By John O’Brien
LYONS – The Lyons Economic Gardening Group is working to help businesses succeed in the small community of Lyons by lending the expertise of local experts to business owners. Recently LEGG met with Georgia English, owner and operator of The Upholstery Shop, 401 Main St.
We were intrigued by English, who we knew had an artistic and design background, taking on a more industrial, hands-on business and making it a success. We found out that Georgia English was born in Australia and grew up riding horses on her grandfather’s 2,000-acre sheep ranch.
After finishing an English degree at Sydney University in 1992 she traveled to California with the idea of seeing America. Her horse training took her to Wyoming, Texas, Florida, and upstate New York. She attended graduate school at Johns Hopkins 1998 in Baltimore and graduated with a master’s degree in literary fiction.
She was headed back to Australia after one more summer in Wyoming but met her husband in Wyoming and moved with him to his hometown of Little Rock, Ark., where she had twin boys in 2002. In Little Rock, she taught writing at the University of Arkansas and started sewing clothes for herself and friends. Hunting vintage fabrics at estate sales and re-working sweaters and dresses, she created Peachpavlova, a small clothing line of one-off pieces that sold at local boutiques and became featured in local fashion shows and magazines.
With the desire to raise her boys in the West, English and her family moved to Colorado in 2008. Lyons reminded her of small country towns in Australia and she enrolled her boys at the elementary school. She began apprenticing for Bill Adams at Adams and Moore Upholstery. Using her skills as a seamstress and fulfilling the physical aspect of her nature, upholstery became a natural fit. Adams trained her to refinish wood and retie springs, to cover sofas and chairs and transform old pieces into new.
In November of 2010 Bill Adams and his wife Donna moved to Hawaii, and English bought the upholstery business. She employs Jill Jacob as an upholsterer and seamstress, and Chester Nuels, an upholsterer with 42 years experience, as the master and teacher in the business. When the upholstery shop refits antique love seats and sofas for the Boulderado Hotel, it is Nuels who hand-tufts the intricate pieces. He also restores automotive interiors, fixing headliners, dash panels and reupholstering seats in leather or fabric.
The Upholstery Shop landed big jobs with the Boulderado Hotel, refurbished all the chairs in the bar at the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, has worked for several Starbucks stores and recently reupholstered the booths at a Denver Taco Bell in signature purple vinyl. Working with three designers, two from Boulder and one from Estes, the shop is busy with the mix of industrial, residential and automotive projects. Jacob also canes chairs and does simple clothing alterations in her spare time.
The shop itself is an inviting mix of design and industrial work, with one of the three people usually sewing something from a slipcover to a teepee. Jacob and English feel that an important part of their design capability is that they can talk fabric and durability and recommend solutions according to a customer’s lifestyle. English will often visit with clients in their homes to assist them in choosing appropriate materials and colors, bringing some of her many fabric books and personally matching fabric from one of the two thousand samples she has available. The Upholstery Shop will not advise a customer to redo a piece of furniture that will not hold its value or comfort.
English prides herself on being not only a designer and upholsterer but also a fair and honest consultant regarding the cost of the repair versus the value of the piece. When broken furniture is deemed worth saving, local woodworkers are brought in to help repair the more difficult and broken pieces. She believes that each piece is unique in its own way and even if it might seem as though it is at the end of its life it can usually be salvaged and “re-loved back to life.”
We found that at the present time, approximately 20 percent of The Upholstery Shop volume is in automotive, 20 percent in commercial and 60 percent in residential. We encouraged her to intentionally set goals for the percentage that each of those segments should be in order to optimize her revenue and profitability.
The shop offers free pick-up and delivery for Lyons residents. English can estimate the cost of labor and fabric yardage via email or in person. The shop will also work to have the furniture back to the customer within a reasonable time frame.
LEGG is the economic development committee of the Lyons Area Chamber of Commerce and it offers small business development, business management education and consultation opportunities to local businesses.
For more information please contact the Lyons Area Chamber of Commerce at 303-823-5215; www.lyons-colorado.com. Also you can contact LEGG at email@example.com. LEGG is available to chamber member businesses, offering time to discuss the growth of your business.
John O’Brien is the chairman of the Lyons Economic Gardening Group, LEGG. He has worked in business and industry for many years and teaches classes at the University of Denver. He lives in Lyons. For more information on LEGG, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call 303-823-5215.Back to Top