Let's face it: getting custom upholstery can be daunting. It's often expensive, can take months to complete, and the process is riddled with terminology so complicated that even professional designers have trouble with it. Seriously: While working at Homepolish after switching gears from the fashion industry, Ella Hall quickly learned this after she offered up her sewing skills to her designer friends to rousing popularity. "I learned that the designers kept coming to me because in the upholstery industry there's so much language; one person might call it piping or cording or welting," Hall tells CQ. "And since there’s such an overwhelming vocabulary, designers feel like they should know that even though they don’t."
So, Ella had an idea: "The problem with the industry is the process," she explains. "How do I change the process of getting something custom made? How do I make it less scary, how do I make it more inviting, how do I make it more transparent?"
Enter Stitchroom, the new made-to-order upholstery site that Ella launched with tech help from her friend Thomas Chen. The site offers a slew of pillow, cushion, and pouf offerings that customers (both consumers and professional designers) can fully customize.
The process is shockingly simple: Once you make a profile, you select the item of your choice, input info like size and fabric, and you'll get a quote for cost, timing, and required fabric back within 24 hours, after which you can decline the project or accept—and expect to see it shipped to you in about two weeks. Have something more complicated? Stichroom is open to that, too—just contact them to inquire.
Of course, the company's vision is all about accessibility, so an easy-to-navigate site makes the entire process super user-friendly. "I just wanted to make sure we were talking about the same thing," Ella explains. "So on the site, we have descriptions for everything and images." She and her team are currently at work on expanding visuals as well as adding editorial content to educate customers about fabric selection and upholstery styles.
The company is also curating its own fabric section (they'll have 30 options soon, mostly neutrals), but they do most of their business in COM—industry speak for "customer's own material." If you're feeling lost on where to find one, Stitchroom's staff will make suggestions.
For those feeling the fatigue of incessant ecommerce options, Stitchroom offers an easy way to add something truly unique (and meaningful) to your home. "If it’s your own and there’s a special aspect to it, then you have a story behind that, and that’s way more meaningful than purchasing something just from retail," Ella muses.
Plus, she sees it as a way of bringing an old-school business into the digital era. "I've been interviewing a ton of upholsterers, and their kids don’t want to do it," Ella explains. "I've spoken to some of those younger people who used to help their parents and they’ve completely gotten out of the industry. So who is going to keep the business going?"
With the right attitude, Ella hopes Stitchroom can fill this void. "I thought, okay, if we can make sewing kind of cool again, and we can make this process easy and make the work custom and the thoughts behind it less scary, then I think we can start to convert people back to creating custom things."
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