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. 

  • March 25, 2020 12:46 PM | Michelle Minner (Administrator)

    written by Cynthia Bleskachek, NUA board member at large and owner of The Funky Little Chair


    In addition to current health concerns, as small businesses and solopreneurs most upholsterers are also feeling the stress of immediate job disruption and probable recession.

    To help you navigate that aspect of Covid-19, we’ve assembled some recommendations and resources:


    1. Take a beat. Before any action, take a deep breath. Have you navigated a financial setback before?  Can you have faith in your ability to do so again? Get in a good space and calm any racing thoughts before continuing.
    2. Assess the situation. Okay. NOW take stock of your finances. What are your fixed expenses? What can you reduce or delay? What revenue do you have in the pipeline? What’s your emergency cushion?  This is just an inventory - the most important thing right now is to make informed decisions, and to do that you need to be INFORMED. If you work with a financial advisor, connect with them to get their knowledgeable, objective perspective. 
    3. Review offers from the government that may  allow you to continue working. For example, the federal government and many states have extended the 2019 tax deadline



    1. Explore and test your capital access. IF you should need an infusion of cash, what are your options? The best time to think about this information is before you need it. Thoughtful consideration should be given to what you can do without borrowing, and how borrowing would later affect your business. But you’ll likely feel much better knowing where your safety nets are - and research is free. The U.S. Small Business Administration is always a good resource for discovering what’s out there, and at present they have information dedicated specifically to Covid-19. Another excellent resource is SCORE (this link takes you to the national page where you can find your closest chapter)
    2. Contact the people you regularly work with and rely on, such as your vendors and contractors. The goal is to be as flexible as you can - relationships are part of the long game. Ask for deferrals if needed. It can never hurt to ask what new options and terms might now be available. It’s in everyone’s interest right now to work together towards a positive outcome.
    3. Communicate with your customers - But don’t just send another email like all the ones you are getting. See what your clients might need and how you can fill that need if possible. Maintain the relationships you’ve worked so hard to build - continue to serve them and be part of their trusted team.
    4. Make a plan with your staff. Your employees need to know you’re monitoring the situation, so don’t disappear from their line of sight. Your plan should have an A, B and C. Making tough decisions may be necessary, so plan and share what you can in advance to keep everyone informed.
    5. Connect with your community online. In a time of social distancing we want to be careful not to fully isolate. This is not healthy for any of us. We need connections and since we are all in this together, we will recover and come out of this together. Find online gatherings that are supportive in your local and regional areas as well as across the country/world. Offer support as you can. Work diligently to not incite or increase fear and hysteria. This causes us to shut down and not be creative or to think in a way that will help recovery efforts later. 
    6. Think past the situation we are currently in. Start to create a Restart/Reboot plan. This is a plan that says how you will focus and what you will do when we are able to “turn our business back on.” What might this look like for your company? What changes do you need to make now to prepare for that?
    7. Prioritize self care in all areas. Physical, mental, spiritual and emotional. Give yourself the space you need and try to maintain healthy rhythms and habits.


    We hope this helps you to focus some of your energy during this uncertain time. Remember, as experienced problem solvers, upholsterers are well qualified to navigate the unexpected, even if we occasionally need a little help to do it! If there are ways we can assist, please reach out by emailing - and remember that these general recommendations are not meant to replace qualified guidance for your specific business.


    Thanks to Michele Williams of Scarlet Thread Consulting for assisting us in this action plan. Michele is an educator member of the NUA specializing in Profit First and business coaching for interior designers and workrooms. Watch for Michele on our 2020 webinar schedule and follow her on Facebook and Instagram



    The National Upholstery Association is proud to present various viewpoints of our members and partners within the upholstery community. Perspectives (or opinions) will vary. This Blog is made available for general information; not to provide specific business, financial, or legal advice. The Blog/Website, and resources given, should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed professional in your state.


                 Additional  links that may be of assistance:

  • March 06, 2020 1:29 PM | Nancy Sargent

    Join us on March 10th at 1pm ET for this month’s Webinar

     Once Upon A Hide: Everything You Always Wanted to know about Leather but were afraid to ask

    presented by 

    Crest Leather usa

    Lucio esposito, carla bluitt & ashley blume

    written by Nancy Sargent owner of Cobani Bleu The Art of Sitting Soft

    By the way, do you have an idea for a Webinar? Is there something you’d really like to learn? Or maybe you have something to share?

