Shannon Robinson is the mother of four boys who have four chickens, one bunny and a hive of bees. She is passionate about family, boating, college basketball — and opening a fabric store in St. Louis.
If you would have said to me 15 years ago that one day I would love to sew, I would have told you you'd lost your mind. Sewing was for old people, I was certain of that. But here I am, just 30 years old (clearly not old at all), not only knowing and loving to sew, but in the process of opening my very own fabric store.
It started nine years ago when I was pregnant with my first child. Inspired by my mother-in-law, a fantastic quilter who can make anything, I wanted to make my first baby blanket. Looking at the quilt now, I see so many mistakes. The seams don’t line up exactly, some cuts weren’t perfect, but I didn’t see any of that then. I was proud of myself. It felt good to create something that to me was beautiful.
Picking out fabrics is by far my favorite thing about sewing: fabric stores are candy shops for my eyes. But because there aren't any non-traditional fabric stores in greater St. Louis area (my taste is a bit more modern, ecletic) I have to order online. I then eagerly wait for the package, which I gleefully unwrap when it arrives. I then stare at the beautifully stacked fabrics. Once I place the fabric in my sewing room, I look at the package some more. If it's really beautiful I don’t use it. Fabric is art in and of itself. I suppose you can say fabric is my guilty pleasure.
I started dreaming about opening my own fabric shop four years ago. I would sketch it out, decorate the shop in my head as I lay awake at night. The idea made me happy. But with three children (now four), having my own business didn't seem like an option.
In January 2011, my dream got a recharge. I visited a fabric shop while on vacation. It was hip and modern; all of the prints I love were in one place. I bought as much as my pocket book could handle. I was in heaven. I couldn’t stop talking about how wonderful the store was and how good it felt inside. My husband saw in my eyes that this was my dream and he told me to go for it. I shared the idea with my friends as well. Some are actually in or familiar with the industry. Some are not, but all were supportive. Their encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to take the next step.
Image courtesy Heather Bailey
I spent the next six months putting together a 15-page business plan, including financial projections. We now have three investors and half of our money raised. I have guilds and sewing groups contacting me asking when the store will open. There is a buzz and excitement about this store.
Here's my vision:
Fabric Nosherie will be a gathering place for sewers, a place where they can come to learn, to teach, to encourage and to serve. We will sell the highest quality fabric and accessories, with the shop decor a cross between Anthropologie and Restoration Hardware. We will encourage and support the local communities through service projects, such as; quilting blankets for the St. Louis Nursery, sewing stuffed animals for project Night-Night and making bags for orphans in Bulgaria.
I am so, so excited about Fabric Nosherie. If you'd like to see my dream come to life, you can visit my blog at www.fabricnosherie.blogspot.com.
How do you respond when your friends and family and children share their dreams with you?
Any advice you'd give Shannon? If there were a fabric store in your community, which fabrics would you want it to carry? What kind of experience would you want to have in her store?
Any suggestions on raising the additional monies? Any types of bank loans or lines of credit that have been especially helpful to you? Any thoughts on finding local investors? Or people you'd connect Shannon to?