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So Canadian eh? : Staci Edwards

December 15, 2012


This week we have a girl after my own heart, one who is surrounded by fabric all day! She transforms the ugly into something sensational.

Welcome....

Staci Edwards from Switch Studio



She is...

Staci, a designer by trade, recently made the switch to upholsterer extraordinaire, makes her home in Oakville, Ontario. She works her magic with a bit of fabric, sweat and nails to re-create pieces that once were destined for the dumpster. Staci has also recently launched a soft furnishing line on Etsy under the same name, Switch Studio, that features pillow and ever so funky stockings for Christmas which I featured here. She also carries several fabric lines if you are in the need for some fabric too! Can you imagine being surrounded by gorgeous fabric all day? 

I am also envious of anyone who can re-upholster furniture after trying to upholster a chair last year, my hands ached and it was quite a process. But everytime I see my chair it brings a smile on my face!

Here a some of my absolute favourite pieces of hers! If you are in the Toronto area and your furniture is needing a pick-me-up, give her a call!















           Staci, tell us a bit about your background. How did you come to be involved in the world of design? Where you always creative?

I was always creative, and always loved making interiors pretty and well organized.  Ever since I was a child I loved being crafty and creative, but never really thought of making a career out of it.  While I was in high school I actually never took an art class, as my focus was on becoming a lawyer – Ha!  Instead of doing my homework relating to law stuff, I would spend most of my time sketching and doing floor plans of what my law firm would look like, eventually it dawned on me perhaps I should change my focus!  From there I saved money and went back to school later in life for decorating and design, after 4 years of schooling, I started Staci Edwards Design Inc.

          You made a “switch” into upholstery, why did you switch gears
?
To be honest, I just followed my heart.  I loved design, but I did not love having to do what clients wanted me to do.  It’s tough starting out in the world of design, and so you end up taking on jobs that are small, with tiny budgets, and you don’t have a lot of freedom to really do what you know how to do.  I found myself turning down jobs because they were not exciting me anymore, and that lead me to change focus, again, and look for something I would truly love.  So I did some time off to do lots of soul searching, and while I was figuring things out I took an upholstery class.  Needless to say I fell in love, and I also saw a niche that I could fill, so I started taking on projects for friends and family, and it snow balled into a full-blown business that I have today. I couldn’t be happier!

          Any tips for those who would like to try their hand at upholstering a simple piece?

Wear gloves whenever you can, and have oodles of patience!  Upholstery is a wonderful process, and it really is so very exciting to see a piece go from blah to blam, but it really does take a lot of effort.  The best way to learn is to do, so just go for it, take lots of photos and notes as you go, and pause after each step to record what you learned for next time.  To keep things looking professional take your time, choose a good quality fabric {which you can purchase here at Switch}, and always center your pattern.

      Fabric choice is such an important aspect in creating a knock out piece of furniture. What are some fabrics one should avoid when upholstering a piece? What are good fabrics to use?

Always be sure to use fabric that is made for upholstery, not drapery, quilt, or crafty fabrics, as they will not be strong enough to withstand all the pulling you need to do to get things nice and tight.  Also, good quality fabrics have usually been tested for durability, so have a look at the number to determine if it suites what you’re using your piece for.  The testing is done by the fabric being rubbed over and over to see how long it lasts, and then that fabric is assigned a number.  A 15,000 to 30,000 rub count is good for light to medium use, such as an occasional chair.  30,000 to 90,000 is good for medium to heavy duty, such as a well used family room sofa, and anything over 90,000 is super heavy duty and can even be used on items for commercial use.  Also know that if you are making anything for outside or a very sunny spot inside, that the sun kills fabric, so an outdoor fabric is always a good idea.


 You run your own business, how has it been so far? Any successes? Any failures?

I absolutely love being an entrepreneur and would not change it for anything.   And yes, there have been many successes, and many failures, luckily, the good things outweigh the bad ones!  It seems like everyday something super awesome happens to make me very happy, so when the bad stuff happens I just push past it, because I know something good is just around the corner.  It’s not always a big thing, like today’s was my sweet client calling me to tell me she is a very “happy puppy” and thanking me for changing her house into a home she loves.  Of course I was tickled pink!  The bad stuff are things like messing up a cut, or bleeding on fabric, and having to pay for more fabric, or clients who are just impossible to please no matter how hard you try {in that case I ask them to please take their piece elsewhere, because we like to be happy at Switch}, and of course finding enough business to support yourself and staff is always a bit of a struggle in the beginning.  It really all works out in the end, so I try to not get too bothered, continue on my path, and do what is right our clients and my business.

      How do you maintain the balance between managing your business, social media and life?

