Our first annual Upholstery Meetup was a huge success!!
Over the last several decades upholsterers from around the country have had few opportunities to connect and collaborate. Today through Kim’s Upholstery online community, the next generation of upholsterers will have that opportunity. Last week I held the First Annual Upholstery Meetup in High Point NC….. yes, there will be another one next year.
You chat on social media so you feel like you already know one another
High Point seemed like a great place to start for our first Upholstery Meetup. Being the largest hub of home decor I knew I could find what I was searching for. With months of planning, I was able to coordinate the event and gather a group of like-minded people together. Our upholstery group started arriving on Sunday evening. Many of us had never met face to face so this was going to be a blast. We chat on social media so we feel like you already know one another.
Monday was a day to learn all about seating frame construction for day one of our Upholstery Meetup
We gathered on Sunday evening for dinner and welcomed one another with open arms. It was great to see the bonding that was going on. Friendships that will last a lifetime were blooming around the dinner table. On Monday we were heading to our first destination, Ralph’s FrameWorks. I had spoken with Tommy Rice, President, and second-generation owner, and he was happy to speak to our group and give us a tour of his business. Tommy’s dad had started the business 58 years ago and Tommy’s sons are in the business too. As Tommy talked about the company and showed us the lay of the land we could hear the passion in his voice and see the twinkle in his eye. We asked lots of questions and he was happy to oblige us with answers.
Everyone enjoyed our 3-hour tour and really took away a great appreciation for what goes into manufacturing chair and sofa frames. We got to see EVERYTHING! Next stop was 1502 Fabrics and Leisure Fabrics (lucky for Bill I was flying home and couldn’t bring any fabrics on the plane).
Greenhouse Fabrics welcomes our Upholstery Meetup group for a tour and lunch
Day two had more fabrics in-store but this wasn’t your typically shopping spree. Today we were going to Greenhouse Fabrics which has been one of my favorite fabric vendors for 20 years now. When I first started selling fabrics to my clients, Greenhouse was the only vendor that would give me an account for a new business. When my first box of sample books arrived it was full of streamers and a welcome picture with all the sales rep’s pictures signed by each and every one of them. Talk about making you feel important.
Well, our visit to their High Point Facility was no different. Tabitha Spivey (Fabric Guru), greeted us as we arrived and told us about the company and how Greenhouse and Irvan Allen Fabrics had become one. We were immediately welcomed by other members of the Greenhouse team in the first building (Victoria, Emily, Melissa, Tiffany, and Kristen just to name a few) Tabitha also showed how painstakingly Julie Talbert, Director of Product Development, (who was out of town during our visit) works to find just the right fabrics for their clients needs. Putting the right collections together and knowing what the market is looking for is no easy task. Next, we got to see how the fabric is filed and categorized for ordering as well as the cutting and shipping area and everyone got to meet their sales reps. We were all so excited to meet these fine ladies who had helped us time and time again. My rep was on vacation but hopefully next time I will get to meet Sandy.
After a full tour of the fabric room and meeting, the sales reps Greenhouse hosted us for a fantastic lunch. From soup to nuts and a variety of cakes for dessert. I also had the opportunity and pleasure of meeting Brooke Cornetet, the great-granddaughter of Arnold Bjork (the founder of Greenhouse), and the fourth generation to continue her family’s business. And did I mention we left with awesome swag bags!!
Hey, upholstery friends Genco has a polypropylene (sagless) material!
By the end of the second day, our heads were spinning. We had learned so much from these two days and the generosity of the companies we visited. So back to the hotel we headed to rest a bit before we all regrouped for an evening of dining, cocktails and a lot more talking and laughter before we called it a night. Wednesday morning again we gathered together, how can this trip get any better I thought.
Our first stop was Glenn’s Sewing Machines just a few blocks away from the hotel. George, one of the sewing machine experts, was more than happy to talk to us about machine maintenance and troubleshooting. We asked lots of questions about feet and other accessories and he was more than happy to fill our need for knowledge. We had one more stop on our last day and like the others, it was chock full of information.
Genco Upholstery Supply, and guess what! They had Krispy Kreme donuts (I ate way too many on my visit to NC between the Hickory workshop and our upholstery meetup). Of course, that is not all. Harvey, who is Gene’s son-in-law (another family run business which Gene started 30 years ago from the back of a pickup truck) met us at the door. We had asked ahead of time if they could share information with our group about the pros and differences in cushioning types (foam, foam with dacron, foam with down, and marshall units wrapped in foam, down and cotton) and that they did. Harvey and Gene (the owner) showed us around and were happy to let us see the different supplies that some in the group were not familiar with. One product that we use daily and everyone has troubles finding is a product that my supplier calls “Sagless” which is a polypropylene material. Well, we were in luck because Genco has it and they call it Spring Tex!!
Upholstery Friends you have just hit the jackpot!! Search no more! Our group had set up accounts with Genco before our visit to make it easy to purchase products, which they did!
True Southern Hospitality and a Great First Annual #UpholsteryMeetup
I have to say that I have experienced true southern hospitality at its best. Putting this event together for my upholstery friends (family) was so rewarding. The businesses we toured all went above and beyond my wildest expectations. The pride as an entrepreneur is something you have to experience and really can’t be described. Each business we visited went above and beyond to make our group feel welcome. Their willingness to share and spend time with the group was very much appreciated by all. Thank you to all the wonderful business owners and staff for making our first annual Upholstery Meetup so wonderful!
Now… the big question is where will it be and what will we learn in 2019!!!
(I have several ideas and you are not going to want to miss out)
Stay tuned for another great #UpholsteryMeetUP next year and I hope you will join us,