    Email the NUA at


    Did you ever wish, once upon a time, to work with leather? I sure have! It’s a little intimidating though, having never worked with it before. Leather just seems different. It’s expensive. How do you calculate what you need?  The sewing, what thread and needles do I use. Staples, ah, what if I mess up! Are you feeling the same way? 

    Take a deep breath!  Our NUA Industry Partner, Crest Leather USA is here to assuage all our concerns. Lucio Esposito, Carla Bluitt and Ashley Blume will share with us all the distinct and pleasurable attributes of working with hides.

    A native of Argentina, Lucio Esposito, grew up in the family tannery. He has extensive knowledge of both raw materials and the tanning process. Working with the flagship tannery in Italy, he provides strategic direction and vision for the company. Lucio launched Crest Leather USA in 2014. 

    Carla Bluitt is the Business Development Manager for Crest Leather. With her wealth of marketing and business acumen, she works with furniture manufacturers, workrooms and upholstery shops to ensure they are all equipped for success. Carla loves networking and educating industry partners and upholstery professionals.

    Ashley Blume is an integral member of the Crest Leather team as their Inside Sales Manager. In seeking out new upholstery partners, she is the go-to person to get your account set up, send out your swatch library and ensure it is up to date. She loves to explore innovative ways to reach customers while promoting the Crest brand. 

    This passionate and enthusiastic team is here to teach us everything we always wanted to know about leather but were afraid to ask. For instance:

    • Do you know how to calculate how much leather you need for a project? 
    • What about natural defects?
    • Why do some hides stretch?
    • Is there such a thing as performance leather?
    • What do the terms aniline, semi-aniline and pigmented mean?
    • What’s the difference between Brazilian vs. European Raw Material?
    • What is bonded leather? 
    • What should you be asking your leather supplier?

    If this isn’t enough, rumor has it that Crest will be giving away a couple of hides to webinar attendees! I mean seriously, how amazing is that!

    Are you ready to begin your once upon a time leather project? Be sure to sign up for this webinar and get ready to create a beautiful project. Adding leather to your repertoire will take your business to a whole new dimension. As an NUA Industry Partner, Crest Leather is here to support all your leather aspirations.  

    The National Upholstery Association is so grateful for the support of our industry partners, such as Crest Leather. Our industry partners encourage and support us and truly make the upholstery profession a better place to be. 

    Members, to sign up for the webinar check your email dated February 25, 2020, for the link.

    *Webinars are only available to NUA members. Not a member yet? Sign up here.

    We look forward to seeing you at the webinar and don’t forget to bring all your leather questions!

  • February 24, 2020 11:11 PM | Michelle Minner (Administrator)

    A Bold Vision for the Future of Upholstery is Here 


    Ashburn, VA, February 24, 2020-The National Upholstery Association (NUA) will present its first strategic plan on March 12, 2020 at 1:00 pm EST in a webinar hosted by NUA President, Rachel Fletcher. Ready to grow the American upholstery labor market, the plan lays out a roadmap to rebuild a skills training infrastructure. The NUA looks to form strong partnerships and collaborations within and beyond the industry to realize this growth. Emboldening the trade as a positive force for people and the planet completes the plan’s vision. This event is free and open to all. A live Q&A session will be available to attendees. 

    “With the NUA as a platform and the strong support we’ve received from the industry, we are ready to rebuild all that has been lost,” Fletcher said. “It is going to take some time, but we see a very bright future ahead.”  

    The 2020-2023 NUA Strategic Plan provides a high-level snapshot of the NUA organization, as well as an in-depth look at the seven areas targeted for growth, which are the heart of the strategy. Topics range from building a resource of performance standards for the industry, to supporting national and regional networking events, to aligning with sustainability initiatives at scale. The plan will be of interest to upholstery professionals and students, educators, industry partners and champions, and other stakeholders who support growing a thriving domestic upholstery industry that supports artists, entrepreneurs, green jobs, material reuse, and small businesses. 