It was a lot harder in the beginning because I thought I had to do it all, now I have realized I don’t.  People are not going to hate me if I don’t do a blog post, or a Facebook update, chances are they won’t even notice!  It’s all about prioritizing what is important and creating a work schedule around your life, not to work your life around your schedule.  For me, my health is on the top of my list, so I work out, every morning {except Sundays, a girl’s gotta rest}, enjoy a healthy breakfast and get to work for 10:00am.  I work hard throughout the day, bring a lunch to avoid leaving the shop, and always use a list system to make sure I get what I need to do completed.  Then, I try to stop working at 6:00 most nights, this gives me plenty of down time before bed to hang with the fam and unwind.  I do work for a half day on Saturdays, and always, without exception I take Sundays off.  I also have one day a week that is my “Focus Day” on this day I do not go into the shop, or set any appointments, I work hard from home.  It really helps me to focus on what needs to be done, pound out a lot of work, and not get distracted by the daily on-goings at the shop.  Lastly, doing things in batches and off peak are very important to save time.  For example, if I have to go grocery shopping I also hit the dry cleaners and drugstore too, seeing as I’m already out and about, batching saves time driving around.  Doing things off peak means I spend less time looking for parking spots and standing in lineups, seeing as less people are doing their errands at that time – No weekend Christmas shopping for me thank you very much!

       Do you do all the upholstering on your own? Do you have a studio space?

I used to do all of the upholstery and sewing on my own for about a year, and I started working in my shed.  Now I have an actual shop {although it’s not my ideal space, it is clean, bright, and climate controlled, so I’m happy}, and a fulltime project manager who handles getting all the pieces done and out the door, and some part-time contract upholsterers and sewers who help out when we’re extra busy.  I do still have an eye on what’s going on {it’s been referred to as my “eagle eye” by staff members – I am a perfectionist}, but seeing as we’ve grown so much I spend my time on other businessy stuff, like marketing, product development, dealing with clients, potential clients and suppliers, and yes, social media.
   
 Do you have any favourite pieces that you have worked on that really stand out in your mind?

My favourite piece would have to be one of my first pieces that I did when I first started.  I did it the old school way, no foam, no staple gun, no modern tricks to make things go faster – It was all done with tacks, horsehair, and the old totally-by-hand way.  It was great to learn how to do it that way, though we don’t do it that way here.  That chair is now in the corner of my bedroom, and I smile every time I see it.

     What are some of the essential must-have tools for basic upholstering?

A staple/tack remover will make stripping a piece so much easier to do, so be sure to get one if you’re going to do a piece.  Gloves are a must, stripping and upholstering are very hard on your hands.  Band-Aids are a good thing to have close by – There will be blood!  Having a mask for stripping furniture is a good idea, as it gets very dirty and dusty, you don’t want to be breathing all that gunk in. Safety glasses are also a must, staples and tacks go flying, you don’t want one in your eye.  A pneumatic staple gun will make things much faster and easier than using tacks or a regular staple gun.  And of course, good music and a cuppa tea always help to make the process a more enjoyable one!

Re-upholstering a piece is not cheap, what are some tips in deciding whether a piece is worth getting re-upholstered or not.

That’s right, reupholstering a piece is not something you turn to if you’re looking to save money.  Basically if the piece is sentimental, of very good quality, if you just want something exclusive and one of a kind, or if you are hardcore eco and want to reduce waste, then reupholster.  Here is a blog post I did that goes more in depth on what to look for:  http://blog.switchstudio.ca/2011/10/shop-like-pro.html

 Where do you hope to see your business in the future?

I guess it would depend on how far into the future – Being a creative person I’m a big dreamer, so I have lots o’ plans!  Right now I’m focused on growing Switch within the community, hiring more staff, getting a nicer shop location and we’re slowly working on rebranding which is so fun.  In the future, I’d like to have more locations in other cities, have our own furniture line, and perhaps even fabrics too.  I have always dreamed of having a retail store, I don’t know why, I’ve just been drawn to the idea, so perhaps that might happen too.  One leap at a time, right?

     Tell us something that would surprise us!

Hmm.  I guess something that may surprise people is that I don’t really love my own home.  I spend my days helping others create homes they love, but when it comes to mine, I just can’t do it.  I have a major problem with commitment, being surrounded with lots of gorgeous things all day makes it very hard to choose my favourites, so I choose nothing.  I moved in to my home after the hubs was already there, and he had some stuff, I threw some stuff in, and we bought a few new things, but that was forever ago, and styles have changed.  I’m really trying to make it a priortity, now I just have to find the time!

Thanks so much to Barbara for having me over today, it was lots of fun!  Also thanks to all you Hodge Podgers for reading, and please feel free to contact me with any questions.  Chat soon!

I had no idea that fabrics had a "rub" rating! I learned something today! Staci thanks again for all your inspiring words of wisdom. It has been a pleasure to follow your career from interior design to taking your creativity and using it in re-creating pieces for the home! Have a Happy Birthday today too!

XO Barbara

5 comments:

  1. I loved learning about Staci here and even more so, I love that she is willing to take time out to soul search and follow her dreams. A good lesson for us all. Great feature!

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  2. Oh how I wish Staci lived in this part of the country, so she could teach me a thing or two! Great interview Barb!

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  3. It was nice getting to know Staci a bit better. I love how she takes time to work out almost every day - I need to really do that in 2013. It's too important not to. Great interview!

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  4. So nice to learn a bit more about Staci. I met her a few years ago at IDS and I'm so happy that she has found her niche! I love seeing her befores and afters and wished she would open a shop in Ottawa!

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  5. Thanks again Barbara for letting me participate in your awesome series, and thanks to the ladies for commenting!

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