Fabrications - Faustina
Tell us a bit about yourself and your professional background. What led you to where you are now?
I've done lots of retail jobs in my life, in lots of different capacities, and I really like the social aspect of a retail environment. I was halfway through a degree in Women's and Gender Studies in 2016 when the opportunity to purchase Fabrications came up. I was feeling a bit directionless and unsure where my degree was heading, despite the fact that I loved the subject matter. It was really a matter of all the pieces falling in to place at the right time. My business partner, who is also my mother, and I bought the store in January of 2017. She is still holding down a day job as a technical writer, and doing the IT/Finance side of the business in the evenings. She also teaches a few of our more advanced classes. She plans on working more in the store when she retires from technical writing but isn't ready to stop working.
What do you love most about living in Ottawa?
I love that Ottawa is just the right size. It's large enough to have pretty much everything you ask for in a city, and small enough to not be overwhelming and make accessing green space really easy. I also really love that it is in a city of newcomers. People come here for university, or work, or are stationed here with the military, the RCMP or as diplomats. I think that that mix of people helps Ottawa have a very broad vision of the ways in which a society can function and be inclusive and open to change. I have lived here my whole life, and I feel really fortunate to have come from two families with deep roots here.
Tell us about Hintonburg and why you choose to open a store at this location.
Hintonburg is a neighbourhood undergoing a really rapid change, and the energy here is amazing. I didn't pick this location for our business as Fabrications was already located here when Catherine and I purchased the business in 2017. But, we feel that it is the perfect place for a creative space that focuses on customer relationships as the foundation of its business. We also feel that Hintonburg is well situated to be accessible to the wide range of our customer base. A lot of our customers are young professionals and we are easily accessible to the downtown core, and to the government offices at Tunney's Pastures. We are also fairly close to the highway, making us easy to access for our customers who live outside of the city centre. And, in purely practical terms, I live in Westboro which makes my commute to work very quick and easy!
Any projects you are currently working on?
We are currently working on a really excited project that we've been actively pursuing for about 6 months, and dreaming about for about 4 years. We will be hosting our very first Fabrications Sewing Getaway weekend in November of 2018, with dates already booked for May of 2019! We'll be hosting the retreat at the Opinicon Resort and Lodge on the Rideau Canal. We'll be opening registration at the end of February. We hope that the retreat will turn into a twice-yearly event with space for 50-70 people, over a 4 day weekend each spring and fall. We hope to eventually bring in specialized teachers, and have creative workshops covering not just sewing but also other hand crafts such as calligraphy, weaving, dyeing, and maybe even floral arranging.
What does a typical day look like for you?/What do you do on your days off?
One of the things I like about my job is that every day is different. I'm at the shop three days a week and do paperwork from home two days a week. In the mornings at the shop, I take care of email and online orders. Then through the day, I take care of customers, receive orders and get them out on the shelves, and do some planning or social media if it isn't too busy. On my work from home days, I do planning, ordering, entering new inventory, correspondence, and try to plan social media posts. I've also been trying to prioritize doing a morning of my own sewing on Fridays to make sure that I"m feeding my creativity and learning new skills, or trying new patterns so that I can better serve customers looking for advice. On my days off, I take care of my family and try to keep our household somewhat clean. My husband and I have three kids ages 15 (16 in May!) to 8. We enjoy camping in the summer, and right now we're in full planning mode!
What are your future goals for the store?
Our goals are probably pretty typical and simple. We'd like to see the business grow to the point that we can both be drawing a full salary, in addition to having at least 3 full time employees. We think that there is a lot of interest in Ottawa, and Canada more broadly, for quality fabric and patterns, and in sewing as a creative hobby. We see home-sewists as a growing and under-served market in Canada, and we feel there is a big interest in sewing as a means of being more mindful and deliberate about ones wardrobe and consumption, but also as a means of self-care. It is wonderful to see the joy in someone's eyes when they realize that they made a thing with their own hands. It's rare today to have the opportunity to really slow down and connect in a tactile and immediate way to the things around you.
What is your favorite fabric/ pattern? Your favourite thing to sew?
Favourites are hard to pick because there is always something new that catches ones eye, when you are a creative person. Lately, I have been excited about some of the rayon challis and rayon poplins and tencel twill in the store. I love working with rayon and tencel because they are easy to work with, easy and comfortable to wear, and easy to care for. I'm currently making a reversible dress that is going to be great for layering in the winter and by itself in the summer. With pockets, of course!
What is your favorite part about your job?
Again, it's hard to pick a favourite part of the job, because there's always something new. But, I think that primarily, my favourite part of the job is the opportunity to be part of a community of amazing women who have come into our lives as employees. When I bought the store, I left a job that I loved and a group of colleagues and a boss whom I hold as dear friends. It was wonderful to have a that community of powerful, driven, creative women, who really helped me grow into myself as a person, and it gave me a deep belief in the power of a small group of women who are motivated to build each other up.
Who inspires you?
I have a wide circle of friends and acquaintances who are all really inspiring to me. I know lots of women who own small businesses, women who share their knowledge with others, and friends who are tremendously community minded and who will drop everything and do the simple practical things that need to be done in a time of need. My family recently went through an extremely difficult event and I didn't cook for a month. People brought us food, and meals, and snacks, and took away the dirty dishes. People came and picked my kids up off the school bus. People drove my kids around to their activities. People drove me all around city when I needed it. People called to check in on us and see how we were doing.Those people inspire me. They saw a need and filled it, because they could, without needing or wanting any recognition. That's inspiring.
Stripes or Polka dots?
Stripes. Always. Hands down. Stripes for everyone!
What was the most extensive/longest sewing project you have ever worked on and how long did it take you?
I tend to be a lazy sewist and I choose quick projects over the more complicated ones, mostly. But I've also taught myself to knit in the last couple of years, and I made a shawl last winter that took a couple of months. And I tend to start embroidery projects and then put them down for several years (decades?) before picking them up again.