    Founded in mid-2019 to inspire a rebirth of the upholstery profession, the NUA is already over 180 members strong. The NUA’s mission is to work together with the greater upholstery community to support and advance the field of professional upholstery. Membership is open to all categories of the upholstery craft: professionals, students, educators, and suppliers.

    Contact: Michelle Minner, NUA Public Relations,

    Related links:

    Register for the Webinar Here

    2020-2023 NUA Strategic Plan

  • February 20, 2020 1:49 PM | Nancy Sargent

    written by Nancy Sargent, NUA volunteer and owner of Cobani Bleu The Art of Sitting Soft


    This month we spotlight NUA members John and JoAnn Greco of J&J Custom Designs and their unique upholstery program for at-risk youth. 

    Designing An Upholstery Program For At-Risk Youth

    Three years ago, John and JoAnn Greco delivered a birthday cake to Safe Harbor Academy, on behalf of her women’s circle at church. They had no idea how this delivery would impact their lives, but the first clue was being met at the door by a golden doodle. Their love runs deep for their two golden retrievers, Bella and Zoe but not so much for the volume of shedding that comes with owning two goldens. They have often said, maybe the next dog will be a doodle. Now being greeted by a golden doodle seemed to be a sign for sure.

    The Grecos live a good life in Jacksonville, FL. Wanting a way to give back for their blessed life, they had been searching for just the right opportunity to help others. A must for this venture was something they could do together.

    In addition to meeting a golden doodle, John and JoAnn also met Robbie and Doug Smith, ordained pastors, who run Safe Harbor Academy. Thirty-six years ago, Robbie and Doug were also living a good life. In fact, Doug had just sold a successful business and he and Robbie were about to embark on a round the world voyage in their yacht. Before they could set sail, a friend who was a judge, stepped in and asked them to take a couple of boys for the weekend, so these boys wouldn’t have to go to a juvenile detention facility.

    This was this start of a new life for Robbie and Doug.  It was also the start of Safe Harbor Academy, a non-profit, maritime-based boarding school for at-risk boys aged 14-17. Utilizing maritime principles as well as a disciplined structure, the boys live on donated boats within the Safe Harbor marina. In addition to continuing their high school education, (the Academy is an accredited school), the boys are responsible for much of the maintenance of their own boat. They not only learn seamanship and maritime skills, but also welding, mechanics and wood working skills. They cook their own meals and are responsible for the upkeep of the marina property. The boats are all donated and can be in pretty rough shape. As they fix up the boat they live in, they learn many skills.

    Here is where John and JoAnn enter the story. Upon meeting Robbie and Doug, touring the facility and hearing the history of Safe Harbor, they knew they had found something special. A place they could make a difference. On the tour John and JoAnn were shown a dilapidated trailer that had once housed the marine upholstery shop. Their first task was to rehabilitate the trailer and get the upholstery program going again. As with most of the assets of Safe Harbor, all the equipment was donated and may not have been in the best shape. Having sat idle in the salty Florida air, the machines were rusty, crusty and old. John and JoAnn took a leap of faith and plunged into this project. They knew it is the right place to put their talent and efforts even though they had limited upholstery experience.

    JoAnn is an experienced and passionate sewer. Her accounting background lends itself well to details. John, with a career in the IT industry is more visionary. At one time John and JoAnn were certified foster parents. Although foster parenting never worked out for them, the intense training they went through for the certification has played very well with their current work at Safe Harbor. Together they make a great team. Upholstery was very much a skill and trade they wanted to undertake. JoAnn, with the help of a friend, had upholstered a chair and was bitten by the upholstery bug. When they walked into Safe Harbor that day 3 years ago, everything just fell into place.

    They found Kim’s Upholstery and began following her online classes. They supplemented online education with as many hands-on classes as possible including those from Kim and Cynthia Bleskachek of The Funky Little Chair. They network with both upholstery and marine industry partners. This past summer they built a workroom addition to their home and have invested in the right tools. As they grow the upholstery program at Safe Harbor, they are also building their own business, J&J Custom Designs specializing in both residential and marine upholstery.

