This week I had the opportunity to attend the Custom Workroom Conference in Concord, NC. One of the biggest challenges you can face as a new workroom in this field is training and support. There was a time when workrooms did not necessarily want to share tips and tricks in fear that they would be giving away trade secrets and eventually business. However, this is changing. There are more opportunities than ever to share, learn, mentor and network. I’m sure we can thank social media and technology for this. This conference covered all the bases.
Workrooms come in all shapes and sizes. Some are a one person operation which supports retail while others have several people working for a workroom that supports designers or “to the trade”. Some work out of a designated space in their homes, like me, while others have a rented space. Whatever the scenario, when the workforce of some of these one-person workrooms age out and retire, who is replacing them? Why people like me, empty nesters, stay-at-home moms and those of us who have a passion to be creative, love to sew and still want to learn and do something that provides a value to someone else. At the Custom Workroom Conference that I attended this week, however, I also met a couple of really awesome young adults in their twentys that had decided to follow their passion right off the bat, starting with the education and networking. The future is looking bright!
But even with this passion, there is always something new to learn, new techniques, industry standards, new trends and new products. I started out by buying books on the subjects I was interested in, watched You Tubes videos on specific techniques and processes, and purchased online classes offered by experts in the field. The Workroom Tech in Tryon, NC as well as other workshops around the country offer in-person, hands-on classes on a wide variety of topics. There are opportunities out there, you just have to dig, search, ask and dive in!
The Custom Workroom Conference, an annual three-day event is filled with classes that cover anything from productivity, work/life balance, upholstery topics, slipcovers, social media, window treatments, machine and workroom set-up topics. They offered an Exhibitor Marketplace to meet vendors that provide products we need for our business , demonstrations of techniques, inspirational speakers and lots of opportunities to meet and collaborate with other people doing the same thing.
When I first started out three years ago, I wasn’t sure where my business would go but I decided pretty quickly to treat it as a business and not a hobby. I researched and sought out other slipcover makers online and connected to a Facebook Slipcover group. Working as a one-person workroom can be isolating but professional conferences such as these, and these Facebook group connections can be so helpful for support, advise, education and encouragement.