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General Upholstery Questions and Comments => General Discussion => Topic started by: 1unique on February 03, 2014, 12:06:16 AM

Title: Introduction to forum
Post by: 1unique on February 03, 2014, 12:06:16 AM
Hello, My name is Kim and I'm the owner of Unique Stitches Upholstery in Coquille,Oregon. I've been following this website for 3 years but never signed up for the forum. Now that I have, I really appreciate every ones helpful comments. I do just about anything.( My first big job was a small Airplane.) In the 3 years I've gotten real busy and overloaded, so I closed my shop to the public and I'm not going to open til my back log is done.( I gave myself 2 weeks) Since I opened , 3 local upholsterers have moved out of the area, so I'm the "go to"girl. I didn't go to school for upholstery. I had some training from the previous owner until she moved. I rely on my digital camera for instruction.  I'm still slow because I have to"think" harder than someone who has 30 years experience. I have a question about taking on an apprentice to help, or looking into the High School for a work experience student. Good or Bad Idea?   Thank You
Title: Re: Introduction to forum
Post by: MinUph on February 03, 2014, 05:59:49 AM
Welcome aboard,
  Glad you decided to sign up. A helper is a good thing. Someone to strip, help with deliveries etc. Training an apprentice is costly but you are the best judge of your work load and it is worthwhile.
  Personally I enjoy teaching. 
  Enjoy the boards and lets see your work if possible.
Title: Re: Introduction to forum
Post by: Darren Henry on February 03, 2014, 07:54:48 AM
Welcome Kim. As much as we need to bring new people into the trade I would not bring on an "apprentice" until my shop was keeping up to demands so that I had the time and money to invest in them (and then hope they don't start working out of their garage about the time they are becoming usefull). I truely enjoy training people but it doubles the time it takes to complete a  task, at least. For now I would I look for a grunt as Paul suggested.Or some one semi-retired with experience.
Title: Re: Introduction to forum
Post by: SteveA on February 03, 2014, 08:51:11 AM
My best way to solve help issues is to tap the shoulder of a Family member and tell them " thanks for offering to help me today"
Works every time !
Usually costs at least lunch  -  not so bad considering.
Title: Re: Introduction to forum
Post by: gene on February 03, 2014, 09:00:03 AM
Welcome to the board.

I'm still slow because I have to"think" harder than someone who has 30 years experience.

I've been upholstering furniture full time for 9 1/2 years now. I can remember vividly the first time I cut the parts for a boxed cushion, sat down and sewed it together, without having to "think ahead" of how everything goes together.

Stephen Winters is another forum participant about 200 miles north of you. It's a small world out there.

I use some occasional part time help - a few hours a day when I need it. Mostly taking down old fabric, vacuuming, cutting wood for cornice boards - mostly grunt work that allows me to spend more time on the finished work.


PS: I've read a lot about the Pacific Coast trail. I started to make plans twice in my life to spend a few weeks there, but other things came up. We have a friend near Eugene who would take me and drop me off, and then hopefully remember to pick me up at the end. LOL

Title: Re: Introduction to forum
Post by: sofadoc on February 03, 2014, 10:16:03 AM
Welcome Kim

Some of the others made some good points about hiring an apprentice.

My view is........if you need one, hire one........but don't call them an "apprentice" just yet. There will be time for lofty job titles later.

Start them out as a helper. Someone to do all the grunt work. If they show an aptitude for this work, then you can think about calling them an apprentice.

But if you start them out as an apprentice, there will be different expectations from the 2 of you. 

Your "apprentice" will expect to receive formal training in a swift timely manner.

You, on the other hand will expect him/her to be satisfied to just do all the dirty work that will allow you to be more productive.

I've seen it time and again. The employee feels overworked and underappreciated. The employer feels burdened by the extra time it takes to train. At some point, you will say to yourself "In the time it took me to show him how to do it, I could've just done it myself".

The employee will be thinking "She doesn't want an apprentice......she wants a janitor".

Make sure they know where they stand. First and foremost, they are there to make your job easier, not just get free vocational training. Like Darren says, they may learn just enough to start working from their own garage.

I've had mixed results with high school kids. Frankly, the dumber they are, the better helpers they make. The smarter ones are too ambitious, and soon lose interest in pulling staples, toting couches, and sweeping floors.
Title: Re: Introduction to forum
Post by: Lo on February 03, 2014, 11:22:02 AM
Hi Kim and welcome . . .

I would say it is not a bad thing when one figures out a second set of hands is needed . . . though I agree with the suggestion of taking care in handing out titles from the git-go as once given titles are harder to take back and sometimes to fulfill.

I was lucky last year to have needed more than one 'helper' in order to meet the project requirements . . . thankfully I was able to line up family members to fill the need (husband, daughter and BIL). None of which (including the daughter) wish to be an apprentice, though they all have a better appreciation for what it takes to do the job and comment on how they now look at furniture differently with their underlying experiences. AND each of my helpers now is an adversary for spreading the word of recovering when it makes sense (great W-O-M advertising peeps).

Heck, my BIL even agreed to continue to come and go based on my business needs (well at least he was up until the cold hit and he headed to Cape Coral for a break-away). He even drives 50 min one way to my location; for some the distance may be an issue, but he lives in a smaller town and comes to my larger community for groceries and such so it was no big deal to coordinate those trips with my needs. Even better, he has no interest in becoming an upholsterer so there is no threat of him setting up shop as a competitor . . . 

Good luck to you and let us know how it works out for you.

Title: Re: Introduction to forum
Post by: 1unique on February 03, 2014, 01:39:52 PM
Thank you for your responses. I'm excited to be part of your forum. I actually "Do" have a friend who will help me when she can. She understands how to tear down,and mark things. I'm teaching her the "language" on parts to mark. My mom does mending and altering and tries to help me when she can or hears me "grunting". I think I will stick to what I'm doing and not bring uninterested folks. I love to do custom chairs that I get at thrift shops in my spare time(ha ha ) I like working with Cow Hide.  When it comes to Auto seats thank goodness my husband is a mechanic, I had to call him last week to help with a armrest I couldn't get back on. After an hour I knew the process had to be easier than what I was doing. Sure enough, 5 minutes he had it on. the clip was sprung...  I have a page on Facebook under Unique Stitches that shows my work. Once again, Thanks. I need to get to work and take advantage of my 2 weeks closed. Have A Great day everyone.
Title: Re: Introduction to forum
Post by: Mojo on February 03, 2014, 03:51:18 PM
I think Doc made some good points. Call them a helper.

Your situation reminds me of a former member here. he brought on a helper, made him an apprentice, taught him alot of skills and invested alot of time and then a couple years down the road he quit.

He went down  the road, opened his own shop and started competing against him.

I would hire a helper but the only way I would ever consider an apprentice is to make them sign a non-compete clause.

I am to the point of needing a helper and will probably look for a retired seamstress who is looking to work a few hours a week. I need someone that is familiar with a machine as well as cutting. I am to busy to train someone from the ground up.

Best of luck with your search.