    When JoAnn began to formulate a program, she knew to start at the most basic step. Every student starts with learning to thread a needle and sew a button. When boys come into the upholstery program, they are given the privilege of first working on projects for their own boat, projects in which they take immense pride. As is a common occurrence in upholstery, every project is different and nothing is more true than the upholstery program at Safe Harbor. Attendance in upholstery class fluctuates for many reasons, often without notice. John and JoAnn see this as an opportunity to work with the boys on a one-to-one basis, putting that foster parent training to good use. Knowing how to listen goes a long way in developing trust, something that these boys are not accustomed to. So much so that John and JoAnn are considered an integral part of the Safe Harbor staff.

    An early first need was to see if any of the sewing machines could be resuscitated. Through a fabric store in Fernandina Beach, JoAnn connected with a retired gentleman named Tony Baker. His wife, a quilter, loves Singer Featherweight sewing machines. So Tony mastered how to keep them running. With these skills he was able to get a few of the Safe Harbor machines working. Now mind you, some of these donated machines pre-dated World War I, verified by the fact that they had no reverse. This collection of machines includes several Singers and TacSews, one just for making sails, a Thompson mini walking foot. All have clutch motors and are noisy beasts. They have also pretty much lived beyond their life expectancy, maybe even several times over. Safe Harbor is very much in need of a new machine or maybe one that is not pushing the century mark. One plan for a new sewing machine is to auction off a pair of newly upholstered chairs done in the theme of the Jacksonville Jaguars Football team. It’s hopeful that money generated from the sale of these two chairs could get that new sewing machine.

    In addition to working on their own boats, the boys work on many other projects throughout Safe Harbor. One particular area of pride is the Grand Salon located in a donated 121’ power yacht. This yacht is often used for fundraising efforts and the boys’ work takes center stage offering the public a view to the boys’ skills and workmanship.  Another recent project was recovering all the seats in their classroom with marine vinyl donated by Fabric Supply Inc. in Minneapolis, MN, an NUA Industry Partner. (Thank you FSI for your generous donation!) The Greco’s industry connections and resourcefulness is key for meeting the needs of the program. In addition to Fabric Supply Inc., Stratta Glass and O’Sea have both donated glass, the plastic fabric that is used for windows in marine applications. The Grecos have also contributed hand tools for which there is a continual need, as the salty air corrodes the metal after just a few years. There is no budget for foam or Dacron or any supplies really. Cushion inserts are reused after cleaning and a good drying in the hot Florida sun. Besides a sewing machine, good lighting is a high priority. Having no budget for supplies forces the students to be resourceful with what they have, and in the end they are very proud of their work.

    Many of the boys in the Safe Harbor program are diagnosed with ADHD. They are not allowed any drugs for managing their condition. Instead the boys are kept busy with classwork, and learning how to live a marine based life. There is no screen time at Safe Harbor. For fun they race sailboats. They study hard and work hard. Life at Safe Harbor is strict and disciplined, but also full of fresh air, time at sea and a nurturing environment. The boys are encouraged to follow their passions. One young man wants to be a chef, so he was able to take on an apprenticeship at a local restaurant. For another young man, upon leaving Safe Harbor told Miss JoAnn, ‘When I get home, I’m going to get my grandma’s sewing machine out and keep doing this.‘ There is interest by several students to pursue upholstery as a career. Having the opportunity to positively impact the lives of these young men and maybe fostering the next generation of upholsterers is the reason why John and Joann are so passionate and dedicated to this program.

    What’s next for the program? John and JoAnn would love to work towards creating a certificate program possibly in conjunction with the Marine Fabricators Association. A program that could establish some standards, so that when the program is completed, a student has not only a certificate of his accomplishments but also a certification of his upholstery skills that may be useful in obtaining work or an apprenticeship upon leaving Safe Harbor.

    Safe Harbor has a 90% success rate, meaning that upon completing the program, a young man leaves with his high school diploma and a plan. A plan for the next phase of his life, which might include joining the military or getting a job. Graduation is a time to celebrate, and John and JoAnn celebrate every one of these young men, even those that don’t come into the upholstery program, because they are all family. You know the family that sometimes makes you want to ring their neck, but you probably just hug them instead.

