Past Webinars

Webinars are recorded so NUA members can watch them again for reference or if they missed the original broadcast. 

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September 14th: "A reading and conversation with Nick Kary, author of Material: Making and the Art of Transformation"

In our present age of computer-assisted design, mass production, and machine precision, the traditional skills of the maker or craftsperson are hard to find. Yet the desire for well-made and beautiful objects from the hands (and mind) of a skilled artisan is just as present today as it ever has been. Whether the medium they work with is wood, metal, clay or something else, traditional makers are living links to the rich vein of knowledge and skills that defines our common human heritage. More than this, though, many of us harbor a deep and secret yearning to produce something – to build or shape, to imagine and create our own objects that are imbued not only with beauty and functionality, but with a story and, in essence, a spirit drawn from us.

Nick Kary understands this yearning. For nearly four decades, he has worked on commission to make fine, distinctive furniture and cabinets from wood, most of it sourced near his home, in the counties of South West England. During this time, he has been both a teacher and a student; one who is fascinated with the philosophy and practice of craft work of all kinds.

In Material, Kary takes readers along with him to visit some of the places where modern artisans are preserving, and in some cases passing on, the old craft skills. His vivid descriptions and eye for detail make this book a rich and delightful read, and the natural and cultural history he imparts along the way provides an important context for understanding our own past and the roots of our industrial society.

Nick Kary has spent a lifetime making, teaching, and writing. Over the past 35 years he has developed his skill set as a craftsman and designer of fine furniture from workshops in London, Mexico and Devon, for clients including Terence Conran, Madonna and Elton John. An associate lecturer at Plymouth University and Schumacher College, Nick also teaches furniture making from his own workshops at The Brake, the home and creative centre he established with his wife Dolly, outside Totnes, England. It is here that he can practice his passion for helping others find another way of ‘thinking through their hands’.

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August 10th: "Skilled Workforce: How Online Training Programs Could Help You Grow Your Team with NUA Educational Partner The Funky Little Chair"

We know there is a significant and growing need for skilled tradespeople as our existing workforce continues to age out, but what should modern vocational training look like?

And how do we overcome a serious lack of facilities and infrastructure to help more promising candidates successfully make the leap from hobby to career?

Cynthia Bleskachek shares a preview of The Funky Little Chair's new Basic Level Certificate and talks about the important role that online resources can play in helping to rebuild apprenticeship paths in the U.S.

There will be time after the webinar, so come with your thoughts and questions.

Cynthia Bleskachek is the creator of The Funky Little Chair in St. Paul, Minnesota. With over two decades of experience "at the bench," Cynthia is an exceptional modern upholsterer with a specific passion for modern training and education. As a respected leader in the industry, she has traveled across the country to teach, speak and provide technical/training support to both professional upholsterers and workroom owners.

In addition to overseeing curriculum development and live training in St. Paul, Cynthia has been an instructor at Workroom Tech in Tryon, North Carolina, Craftsy in Denver, Colorado, and Custom Workroom Conference. 

She has a YouTube Channel with over 30,000 subscribers and currently serves on the board for the National Upholstery Association. 


June 8th, 2021: "Valuing Your Worth: Determine the pitfalls and benefits of working with the trade" with Richelle Plett

Does working with a designer make you crazy? Join upholstery industry expert Richelle Plett as she shares her unique perspective on the subject. Her well-rounded education as a designer AND an upholsterer will assist you in reducing the complexities of current relationships and navigate new ones in the future.

Richelle Plett's's love of vintage furniture and upholstery led her to own a brick and mortar design studio with custom upholstery and window treatment workroom called Sitzen Upholstery and Design. Known for her vast selection of “roadkill” quality constructed upholstered frames that just needed a little love, the business mantra was, “Pick a frame, pick a fabric and we do the rest!” This structure allowed her to keenly understand how fabrics and upholstery wear in real life and to truly comprehend the value of upholstery construction. Today she loves working with design clients to help them “furnish forward” and enjoys teaching professional designers about upholstery construction.

