 3300 South
Salt Lake City, Utah
(801) 466-3110 (tele)
Wait. Didn’t you buy Yellow Bird Fabrics?
Yes, yes I did. But I decided to change the name to be under my A Fashionable Stitch umbrella. We still share the same vision as Yellow Bird Fabrics just different names and owners is all.
So, what kind of fabric do you sell?
We specialize in fine apparel fabric. Wools, cottons, silks, linens and a full assortment of bridal and evening wear fabrics too. We have a full assortment of linings, notions, trims, supplies and tools too, especially for the garment sewer, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t do other types of sewing with our wares too. You can definitely quilt or piece using our fabrics and even home decorate with them too. They are beautiful for a myriad of uses.
Are you going to close your online store then?
No. The online store will be staying open because, you know, it’s important to me. I’m an online guru – a bloggy tech (nically challenged) sewing gal and I love my online customers much too much to give it up.
Are you going to sell fabric online too?
Actually, yes! Ha ha! It’s a bit of a slow process, but I’ve already gotten started with some pretty lovely wool knits, silk prints and a couple of knits with kidswear in mind (though you wouldn’t have to use them for kids per se).
What brands of independent sewing patterns do you stock? Do you sell them online?
Well, just so you know, we don’t sell any of the Big 4 patterns in store just yet. We have ideas for selling some of our favorite sewing patterns in store though, so if you’re a Salt Lake City local, definitely sign up for the local newsletter because we send out a couple of newsletters every week to keep you informed of what’s new in the physical shop. As for the independent pattern companies, we are currently selling Colette and Sewaholic and we have plans to bring in several more as well. Plus we’ve decided to start selling a few children’s patterns and fabrics too and I’ve got some Figgy’s on the way and I’m looking into a few more children’s patterns too. Then there’s the matter of this unbelievable rainbow stripe cotton velour that we just got in (which is also online, right now). I only wish I had kids so I could make them a pair of leggings or a hoodie or something out of it. To die for cute, right? At this time, I’m not selling patterns in my online shop, but in the not so distant future, this will change.
How do I contact you?
You can email me at email@example.com. If you’re interested in contacting the physical store, look for the address above and the telephone number to the retail store is (801) 466-3110.
I’ve been subscribed to your newsletter and you never send me anything? What’s the deal?
For quite some time, I’ve not known what to do about the newsletter. However, now that I have a physical shop, I’ve had a lot more practice about what I feel a newsletter should be. You should know that there are now 2 newsletter groups that I send emails to. One is dedicated to my online shop (probably the one you’re signed up for and don’t receive anything about, but you will soon) and one is dedicated to the physical store. You can sign up for the newsletters here. There’s much more on the horizon for the newsletters too. Oh the fun we’ll have!
When are you going to start teaching classes again?
Sigh…. Honestly folks, I am soooooo busy right now, I just don’t know that teaching classes is in the cards for me anymore. Plus there’s this part where I actually still want to sew stuff and that hasn’t been happening very much lately. But, I’ve got something else up my sleeve that I think will work out a little better anyway. Hold the phone though! This doesn’t mean that we aren’t going to hold classes at A Fashionable Stitch. In fact, I’m in the process of getting a few new teachers on board so that we can get some new classes going soon. Most likely February 2014.
I think that does it for now. Have any more questions? If you do, be sure to leave them in the comments and I’ll update this post with your new questions. Again, I would like to thank all of you, my dear readers, for your support and encouragement. Means so much! Not just to me, but also to my mister and my staff! If you’re ever in Utah, please don’t hesitate to stop by the physical shop location or even contact me for a meet-up to talk sewing! I’m pretty nice, I think (OK, I’m actually a serious pushover, so I’m totally nice). Here’s to all things A Fashionable Stitch! Yay!