WHERE ARE YOU: I’m in Petaluma, CA. It’s about 45 minutes North of San Francisco in the Sonoma Wine Country. It’s where American Graffiti and Peggy Sue Got Maried were filmed and while it has a small town Americana vibe it’s quite sophisticated and progressive. Although I’ve only been in Petaluma 2 1/2 years I’ve been in the San Francisco Bay Area since 1995.
COMPANY NAME: Queen Puff Puff & Stitchcraft
CRAFT TOOL YOU CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT: sharp fabric scissors
FINISH THE SENTENCE: When I am not sewing purses I am…… usually cruising the web. Live Journal, Bloglines, Flickr, Facebook, Twitter…. ahhh. such a time sucker! I also love thrift shopping and vintage hunting.
Owning my own business has always been my dream. My dad started several businesses and I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. But I wanted to learn as much as I could while being paid. So I worked in a bunch of different garmento jobs like designer, merchandiser, freelance artist, sales & production assistant, etc. and absorbed as much as I could. I started making bags because they are quick, don’t need to come in different sizes and don’t take much fabric. I gave them all away as gifts and people seemed to like them and suggested I sell them. In late 2003/early 2004 I was going through a rough time between getting divorced and my dad passing away. It seemed like the time to make a change and I needed something just for me. Life is too short to work a job that doesn’t make you happy, you know? So I shared a booth at the first Fashion Co-Op in SF with Susan Beal and sold my stuff for the first time. We were crammed into a 4′ x 5″ space and it was chaotic and scary and wonderful. That first taste of success hooked me and I’ve been doing this ever since!
Tell me about the SF Seamsters.
The Seamsters are a collective of women owned businesses that is made up of me, Jennifer Pellecchia of Hambone & Jennicakes and Deborah Maciel of Chic Cosas. We all do sewing and fabric based businesses so we can go in together on fabric & supply purchases. We also share booth spaces at shows and do group advertising & promotion. So press coverage for one is press for all. It’s also nice to have other people to brainstorm and commiserate with.
It’s going really well! I have been teaching sewing classes since 2004 when I started freelance teaching at Stitch Lounge in SF and at Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics in Berkeley. But when I moved to Petaluma I realized that there weren’t any sewing studios in the entire North Bay that reached out to a younger and hipper audience. So I started StitchCraft. We have all sorts of classes from super beginning pillow & totebag classes to more advanced things like draping and patterndrafting as well as special events like Halloween costume workshops. Some of the most popular classes have been the A-Line Skirt class and the Summer Blouse class. We also sell tons of fabric and trims (new & vintage) as well as independent patterns like Titus, Betsy Ross, Oliver + S and Sublime Stitching.
People sell their goodies in different ways. Would you say most of your sales are internet based, wholesale orders or do you sell like hot cakes at craft shows?
It depends on the time of year. Wholesale tends to be busy from February to April and then summer craft shows are June/July. Then you have the next round of wholesale from August to September and now you are in the thick of holiday craft shows and website sales. I also do a bit of consignment. I pretty much pursue all sales avenues and try to have as many revenue streams as possible.
I’m sure you have been asked this as many times as I have, but where did the name Queen Puff Puff come from?
Ha! My very good friend Roxanne of Cheetah Velour fame found these vintage knitting magazines from the early 60s. All these horrid sweaters had names like the Easy Enid, Rod’s Ski and the Queen Puff Puff. The actual sweater was awful with the giant crochet puff balls hanging off of it but the model had this awesome dark beehive and winged out eyeliner and all my friends said “That’s you!” So it became my nickname, my Live Journal name and then the name of my company. Everyone calls me QPP for short.