    If you are interested in learning more about Safe Harbor, their website has a good history of the program. You could watch the Safe Harbor movie produced by Hallmark, released in 2009, starring Treat Williams and Nancy Travis, which tells the story of Safe Harbor’s early days. (It’s streaming on Amazon Prime.) Or contact John and JoAnn, they’d love to tell you all about their program.

  • February 07, 2020 1:24 PM | Nancy Sargent

    Join us on February 11th at 1pm ET for this month’s Webinar

     Understanding Performance Fabrics

    Lindsey Josepayt, United Fabrics
    & Marcia Blake, Sunbrella

    written by Nancy Sargent owner of Cobani Bleu The Art of Sitting Soft

    By the way, do you have an idea for a Webinar? Is there something you’d really like to learn? Or maybe you have something to share?

    Email the NUA at


    It seems that every client I talk to these days wants an indestructible cleanable fabric! You know, a fabric that can withstand everyday life, whether that is life with a toddler or a Super Bowl party kind of life! I love nothing more than to provide my clients with real solutions to whatever kind of chaos hits their upholstery.

    That is why I’m so excited about this month’s webinar, Understanding Performance Fabrics, presented by United Fabrics who have partnered with Sunbrella to bring you this virtual tour of the performance fabric world. We’ll get all the deets about how this unparalleled fabric is manufactured. Why this fabric is ideal for both indoor and outdoor applications. Then for bonus points, the best maintenance practices. I love this last bit, because I always want to provide added benefit to my clients by helping them understand how to maintain their newly upholstered furniture.

    Leading us on this tour is Lindsey Josepayt, Director of Design and Marketing at United Fabrics and Marcia Blake, Merchandising Manager at Sunbrella.

    Lindsey has been with United Fabrics for over ten years. Prior to joining United Fabrics, she worked with Sunbury Textile Mills and Waverly. She earned a BFA in Textiles from Southeast Missouri State University and a Master of Science in Textile Design from Philadelphia University.

    Marcia is an ASID member and has served on the board of directors for the ColorMarketing Group and the International Casual Furniture Association. She has three accredited ASID CEU presentations on sustainable performance fabrics in the luxury and lifestyle design, mindfulness and design using color theory to create healthful lifestyle settings.

    You know that Sunbrella has been a leading innovator in performance fabrics for over 60 years. Although Sunbrella is perfect for any outdoor setting, its not just an outdoor fabric. There are so many gorgeous textiles, it’s hard to believe they are also water, stain, weather, mold & mildew resistant, easy to clean and abrasion resistant! Whew! That’s a lot, but that’s not all… they are also soft and comfortable! Perfect for any home inside or out, but also used in marine, hospitality, healthcare and commercial applications.

    What’s not to love about these gorgeous AND hardworking textiles. How about this?

    United Fabrics is providing a coupon code.

    Who doesn’t love a good discount? Be sure to tune into the webinar for the coupon code and details.

    The National Upholstery Association is so appreciative of the support United Fabrics provides to the upholstery community. Thanks United Fabrics!

    Members, to sign up for the webinar check your email dated January 28, 2020, for the link.

    *Webinars are only available to NUA members. Not a member yet? Sign up here.

    We look forward to seeing you at the webinar and don’t forget to bring all your performance fabrics questions!

  • January 29, 2020 6:12 PM | Michelle Minner (Administrator)

    It's very common as an upholsterer to hear from our clients that there is something very strange going on inside their furniture.   Even upholsterers that have been working in the field for years stumble onto something they haven't seen before.  To help with that question we thought we'd put a reference list together to serve as a resource and help you identify just what's inside your furniture. 

    for a downloadable version click the link below.

    traditional materials reference guide.pdf

    A special thank you to Kim Buckminster of  Buckminster Upholstery for providing the photographs.

    Photographs are the property of Buckminster Upholstery.


    For another article on the topic of Traditional Upholstery Materials click here.

  • January 21, 2020 12:00 PM | Michelle Minner (Administrator)

    Written by Leslie Howard

    How often do you show a customer a traditionally upholstered antique chair as you tear it down and discover dried seaweed, moss, coir, or horsehair and get this reaction — “Eeeeeewwwww”? I get that from time to time because I specialize in antiques and vintage chairs. I don’t know exactly what they are expecting inside an heirloom antique chair, but not this!

