Picking Daisies Interview | June 2012

Last fall I was able to sit down and get the scoop from two lovely ladies – Kay and Dede. They’re sisters who own the darling shoppe Picking Daisies downtown San Luis Obispo in The Creamery. What used to be a handmade cloth napkin and table linen store {with the occasional lavender saché lying around for purchase} is quickly transforming its self into a darling and modern fabric shoppe.

I had the pleasure of being able to sit down with them again to discuss the big transformation and find out if their fabric influences have changed in the past nine months…

When you first opened Picking Daisies, how did you build your clientele? Did you advertise or promote at all?

Kay: We never really formally advertised

Dede: We sort of did a s0ft opening and then Art After Dark

Kay: And with Art After Dark, which was our Grand Opening, we just invited a bunch of a friends and I think we just grew by word of mouth

Dede: And then the New Times did an article about us just before Christmas and that brought a ton of people in as well as The Journal and The Tribune – that was all within six months. That helped bring people in and get to know us

So from being so successful in growing quickly without any formal advertising are you hoping for the same in transforming into a fabric shoppe or are you going about it differently?

Kay: We placed an ad in the Tribune this time and we have been sort of hinting at it in our newsletter

Was it successful?

Kay: One of our friends said she saw the ad and tried to think of what shop it might be thats in The Creamery so when she came here she said she had heard of Picking Daisies as the napkin store, but never thought of coming in because she is a sewer and sewed her own napkins. So theres a lot of fabricy people out there who haven’t previously been on our radar because we sold what they already knew how to make. Its brought in people who have known we have been here for the past 3 1/2 years, customers or not, who just didn’t know we sell fabric now. I’m also thinking about having the Downtown Business Association forward our newsletter to their whole mailing list, which will reach a lot of people. We really just need to make it crystal clear. 

Do you plan on having a re-opening to promote the fabric side of your shoppe?

Kay: No, we don’t. In fact, I hadn’t even thought about that. But there are a few things we would like to take care of before we do something like that.

{This is where I offered my services to help out if they do choose to launch a re-opening, haha}

Dede: We should do something like that – that would be fun

It would be fun and great because San Luis does not have a decent, modern fabric store. It’s all curtailed, in my opinion, to quilters specifically who may not be ‘hip’ to what us modern sewers are in to.

When you introduced the small amount of fabric before, your selections were based mainly off of ‘will this make a good napkin?’; have you selections for fabric and what you bring in now – and are planning on carrying in the future – changed as far as what you think it will be good as? Do you select it by personal taste and what will sell as fabric or what will make a good napkin?

Kay: When we made our first fabric collection purchase we still had it in the back of our minds whether or not it would make a good napkin, but we also feel like we may never turn these into napkins because we love it so much.

Which collection would that be?

Dede: It’s the new Lotta Jansdotter collection

KaySo it’s the first fabric that we bought that we will probably never turn into napkins or table linens

DedeKay is really into buying collections now instead of just buying one fabric from a collection {for napkins}. Shes buying four or five in a collection.

{At this point in the interview the phone rang and it just so happened to be the guy who was making the new signs for the shop. While Kay was on the phone with him, Dede showed me some of the new placemats they had made out of some of the fabric they’re now carrying in the shoppe. They look fabulous!}

I think its fantastic that you have table linens and fabric and that you can sell the fabric for custom table linens. Not a lot of fabric stores offer that. In working at Birch, we would have customers come in to purchase fabric and would ask if we could make them a tablecloth or a bag – Birch doesn’t offer that service within. Because you do that, I think it’s a huge sell.

Dede: Mmmhmm, I agree, it is good and we want to continue doing that for our customers. I even had a customer come in and ask if we could make a bikini for them! Umm, no. Haha. But I don’t know of any place in the county that makes table linens other than us and I think that makes us unique.

Now the last time I was here gettin’ the scoop, I had asked if you ladies planned on expanding the store and offering more goods than table linens and the occasional lavender saché and you said very minimally, but no; not really.

Dede: When was the last interview? Last summer?

It was in August, so just at the end of summer.

Dede: I wonder when we discovered that a friend of ours was a really great sewer. Kay, when did we discover Barb was a great sewer?

