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The latest news and blog posts from the National Upholstery Association.  All members can read and comment on blog posts.

Industry Partners and Educator members are invited to guest blog for the NUA twice a year. Contact us if you're interested. 

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  • October 06, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    by Harmony Maraldo, NUA President

    A huge THANK YOU to NUA volunteers Bonnie Williams, Amy Petersen, Jonathan Bennett, Kim Newell, and Keaven Hartt for helping coordinate the NUA pre-events and Marketplace booth. You are all rock stars and the lifeblood of our organization.

    Also, a special thank you to Susan Woodcock, Rodger Walker, and Laurie Medford for coordinating such an amazing event year after year. What you do is so incredibly important for our industry and I feel grateful to have you as NUA partners and friends.

    Want to view more photos of this year’s event? Check out our photo gallery!

    How many of you joined us at the Custom Workroom Conference this year?

    French Mattress Class with Polly WaiteThis was my second year in attendance, and I had even more fun than last year! The National Upholstery Association kicked off the conference on Sunday afternoon with a French Mattress Cushion class, taught by Polly Waite of Polliander Studios. This particular event required more logistics and planning than previous years, but the effort paid off. We saw a full class of 40 participants, with 4 volunteers assisting. Honestly, I was a little nervous that we’d encounter some unforeseeable setback. (There’s always at least one in every event, isn’t there?) But overall, the class was a great success, and each participant went home with their very own cushion sample.

    After the class, I popped over to the conference center to pick up my conference badge (with some extra goodies this year!) Then returned back to the Hyatt for the National Upholstery Association’s Happy Hour event. There, our class participants and a few additional guests joined us for drinks and appetizers. I loved having this time to reconnect with old friends and make some new ones. While I’ve grown accustomed to fostering community remotely through Zoom calls, nothing compares to in-person interaction. I felt like I was home.

    Jonathan and Harmony at the WCAA Cocktail Social

    Monday marked the beginning of class instruction at the Custom Workroom Conference. All classes fell under one of four different tracks, ensuring there was a relevant topic for everyone: 1) a Business track, 2) a Window Treatment track, 3) an Upholstery track, and 4) a Cross-Industry track, which included widely-appealing topics with crossover into both the custom drapery and upholstery workroom industries. All the instructors were amazing! I took loads of notes, and dutifully stashed my handouts in the 3-ring binder provided to me at registration.

    One special highlight of the day was the luncheon and welcome program, sponsored by Hanes. Susan Woodcock performed a top-notch Mr. Rogers impression, and fan favorite (and NUA Board member) Jonathan Bennett led the participants in several engaging rounds of workroom-themed bingo. Another highlight was the evening WCAA cocktail social, sponsored by Kirsch Drapery Hardware. Jonathan made another appearance, this time in a flashy sequined-and-tasseled jacket. What a sight to see!

    Tuesday kicked off the Exhibitor Marketplace event. I just love walking around to all the booths talking shop with vendors and checking out their wares. (And yes, I did break out my credit card!) The CWC Education Station was one of my favorite places to mingle and watch product demos. 

    Like many others, I even joined in and took pics at the selfie stations around the floor, though I’ll admit I didn’t get the chance to post them all to social media. Back at the NUA booth, I talked to so many of you, our members and friends, about our mission and the programs and benefits we offer our members and the industry at large. I really enjoyed our conversations and hope we meet again at future events!

    Harmony at the NUA booth at CWC

    At the NUA booth, we held an upholstery book raffle, giving away a total of 6 book prizes. The winners (and the books they went home with) include:

    • Julia Horrocks - Seven Hills Nest (Design Directory of Bedding)
    • Bernadette Miller - Fair Street Design (Early Seating Upholstery – Reading the Evidence)
    • Carol Dykhouse - Creations by Carol (The Sewing Master Guide: From Basic to Expert)
    • Lindsay Orwig - A Chick & A Chair (The Little Upholstery Book, signed by the author)
    • Paula Pagonakis (Upholstery Drapes & Slip Covers)
    • Robin Matthews - Seams Sew Right (Simple Upholstery & Slipcovers)

    The NUA also sold limited edition Anatomy of an Upholsterer tee shirts, with the names of each body part crowdsourced from our friends at the Professional Upholsterer’s Network on Facebook. We put the names of all shirt-naming post participants into a box, and asked Lindsay Orwig to pull a random name to win a free tee-shirt. Congrats to our winner, Cheryl Valleroy - we hope you enjoy your shirt!

    If you weren’t a winner, or didn’t get the chance to pick up a shirt at the show, don’t worry – we have a stack left and they may make an appearance at one of NUA’s future events!

    Kim and Lindsay pick a winner

    Wednesday was the final day of educational classes and closing remarks. A bittersweet day, I found myself incredibly exhausted after a packed schedule, yet also sad to part ways with my friends and colleagues. Susan made a heartwarming speech to close out the day, then, I joined shoulders with my fellow conference participants for a final photo and goodbye. Finally, with a tear in my eye, I set off for the airport and the long journey home.

    Mark your calendars for next year’s event!