    However, there’s no real ick factor here. These are natural, durable materials that have stood the test of time for generations! They don’t decompose; they don’t crumble and harden like foam does. They can frequently be conserved and reused! 

    These photos are from an old petite French chair; you can see that the stitched burlap, horsehair, and cotton fillings, which have been cut away from the coiled springs, have aged but are not even dirty! Someone took wonderful care of this chair while it was in use.

    I like to explain to clients about these fillings, and that I’d even like to put coir and horsehair back into their pieces When they hear about the benefits, they tend to agree. Not all upholsterers are trained in traditional methods like I have been, and many customers are satisfied with substituting pre-fabricated edge roll and a slab of foam for their formerly coir-stuffed, linen twine-stitched burlap foundation topped with muslin and curled, sanitized horsehair. Foam is cheaper, quicker, and great for many pieces, particularly mid-century and contemporary furniture. For antiques, however, traditional upholstery methods tend to be more appropriate, both for looks and how they feel.

    I find that clients are interested in these time-tested, museum approved, natural stuffings, and almost always opt for this more artisanal approach to building up their furniture, especially for a treasured family heirloom that they intend to keep and use for a long time. Even if they can’t see the result of artisanal methods underneath their fabrics, they know their piece has been lovingly restored on the inside to serve them for a few more generations!

    Photo credit: Leslie Howard

    Leslie Howard owns City Girl Arts Fine Upholstery & Vintage Furniture in
    St. Petersburg, Florida. She is a boutique upholsterer who loves to marry vintage seating pieces and bold, modern fabrics. Check out her work at

  • January 10, 2020 12:00 PM | Nancy Sargent

    Join us on January 14th at 1pm ET for this month’s Webinar

     How To Do Email marketing with joy and ease

    with kimberly beer

    written by Nancy Sargent owner of Cobani Bleu The Art of Sitting Soft

    By the way, do you have an idea for a Webinar? Is there something you’d really like to learn? Or maybe you have something to share?

    Email the NUA at


    Are you primarily marketing your business via Facebook and or Instagram? I’m willing to bet you have worked really hard to build your audience too! Are you wondering why so few of your posts actually reach your audience?

    Well it is all due to the algorithms that are set up by Facebook and Instagram. Same company, by the way! To make things even more frustrating, just when you think you have made real progress, suddenly the algorithms change. You may only know this because your ‘numbers’ drop.

    Did you know that there is a better way to market to your core audience? A system that pays off big dividends for your investment of time. A marketing strategy that Facebook and Instagram can’t mess with! It’s called Email Marketing. Maybe you’ve heard about this form of marketing. Maybe you are even using it for your business. Or maybe you are totally new to it.

    The good news is that our January Webinar is all about Email Marketing. Kimberly Beer, of Be More Business, is an award winning writer, graphic designer, photographer and an advocate for entrepreneurship and small business marketing. Kimberly is sure to pack this webinar with creative solutions and actionable steps that will get your marketing strategy in order for the New Year.

    So what is email marketing and why is it important to your business? If you rely on Facebook and Instagram for your marketing, guess what? All those hard earned likes and followers are not yours! Nope! Facebook and Instagram and their algorithms have complete control over who sees what. However, the basis of email marketing is that you build your own list of subscribers. These are people that have opted in to receiving your marketing communications.

    Hello!!! What is more amazing than having people ask you to market to them!

    Kimberly is here to teach us how to effectively market to this very group. What’s the best strategy? How you can develop an engaging plan. Kimberly will even provide tips and recommendations for the best tools.

    Finally, email marketing has one of the highest rates of return on the investment of your time. As busy entrepreneurs, we all want to invest our time wisely. If you are thinking that this must be some complicated marketing plan, then the really good news is that Kimberly is here to show us how to use this powerful tool with Ease! Just think how Joyful you will be with email marketing effectively working for you business!

    Members, to sign up for the Webinar check your email dated December 31, 2019, for the link.

    *Webinars are only available to NUA members. Not a member yet? Sign up here.