Kay: Last November, so just after the interview.

Dede: That may be it. When we started working with her on our table linens, extending from just napkins to table cloths, we were finding that tablecloths take up a whole lot of one bolt. Needing to purchase and carry more fabric than what we were needing before just kind of grew into just wanting more fabric in general.

Kay: We were being introduced to so many more designers and manufacturers and they were contacting us trying to sell their fabric, we just couldn’t say no. So yeah; forget everything I said last summer.

How do you want to set yourself apart from other fabric stores in this area? 

Kay: We really want to try and target sewers who are either new to the art or are always trying to find new ideas in the art. We want to be available to the modern sewers that are coming out of the woodworks. We’re not looking to carry an entire collection and become crowded and overwhelming; we want to be able to look at a collection, pick out four or five that we like {and feel everyone else will} and just carry that. You go into a lot of fabric stores and theres just too much too look at; we don’t want that.

So you don’t really want to outgrow this space?

Both ladies: No, not at all. Its a great space and a perfect location. 

Dede: There are a lot of changes happening in The Creamery with the existing business already that we feel we can really benefit from being in this location. 

Kay: I think the changes are going to bring a lot of new faces. I think all of these changes are going to be really great.

_______

It was a lot of fun hanging out with the ladies and pretty hilarious to listen to the playback of the interview. There was a lot of customer background bustle; Kay’s son Richard talking about HTML or CSS or whatever it was he was using/doing to change the look of Picking Daisies website to accommodate for their new addition of fabric; Oliver cooing, crying, pooping, grinning, and just being plain ol’ cute; and mexican food ordering going on the whole time.

Thank you ladies for letting me drill you, change baby’s diaper on your table in the back, and feeding me. I am so excited about this new part of your shoppe and am going to be coming in as much as I can to build my fabric collection/obsession. It’s great to finally have a modern fabric store south side of ‘the grade’ with fabulous options, handmade goodies and perks. I hope you gals grow so big that you need to hire me! Haha.

Swing by their blogfacebook, and twitter, and flickr! to see what they’re up to and visit their website to purchase some goodies and fabric! You won’t be disappointed!

{Photos courtesy of Picking Daisies}

Picking Daisies

Picking Daisies Newsletter


Advertisements

Interview | Picking Daisies | August 2011

Last year I had the opportunity to interview the lovely ladies over at Picking Daisies for another blog that a friend and I ran together. Lately they have been going through some changes and I wanted to interview them again to showcase the new direction they are moving in. I’ll be drafting up some questions this week and heading into their darling shop soon after to see what daisies these ladies are picking now.

Until then, enjoy my first interview with them.

Kay Porczak and Dede Bruington own a darling little shop in The Creamery in San Luis Obispo, CA full of napkins made with amazing fabric. You can purchase or rent napkins as well as browse their other adorable little handmade creations.

When we started up this blog, interviewing was one of the many ideas we had and Picking Daisies was at the top of that list. When we asked them if we could interview them they happily agreed and so we had the pleasure of doing so.

Ashley was able to sit down with these ladies in their lovely shop and talk business, fun, and alcohol. Here is what transpired…..

Ashley to Kay: When did you start to sew?

When our sister, Ann, first came up with the idea for this business, I had never, ever sewn in my life, never took it in high school, I had never owned a sewing machine or even had an interest. When Ann said, ‘I have an idea for this business, let’s make napkins..’ I bought a sewing machine. So that was about five years ago. But the funny thing is, I feel like I was born to sew!

Ashley to Dede: Do you sew?

I don’t sew. I was a home ec major at Cal Poly and I took sewing and I was terrible. 

What part do you take in the brilliance of Pcking Daisies?

I focus on display and merchandising. 

How did Picking Daisies come about/Who’s dream was it? 

Ann was the one who came up with the idea, but it wasn’t really her dream to have a store; she just wanted to sew and sell the napkins at Farmer’s Market and do an online web store.

So who’s idea was it to open a store?

Kay: We realized we needed a space to sew the napkins and were looking at a lot of industrial spaces. We were getting phone calls from people who had found us online and wanted to buy our napkins – we were seriously meeting people in parking lots with bins of napkins – and then we had to figure out if they were at Dede’s house or at Ann’s. So then we just figured it would be easier to just have a space to sew the napkins and store them, we can just meet everyone there. But this store ended up being so far from what we were thinking.