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May 11th, 2021: "To Burn or Not to Burn: New Federal Flammability Law for Upholstered Furniture and What it Means for Your Company", presented by Neal Cohen Law LLC

40 years in the making, with the federal government first beginning work on this project in 1968, the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act (SOFFA) will finally go into effect June 25, 2021. Signed into law in December 2020, this law, known as the Safer Occupancy Furniture Flammability Act (SOFFA), nationalizes the 2013 version of California’s Technical Bulletin 117. Join IFAI and product safety attorney and former CPSC official Neal Cohen who will explain the federal requirements of the new law, its origins, and – importantly – best practices and what to expect from CPSC and in the marketplace.

This special event was not recorded. 

April 11, 2021: "The History of Upholstered Furniture" with Gareth Rees

During the 2020 Covid-19 lockdowns, Gareth taught a series of successful lectures on furniture history to students across the UK and just recently started another series of lectures to members of the Guild of Traditional Upholsterers, worldwide. In this webinar, Gareth presents a very condensed version of those lectures to the NUA audience here in the United States.

Gareth has a wealth of design and upholstery knowledge and his passion for sharing it is infectious. He provides a relaxed, informal yet informative learning experience.

Gareth Rees has been working as an upholsterer for 25 years. He gained his training on the shop floor, working in various workshops in England and Wales and is versed in many aspects of furniture making from cabinet work to mattress making. 

Gareth started his own company in 2004 and in this time has taken commissions and private work for high end interior design companies, bespoke furniture makers, private collectors, antique dealers, embassies and museums.

Here in the US, Gareth is the course writer and primary tutor for Upholstery Education, offering continuing education classes to upholstery professionals and aspiring individuals new to the trade. Back home in the United Kingdom, Gareth is a Director and full time instructor at the British School of Upholstered Furniture in Oxfordshire, UK where he teaches the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishers (AMUSF) Diploma program. He is also the lead tutor for the Advancements in Traditional Upholstery Diploma, run in association with the Guild of Traditional Upholsterers (GTU). 

In October 2020, Gareth was voted Chairman of the Guild of Traditional Upholsterers. In this new role, Gareth is eager to promote and celebrate the craft and trade of upholstery to a broader spectrum of people.

Although a full time educator, Gareth still takes on commissions from select clients, predominantly focusing on the decorative arts from 1840-1950. 

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March 9, 2021: "Social Media & the SaleS funnel" with Kate the Socialite

Social Media & the Sales Funnel is a no-nonsense presentation on why your marketing strategy shouldn't start and end with Instagram, and how you can set up a complete sales funnel without chasing new followers.

After this presentation, you'll understand which new actions you should take to market your business more effectively, as well as which marketing tasks you can stop doing.

Kate the Socialite runs an international marketing agency that helps custom workroom owners simplify their marketing and get real results. She is the host of The Kate Show, an Apple Top 200 podcast, and is obsessed with making marketing easier for the home industry. If you're ready to grow your upholstery business with a real (and really simple) sales funnel, go to

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February 9, 2021: "A Professional's guide to understanding leather" with Beverly McAuley & William Dowd

This unique learning experience included a virtual tour of an Italian tannery and a live stream guide through the Moore & Giles showroom featuring multiple examples of leather. 

During this webinar, you will gain a better understanding of how leather is made, clarification on industry terminology, and insight into the alternatives.

Learn about sustainability, healthy products, and inspiring new developments within the leather industry.

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January 12, 2021: "Fast Furniture and its Discontents" with Shelly Leer & Jamie Facciola

This lively discussion between an upholstery educator and a critical observer of furniture waste shone a light on this taboo topic and examined why upholsterers should be paying attention. Presented by Shelly Leer of @home_room_shop and Jamie Facciola of @furniture.cycle.

