Here’s the next installment in my ‘dream jobs’ series. Meet Nikol, owner of Sewtropolis, a sewing studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota, as she shares how she opened the doors of her very own shop! Can I get a round of applause for a single mom opening up a boutique fabric studio in the middle of an economic downturn! Now that is a dream, indeed! Also, you will sigh with delight over her further plans for world domination. Or rather, a cozy little Victorian sewing retreat** on the shores of a lake in the city. We have lots of them here in Minneapolis (lakes, not sewing retreats), and they are all beautiful, as is Nikol.
**I feel compelled to add that a goat would be a fine resident of a sewing retreat. A green alternative to a lawn mower. And perhaps a goat could do something about those enormous piles of fabric scraps that will be the inevitable by-product of a sewing studio??
[these cute pompoms are just one of the treasures at Sewtropolis]
[Snug Bug] Tell us about your business…[Sewtropolis] Sewtropolis is a sewing studio and fabric store I started in 2009.
[SB] What is is you sell?[S] I sell unique fabric and patterns that you won’t find in your ‘big box’ fabric stores.
[SB] How long have you done it?[S] I opened my doors on November 1, 20009, so I’m nearing one year.
[SB] Do you have a shop? Sell on Etsy? Something else?[A] I have a cute little space in South Minneapolis and I also sell on Etsy. I am still working on getting the full line of fabrics on the Etsy site – they tend to sell out before I get them listed!.
[can you believe how adorable this store is?]
[SB] Tell us what you did before.[S] Before I opened my store I was a paralegal for a large company in downtown Minneapolis and before that I served in the Air Force. Prior to the Air Force, I did everything from bartending to life guarding to waitressing and retail.
[SB] How did you end up in your current gig?[S] I have been sewing since I was 9 years old, and about 15 years ago I walked into the cutest little quilt store in Fairfax Virginia. I knew from that moment on that I wanted to own a quilt store when I retired. After I lost my job early in 2009 I decided it was now or never and even though the economy was/is in the doldrums, once I started on the path of opening my store all the pieces fell into place and I knew that this is what I am supposed to do.
[SB] Does your previous experience (training, career, hobby help you with your shop?[S] It’s amazing because every day I do one thing that my previous experiences prepared me for. I did retail for a while in college which I continually fall back on. I had to negotiate and write my lease agreement, which my experience as a paralegal prepared me for. Even my time in the Air Force taught me that I’m stronger than I give myself credit for. There are days when I’m completely and utterly exhausted, but I keep going because I know that those days will get fewer and fewer if I keep moving forward.
[look at all that fabric! and do I spy with my right eye
another use for giant rickrack?]
[SB] What’s a typical day in the life?[S] I am a single mom of two boys, so above all else I try to spend as much time with my boys as I can. With that said, I start my day at 6:30 and spend about ½ hour in the morning with them while they are getting ready for school. I then try to get out and take my dog, Skilos for a walk. I leave the house a little early, especially if I have some quick running around to do and am at the store by 10am. After opening up I’ll go through e-mails and package any items I sold on Etsy so that I can get those in the mail during the slow times. If it’s slow I’ll restock the fat quarter bin or make samples. As customers come in I’ll help them and usually end up chatting with them and finding out what project they are working on. I teach kids classes in the afternoon on some days which is always fun. If I have a class at night I’ll start preparing for that before 6p when either I close the store or start the class. Most nights I’m home by either 6:30 or 9:30 (depending on if I teach a class), spend a few hours with the boys before I go to bed and start it all over again the next day.
[SB] What’s your favorite part?[S] Definitely talking with and getting to know my customers. I am always amazed at how creative everyone is. I love talking to them about their various projects and often get some very good ideas and tips which I then pass on to other customers.
[SB] How do you make it work?[S]In one word: Passion! I have had passion for owning my own store for so long that if I didn’t have – I really don’t know if I would be as determined as I am to make it work. It’s not all fluff and flowers – there are some very, very hard days. It’s my passion that keeps me moving forward.
[my wish list. look at all that giant rick rack. also, the green polka dot is a KNIT!! I sense another bow-bedecked Weekender Cabana shirt brewing!]
[SB] Is this your sole support?[S] At this point there is no support from my store – I am supporting it. But I have faith that one day it will be able to support me beyond my wildest dreams.
[SB] Any advice for those who want to do what you’re doing?[S] Go for it! When I started on this path I was amazed at all the resources and help there is out there for new entrepreneurs. I firmly believe that once you set out to follow your dreams – the universe aligns to make it come true. Sewtropolis is ‘living’ proof of this. Every time I hit a road block the universe would remove it or put someone or something in my path to help me move it. So, don’t be afraid to follow your dreams – you only live once.
[SB] What’s next?[S] I would eventually LOVE to have a home on the lake in either Minneapolis or one of the suburbs where people could come and spend the day or weekend sewing. Kind of like a ‘retreat’ without all the traveling. I’m waiting for the universe to put a lovely Victorian home on one of the city lakes in my path.
[SB] Final thoughts?[S] “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in all of us. And when we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Maryanne Williamson
Please check out Nikol’s website, blog and her Etsy shop. If you’re yearning for any of the fabrics in the pictures above (hello? green polka dot knit, anyone?) I’m sure she’d be happy to set up a reserve listing for you on Etsy! And if you’re in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, you are hereby directed to stop by the shop and say hi! If the rick rack and awesome fabric aren’t enough inducement, how’s this: she is eagerly awaiting her first shipment of Colette patterns! Yay!
And watch for my next post… we have a fun, giveaway coming courtesy of Nikol!