Dede: And we ended up here because in order to sell at Farmer’s Market you have to have a retail space open downtown minimum five days a week, five hours a day so we thought that’s perfect.

Kay: Since this spot in The Creamery was a lot cheaper than a lot of industrial places we were looking at, we thought well we could be open the minimum, but we certainly didn’t really embrace all that it could be.

Does Ann still contribute any?

No, but she planted the seed for this and we {Dede & Kay} let it grow. As we grew and continued to get busier, she decided to step back and let us take over.

When did the shop open?

We had our grand opening in October of 2008, but we were open in a bit of September of 2008.

Dede to Kay: And when did we start making napkins? 2007?

Kay: No, in 2006

Ashley: To get everything started?

Dede: We started, actually, at craft fairs, then by word of mouth.

Ashley to Kay: How do fabrics inspire you? 

Oh my gosh. I can’t get enough of fabrics! I guess they inspire me in a way as following every great fabric blog I can find and every fabric designer, so when I do see fabrics I immediately categorize them home decor, napkins, clothing, etc. In the next year, we want to go to one of the Quilt Marts where they launch all the new fabrics!

Do you have a favorite designer?

Dede: Anna Maria Horner. Oh and Alexander Henry makes some of the best novelty fabrics around. I really love novelty fabrics.

Kay: I think Anna Maria Horner, but not only because she makes the best fabric, but because shes so inspirational. She’s got kids, she designs fabric, sews, shes so creative, but yet so nurturing and is just amazing.

Ashley: She just has everything well balanced.

Kay: Exactly. And then theres designers like Kaffe Fassett who designs amazing fabric, but I keep hearing snippets about him that I don’t agree with.

Dede: But it is our best selling napkins.

Kay: I know, but guy needs to change his judgements. But I don’t know if I can say I have a favorite.

Dede: Top four

Kay: Top four: Anna Maria Horner, Laura Gunn, Kaffe Fassett – that’s about it. Everyone loves Amy Butler, but I wouldn’t put her in my top favorites.

Ashley to Dede: How about you? Do fabrics inspire you in any way even though you’re not one to sit behind a machine? 

I tend to go to novelty and at first we didn’t do any novelty, but then we tried christmas fabric and it was a good hit, wouldn’t you say Kay?

Kay: Mmmhmmmm!

Dede: So then we added the apples and owls {at which point Ashley’s eyes widened because she LOVES OWLS!!!}.

The conversation trailed off a bit to talking about novelty fabrics that have turkeys with football helmets on them. Dede just had to show me….. WTH?!?! 

Ashley to Dede: You have kids – do any of them place an inspiration on your passions?

Ashley: Because, you know… Henry is a photographer and does film as well so does any of what he does inspire you?

Dede: I don’t know so much about for here. I don’t know… I’d have to think about that.

Ashley: What about Annie?

Dede: I don’t know. I feel like they’ve become more inspired by me by having this business and now they love it and have opinions and they care about it.

Ashley: Annie works here when she’s back home, right?

Dede: She does, she loves it. And now all of her friends and friends in college and their families are into the napkins and the store, and our website, and the blog…. so its great to have that support. 

Ashley to Kay: Ellen, your daughter, is a very artistic girl – does her artistic abilities stem from your crafty nature? 

You know its funny because I would have never, and still don’t, consider myself as creative. I think I’m a good engineer and that’s how I used to be. Like, I love the whole engineering in sewing, but other than reigning Dede in on the novelty fabric {we all exchange laughs on that comment}, I really defer to her in picking the fabric because I completely trust her. I know what I like, but I always give her sort of ‘final call’ cause she knows whats going to work and what will sell. 

Dede: Our dad was super creative and our mom was a sewer and sewed quilts and sewed clothes when we were little so when friends come in here that have known us since we were little, they don’t peg it as something we would be, but more of a combination of our mom and dad. 

Kay: So maybe Ellen gets that from them, not from me.

Ashley: Even though you’ve made that tunic you’re wearing and shorts for Richard?