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December 11, 2020: "VIrtual Upholstery Symposium"

In lieu of a webinar, the NUA hosted a Virtual Upholstery Symposium with panelists Rachel Fletcher of Knox Upholstery, Grant Trick of Grant Trick Furnishings, Cynthia Bleskachek of The Funky Little Chair, and Bruno Paulin Lopez of Atelier de France. The moderator will be Elizabeth DeCrescenzo of Nailed it Upholstery.

This special event was not recorded. 

November 10, 2020: “Wooden Furniture Repair: Glue and Touch-ups” with Scott Bennett

How do you repair loose parts and touch up marks on wooden furniture? Scott Bennett, from the Fixing Furniture YouTube channel, will provide detailed how-to information so you can successfully make these minor repairs in your workshop.

During the webinar, Scott references the following supplemental document: 

Scott Bennett is the owner of Wooden It Be Nice - Custom Woodworking where he specializes in furniture repairs.  Scott is also the host of two YouTube channels: "Fixing Furniture" and "Home Improvement Woodworking".  On the "Fixing Furniture" channel, Scott shares his knowledge of furniture repairs to build a community and empower viewers to be successful in their own repair projects.  Scott holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from Lakehead University and lives in Brooklin, Ontario.

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October 13, 2020: “Upholstered Furniture Design” with Lewis Mabon

In the webinar, seasoned furniture designer Lewis Mabon explains how upholstery works, explores the historical development of the technology of upholstery—past to present—and examines common upholstery terms.

“Upholstered Furniture Design” is an introductory, interactive session perfect for students just beginning their upholstery education or for experienced professionals interested in learning more about designing furniture for upholstery.

To participate remotely in the hands-on activities, attendees should gather these household items prior to joining:

  • 2-foot length of yarn or tufting twine
  • Bowl, preferably a glass mixing bowl
  • Pot scrubber, a stainless-steel spiral wire (spring) type (example)

Attendees should also watch a YouTube video of the “swimming cap trick” (example) beforehand.

After the webinar, Lewis recommends checking out these additional resources from the AHFA website:

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September 8, 2020: "Pick Your Performance" with Taylor Souder of Greenhouse Fabrics

With a plethora of performance fabric options on the market, how do you determine which brand is best for you and your client?

In this webinar, Taylor breaks down these four popular performance lines so you can choose which performance fabric works best for your client:

  • Crypton Home
  • Revolution Performance Fabrics
  • InsideOut Performance Fabrics
  • Endurepel

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August 11, 2020: "Hiring Your First Employee" with Michele Williams of Scarlet Thread Consulting

Michele Williams, owner of Scarlet Thread Consulting, is a business strategist and coach serving the interior design industry including stagers and custom workrooms.

In this webinar, Michele breaks down what you need to do and know to get ready for that first hire!

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July 14, 2020: Gracious Council with Angie Avard Turner

Angie Avard Turner—attorney, creative, and owner of Gracious Counsel—addresses some of the most common legal issues people have when running a business.

In this webinar, you'll learn tips for choosing an attorney, why you should consider incorporating, how contract language can make or break your business relationships, why it's important to protect your intellectual property and web presence, and best practices for social media.

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June 9, 2020:  Publishing a book, Interview with upholstery and soft furnishings authors

We had a great discussion with four published authors. 

Authors included: 

  • Amanda Brown, Spruce: A Step-by-step guide to Upholstery & Design
  • Shelly Leer, The Little Upholstery Book and Intro to Sewing & Upholstery
  • Fred Mattson, Automotive Upholstery & Interior Restoration and Convertible Top Restoration & Installation
  • Susan Woodcock, Singer Sewing Custom Curtains, Shades, & Top Treatments and First Time Window Treatments: The Absolute Beginner's Guide
Due to a problem with Zoom, a recording of this event isn't available.  

