(West Seattle Fabric Company’s Monica Skov and daughter, outside WSFC’s future sewing-studio site)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
After less than two years in business, West Seattle Fabric Company proprietor Monica Skov has learned what might be the most important lesson an entrepreneur can learn.
Listen to your customers. And respond.
Hers have been asking for things that just wouldn’t fit into her cozy retail space at 2210 California SW in the Admiral District – an area for open sewing (your machine or theirs), for parties, for quilting.
Now, she’s found a place where that can all happen, a second site that will become the West Seattle Fabric Company “Creative Sewing Studio” (working title, so that might change). The space is at 5910 California SW, in the former Emerald Spiral space in the California/Juneau business node (directly across from Pan Africa Grill).
We talked with Monica there this morning, just as remodeling work was about to begin:
No, the studio will not replace the retail store in Admiral, Monica stresses. This will be an additional location, but no retail – though one side benefit will be that it’ll facilitate even more room for merchandise at the store.
She says the studio idea really took wing as she wrote the grant proposal for the “Mission Small Business” competition. Though the winners haven’t been announced yet, so she has no idea if WSFC will get one of the grants, she realized it was something she really needed to do.
Then, she saw the space, which has been vacant a few months. She and her husband and their 4 1/2-year-old daughter – who patiently worked on art projects during our interview – live in south West Seattle, so she kept driving by, and then started trying to contact the landlord. It all worked out.
Now, it’s time to transform the vacant space into the studio, starting with some paint – replacing the current yellow with a “light steel blue” like the retail store, Monica says – and lighting, as well as wood flooring (carpeting doesn’t work so well if you are working with needles, for example). The tiny restroom also will need a remodel. “It’ll be fabulous,” Monica promises with a smile.
The front three-fourths of the space will be set up for open sewing, classes, and events, with at least six sewing machines as well as other features like cutting stations. Monica’s thinking the open-sewing hours will likely be Tuesday-Sunday afternoons, noon to 4 or 5 pm – but, as with everything else, she’ll listen to their customers, and see what works for them. It’ll probably be on a punch card or membership basis. Private lessons will still be handled at the Admiral store.
The studio location also has a large, high-ceilinged back area that (hello, neighborhood historians?) appears to have possibly been a garage, with two bricked-over areas resembling bay doors.
This will not only provide storage for Monica’s business but also maybe someday a space for a long-arm quilting machine – right now just a dream, though quilting will be part of the studio plan from the start, likely with a monthly quilt-in.
She also hopes extra space means reaching a wider demographic range with classes and events, even preschoolers, to instill the love of sewing at an early age, so it doesn’t become a lost art.
And the location not only gives WSFC a presence in one of West Seattle’s southern business districts, it also facilitates more collaboration with nearby Seattle Yarn.
“The sky’s the limit on what we can do,” Monica believes, as she embarks on preparatory tasks from painting to planning packages for those future parties and events.
We’ll check in along the way as the space is transformed; she is hoping they will be able to open the studio in October.