Kay: But that was with a pattern, so it’s all about the engineering of it for me, not the creative side. I like the challenge of a pattern and the instructions and seeing it all put together.

Dede: And I have such a hard time following directions. I think thats why I wasn’t a successful sewer in taking classes at Cal Poly. 

Ashley to Kay: What project is currently on your machine?

I don’t have one. Once I start something I kinda just can’t stop. So I don’t have like three projects going at a time. Well, the only exception to that is when I had sewing class I would kind of sew to a point where I got stuck and then go to class to move to the next step. But since class, I’ve only sewn two projects – that shirt and an eyelet skirt, but those were done over a weekend. I’m kinda a ‘one project at a time’ kinda person. 

Do you have any other crafts you do, or would like to try?

No there isn’t. I don’t cook, so really this is just my passion right now – to just sew. I was talking to someone one day and told them I was sewing napkins and they said ‘but it’s your day off’ and I said ‘I know’ and thats all I wanna do and I love it. I mean, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. There’s just something so satisfying about sewing a product and then people give you money for it… I’ve never been so satisfied. 

Can you tell us a bit about yourself, maybe outside the world of sewing and business owning? 

Ashley: Well, we already know what you like to do, Kay – sew. So Dede we’ll start with you. {laughing occurs}

Dede: I used to garden. See there were a lot of things we used to do.

Kay: We kind of have this imaginary bulletin board of all the things we used to do, but it isn’t a bad thing. 

Dede: We do love hanging out at coffee shops. I don’t really have any hobbies. I like watching baseball…

Ashley: How about family stuff?

Kay: Dede and I were both stay at home moms so that really defined us for about 15 years of our lives. And really towards the end of those 15 years we were sort of joking saying ‘what the eff are we going to do? we are going to be writing poerty at Linneas.’ {the ladies start laughing about that comment as its in reference to their kids growing up}

Dede: A lot of what we did was yoga, coffee, and gym…

Kay: But this is sort of our hobby. I don’t know, I guess I just never really felt like a well defined person until now. {Dede mmhhmmm’s in agreement.}

Dede: And I think our kids have more of an interest in us now, then when we were a stay-at-home-mom. 

And then we trailed off into talking about how Kay was never really domesticated. She doesn’t cook, didn’t like to clean… it was actually quite funny how opposed to cooking she is. But she mentioned her daughter, Ellen, loves to cook now so she gets a good home cooked meal regardless. 

What’s your advice for crafties who want to open a business?

Kay: Well, I think Etsy has opened up opportunities. Like I would say we should have done this years ago, but I don’t know how successful it would have been, but Etsy..

Dede: And Kickstarter. You should really check it out.

Kay: Yes, its great! Its for people who want to start a business and they propose their idea and try to get people to fund it. But those two sites have really opened up a world of possibilities for people as opposed to twenty years ago where the idea of having a small business was you’re either 100% or not at all. Where as now, anybody can test the waters with Etsy and you may grow beyond that or you may not, but it’s a great place to start. 

Since you’ve opened, your product has grown a bit as far as adding aprons, pillows, and other little goodies…. Do you plan to expand the business in goods even more? 

Kay: Very minimally. Like last christmas we introduced lavender sachéts as something fun and they were a big hit. Now that I’ve figured out how to put our label on them we have decided to continue selling them and are already thinking, ‘what can we do for next holiday season?’ So yes and no, but I don’t want to get to the point where we can’t manage it all. 

And of course, what is your favorite alcoholic beverage to consume while sewing or crafting?

Kay: White wine. A few months ago I was really loving chardonnay, but right now I like sauvignon. In the winter, though, I would switch to red wine. I really love wine.

Dede: My favorite is pinot grigio, Santa Margarita label is really good – it’s my favorite white wine.  

Thank you ladies for giving us the opportunity to interview you and for giving us great advice for the crafties out there!

Swing by their blogfacebook, and twitter, and flickr! to see what they’re up to and visit their website to purchase some goodies! You won’t be disappointed!

Happy Crafting!

~Ashley & Breana

{Thank you to Richard Fusillo for taking & providing the photos!}

Picking Daisies

Picking Daisies Newsletter

 I can’t wait to share what they’re up to now!