May 12, 2020: Insurance Needs of Your Upholstery Business

This webinar gives a broad overview of various types of insurance coverage, include general liability, professional liability and workers compensation. Special highlighting will be given to specific insurance issues that relate to the field of upholstery. 

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April 14, 2020: Textile Safety, Why and How to Green your Textile Choices

If you have not had a customer ask you for fire retardant free fabric and furniture before, you will. Or chemical free, or non-toxic. Patty Grossman of Two Sisters Ecotextiles will give you the information with which to answer these questions for your customers and prospects.

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Bonus Webinar with Michele Williams: Managing your finances during a business disruption

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March 12, 2020: NUA Presents the 2020-2023 Strategic Plan

The NUA President, Rachel Fletcher, presents the current Strategic Plan. Q & A after with the Board of Directors. 

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March 10, 2020: Once Upon a Hide: Everything you’ve always wanted to know about leather but were afraid to ask

From how to help your clients select the perfect leather to calculating the number of hides that you’ll need to complete the masterpiece, the Crest Leather team will share answers to the most commonly asked questions about leather. We will test your knowledge at the end of the webinar and a few lucky listeners will win a free leather hide.

Topics covered include:

  • Leather Categories: Aniline, Semi-Aniline, Pigmented
  • Brazilian vs. European Raw Material 
  • Natural Defects 
  • What is bonded leather?
  • Questions to ask your leather supplier

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Feb 11, 2020: Understanding Performance Fabrics

Learn the essentials of unparalleled fabric performance from NUA Industry Partner, United Fabrics. United Fabrics is a wholesale distributor of fabric, faux leather, and genuine leather. They have been a proud supplier to the upholstery industry for over 70 years. United Fabrics welcomes Sunbrella to join the discussion and highlight the basics of performance fabrics, including how they’re manufactured, features and benefits of using performance fabrics in both indoor and outdoor spaces, and how these fabrics are best maintained.

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Jan 14, 2020: How to do Email Marketing with Joy and Ease

Email marketing offers an incredibly high return on your time and money when compared to other digital marketing methods. In this webinar, Kimberly Beer you will share the current strategies that are working with this powerful sales, marketing and customer service tool. You will also learn how to make your job as an email marketer easier and more joyful (yes, joyful!). Tips and tool recommendations will be provided.

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Dec 10, 2019: The Big Three -Ready for Year End

Presented by Sandy Schlafer this webinar will focus on ensuring your QuickBooks setup is correct so that you can accurately run the three most important reports -Profit & Loss, Balance Statement and Sales by Item Summary. In addition we will review what is needed in order to be ready for year end and tax season.

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Nov 12, 2019: Tools & Gadgets

Rhonda Shanahan, owner of The Whimsical Chair, shares demonstrations and answers questions on a variety of tools used in an upholstery shop, including: button press, soda blaster, foam cutters, tool sharpeners, leather stitcher, double welt gauge, magnets, and more!

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Oct 8, 2019: French Mattress Cushions 

Tracy Windley from Sew Elegant gave a tutorial on a Tufted French Mattress Cushion. She discussed fabric suitability, pattern choices, stuffing options and foam, and hand tufting to create the signature stitching. 

This video was only available for one month; it is no longer available. 

Sept 10, 2019: Website Basics

Jason Chagnon, president of Providentia Marketing, talked about the basics of having a business website, including some great marketing tips. 

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Aug 13, 2019:  Foam Selection

Randy Oelschlager, owner of Fabric Supply Inc., talked about foam. How to select the appropriate foam for the job? What does IFD and HR mean? How can foam be recycled? Best ways to cut foam? Information about indoor and outdoor foam. All things FOAM! Randy also took questions during this live webinar. 

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July 9, 2019: Meet the NUA Board of Directors

Members of the NUA Board of Directors spoke about the  NUA. Participants asked questions, gave suggestions, and got to know the group that worked so hard to get the NUA up and running. 

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