    We look forward to seeing you at the webinar and don’t forget to bring all your email marketing questions!

  • January 02, 2020 2:59 PM | Michelle Minner (Administrator)

    written by Michelle Minner, NUA board member at large and owner of Blue Roof Cabin Upholstery


    It’s that time, the beginning of another glorious year in your business.  The time to reset, organize and start fresh. Here’s a list of things to help you start the New Year off right in your upholstery business. 

    Deep Cleaning & Maintenance.

    All of the items on this list you need to do often, more than once a year but let’s get started off right, shall we? 

    First up…

    Let us start out with the obvious. All those cobwebs and staples in the corners have got to go.  Pull out all the tables, cabinets and shelving units or get behind them and sweep/vacuum. Bonus, you will most likely find all the small tools you lost this year. Mop the floor. Clean the windows.

    Empty your air tank of your air compressor and drain it.

    Oil all of your pneumatic staple guns, including the ones you rarely use.

    Oil your sewing machines and dust with canned air. Clean out the little drawer of your sewing table it no doubt has 20 random things hiding in it.

    Sharpen your scissors.

    Change the batteries in your smoke detector.

    Check on you fire extinguisher, is it still charged?

     Next up... 

    Get organized & assess your efficiency.  What have you been tripping over all year?

    Is your workshop efficient?  Ask yourself how is your current set up working for you? Do you need to change out a storage system that isn’t functioning? Now is the time to move the sewing machine to the other side of the room to gain more elbow room or better light. Is your air hose where you want it? Are you tired of dragging that long hose across the floor? Time to get that thing hung from the ceiling. Lastly, how’s your work table? Is the top surface looking embarrassingly shabby? Perhaps covering with vinyl or canvas will help it to look and function better.

    Take inventory, even if only mentally, of what supplies you have. Open up all cabinet doors, drawers and shelving. How often have you ordered something only to find you already had a box or two stuffed in the back of a shelf or cabinet?

    Organize your supplies. Store like things together, label the shelves and drawers.

    And most importantly,

    Purge. Toss out or recycle those random scraps of fabric, dacron and foam that are too small for you to be keeping. Are you saving them for dog beds you will never make? Find someone who does make them and give the stuff to them.

    Speaking of purging…

    Organize your fabric books.

    Check your vendor’s website for a list of discontinued books. Toss or donate the old books.

    Price changes happen at this time. Check Vendor websites for price increases and print the updated pricing sheets. 

    This is a good time to assess if you are happy with the fabric lines you carry. Are you satisfied with the lines you already have or do you want to add a new vendor? (see a list of NUA Vendor Members here)

    Now that we have the workroom looking spiffy lets focus on….


    Revisit your pricing. Are there certain areas or types of pieces you need to increase your prices on? Perhaps an overall increase is in order.

    Do you need to implement a new fee? A COM (customers own material) charge for instance? Maybe you want to start charging for pattern matching, since it adds hours to each job. (Two fees that I will be implementing this year.)

    Review your contract. Update any new fees or changes to your policy. Add verbiage to cover you in areas you may have found an issue with this past year.

    Next up how is your estimating process working? Think about issues that have come up that may be solved by tightening up your estimating procedures. I did this at the end of last year and I noticed a definite increase in my income per job. Things are easily forgotten when you estimate off the cuff. Take the time to establish a good form and process and use it every time.

    File all finished job paperwork. Pull outdated quotes and archive. Perhaps this would be a good time to contact these potential clients that haven’t converted and ask if they’d like an updated quote. Are they still looking for fabric? A quick note may get the project back on track for them.

    Still with me? Let’s move on to the fun stuff.

    Freshen up your Social Media


    Is it time to change your cover photo? How about that profile picture? Is it a photograph of you from ten years ago? Maybe its time to switch to something a little more current.

    Check and update your hours, phone number, email, physical address or business description.

    Review your automatic response message to direct messages. If you don’t have one setting it up is a great way to let potential clients know you got the message and when they should expect a response. You can also use it to point people to your email if that’s how you prefer to be contacted. No more lost messages. 


    Review your Instagram profile information. Does it have your correct info? Does it still reflect your brand and business goals? Is it interesting?

    How about the link to your website? Is your homepage where you want to direct people or would a specific page be better? Consider adding a landing page to your website if you have more than one product or place you’d like to direct your clients.

    Are you using hashtags? If not start using them.  Take the time to research and find the hashtags that are relevant. Type up the list and put it somewhere you can save it, like the notes on your phone or an email draft. Then each time you post you can go to that place and copy & paste them into your post. That initial effort will pay off going forward. I put this off for years until my friend Rachel said you need to do this now. Listen to her, she is smart. It will make a difference.

    By the way, now that your workroom is looking sharp it would be a great time to take photos, do a facebook live or Instagram story. Take clients on a tour of your workroom; they’d love to see where the magic happens. If not your clients, then your fellow upholsterers surely will.

    And last but not least,

    The Website

    Ask yourself, does your website reflect you and your business, has it been working for you this year? If not, seek help.  A well thought out website makes a great impression and can answer those recurring questions so you don’t have to.

    Review every page and update content as needed like pricing and contact information etc.

    Don’t forget to add those amazing photos of your recent projects to your galleries or home page to keep it fresh.

    Whew that was a lot! Hopefully this will help set you up for a successful 2020. Time to get around to all those things that keep moving to the back of the list.

    Here’s a handy Printable Checklist that you can print and use.  Don’t we all just love checking off the boxes? I left a few blank spaces in each category for you to add more.

    year end checklist for upholstery businesses.pdf

    Best Wishes and continued success to you in the New Year! Bring it 2020!


  • December 20, 2019 5:26 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    NUA - 2019 Recap (by Carla Pyle)

    In the first few months of the National Upholstery Association's existence (since July 2019), a core group of volunteers has been hard at work. Below is a brief recap of their accomplishments in 2019. Many thanks to our members for their support!

    1. Coordination, promotion and presentation of a well-attended Symposium coinciding with the Custom Workroom Conference (CWC) in North Carolina in September, titled ‘Aspire to Inspire: Take Your Skills to the Next Level’ featuring four upholstery experts from around the country. 
    2. Promotion of the National Upholstery Association with a booth at the CWC Trade Show.
    3. Kick-off of a monthly Webinar Series, featuring business development, skills training, tool tips. 
    4. Development of a marketing & branding strategy, including a website, active engagement on multiple social media platforms, logo design, and engagement with vendor affiliates.
    5. Initiation of multiple communication channels to facilitate the seamless communication between the Board, Committees and Membership.
    6. Development of organizational framework, including structure of the Board, Committees and Membership levels, and a 3-year Strategic Plan (to be published January 2020).
    7. Since the current Board is made up of largely of upholsterers who do not have previous nonprofit experience, we have sought the help of an organization called Alliance for Better Non-profits (ABN), where we've found valuable help & guidance. The Board is currently working through an assessment exercise and evaluation that will show us where we need to focus our limited resources to get this ship sailing on an even keel.

    A huge thanks to all of our 2019 volunteers who made this possible:

    • CWC Symposium Event Committee: Louise Cornick (Chair), Elizabeth DeCrescenzo, Anne Neuenschwander, David Williams, Kim Newell, Carla Pyle
    • Webinar Committee: Jill Ragan Scully (Chair), Linda Miller
    • Membership Committee: Jeanne Henzel (Chair), Audrey Lonsway, Cynthia Bleskachek, Kim Chagnon, Rhonda Shanahan, Michelle Minner
    • Public Relations Committee: Michelle Minner (Chair), Rachel Fletcher, Nancy Sargent, Leslie Howard, Rhonda Shanahan, Jamie Facciola, Linda Parker-Dugger 
    • Board of Directors (Current and past): Rachel Fletcher, Audrey Lonsway, Carla Pyle, David Williams, Joan Bonzon, Elizabeth DeCrescenzo, Cynthia Bleskachek, Kim Chagnon, Louise Cornick, Michelle Minner, Anne Neuenschwander, Kim Newell, Kriss Kokoefer

    We are an all-volunteer organization, thus far funded solely by membership dues and proceeds from special events. A big thank you goes out to ALL our members who joined in 2019. Your confidence in the potential of this community has made so much possible in just the first 6 months!

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software