    Custom Workroom Conference

    September 23-25, 2024

    Crowne Plaza Providence-Warwick

    Providence, Rhode Island

  • July 22, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    Lewis Mabon rests on a chair manufactured during the Micro Plant eventGreetings, NUA friends and supporters! We're back from the Furniture Manufacturing Expo 2023, and boy, was it an event to remember! The National Upholstery Association (NUA) graced the expo for the second year running, leaving a trail of inspiration and innovation in their wake. Below is a recap.

    Education: Upholstery Track

    As proud sponsors of the Upholstery Track, the NUA went all out to empower attendees with knowledge and expertise. Board members Lewis Mabon, Jonathan Bennett, and Marta Powers, took the stage, leading captivating educational sessions on both days of the event. From cutting-edge upholstery technology to the art of fabric matching, from designing plywood frames in 3D CAD to sewing with vinyl from a custom upholstery perspective—every session was a goldmine of insights and skills.

    One highlight of the Upholstery Track was the in-depth panel discussion led by Marta Powers, where the importance of ongoing training in the upholstery industry was passionately explored. Attendees soaked up wisdom from seasoned professionals including Susan Woodcock (Custom Workroom Conference), Rick J. Shew (Caldwell Community College), and Brian Craig (Catawba Valley Furniture Academy & Alexander Furniture Academy) gaining fresh perspectives and igniting their passion for the craft.

    Marta also led a discussion with Ewa Powell (Modern Fabrics), talking about sustainability and her efforts to keep overrun yardage out of the landfill. All of Modern Fabric’s product offerings were once slated for the landfill and are currently being resold to homeowners, upholsterers, interior designers and hobbyists who believe in the reuse of furniture and reducing their global footprint.

    Micro Plant Event: A Trailblazing Journey

    Breaking new ground, the NUA sponsored the all-new Micro Plant event in collaboration with other FME exhibitors. This immersive journey took attendees on a marked path around the show floor, offering a firsthand experience of the chair construction process.

    The Micro Plant event started at the NUA's booth, showcasing the design step of the manufacturing processThe tour began at the NUA Booth for the design step, where attendees could view a book of drawings that made the manufacture of the chair possible. Next came the selection of premium wood, followed by expertly cutting the frame to match the design flawlessly. Attendees witnessed the meticulous selection, cutting, and sewing of leather—every step carefully executed to craft a masterpiece. Finally, the skilled artisans at Domenick's Furniture Manufacturer assembled a complete chair right before the audience's eyes!

    Bill Richards, the Sales Director with Zünd America, took charge of guiding tours through the Micro Plant on both event days. His enthusiasm and expertise added a touch of magic to the experience, leaving attendees in awe of the craftsmanship behind every chair.

    YouTube: Bill Zund describes the Micro Plant event at FME

    Micro Plant Auction: Giving Back to Upholstery Community

    FME’s commitment to the upholstery community extended beyond knowledge-sharing. At the end of the two-day extravaganza, the show coordinators held a special silent auction for the two completed chairs from the Micro Plant event. All proceeds from the auction will be generously donated to support the NUA's mission of fostering excellence in the upholstery domain.

    The auction was an opportunity for attendees to take home a tangible piece of the event while contributing to a noble cause. This act of giving back exemplified the spirit of camaraderie and collaboration that defined the expo.

    Thank you to the Volunteers Behind NUA's FME Exhibition

    Acknowledgments to Leslie Hug for her support in running the NUA booth at the Furniture Manufacturing Expo. With her warm demeanor and vast knowledge, Leslie connected with attendees, fostering a sense of camaraderie that epitomizes the NUA's mission. We extend our deepest gratitude to Leslie for making the trade show experience truly exceptional and unforgettable.

    The NUA also thanks Lewis Mabon, for his invaluable assistance in planning and coordinating the association’s presence at the Furniture Manufacturing Expo. His efforts were crucial to the success of the show, and the NUA genuinely appreciates his contributions.

    A Resounding Success

    As the curtains draw on the Furniture Manufacturing Expo 2023, the NUA reflects back with pride and fulfillment. Their dedication to promoting education, innovation, and connection within the upholstery world was evident throughout the event.

    Kudos to the National Upholstery Association and its volunteers for orchestrating such an outstanding presence at the expo! We can't wait to see what they have in store for us next year.

    Dominic Amador and Daniel Valentin of CS Osborne / Massasoit Tackband, one of NUA's Gold Industry Partner membersDominic Amador and Daniel Valentin of CS Osborne / Massasoit Tackband, one of NUA's Gold Industry Partner members

    The 27 Piece Puzzle: Attendees try their hand at assembling a plywood chair frame The 27 Piece Puzzle: Attendees try their hand at assembling a plywood chair frame

    Ewa Powell from Modern Fabrics discusses her business' goals of precycling and sustainability Ewa Powell from Modern Fabrics discusses her business' goals of precycling and sustainability

    Karsten Siewert of Enkev, speaker on natural upholstery alternatives Karsten Siewert of Enkev, speaker on natural upholstery alternatives

    Last stop on the Micro Plant tour - upholstery in action Last stop on the Micro Plant tour - upholstery in action

    Hector the master upholsterer - last stop on the Micro Plant tour Hector the master upholsterer - last stop on the Micro Plant tour

    One of two chairs auctioned from the Micro Plant event One of two chairs auctioned from the Micro Plant event

    Finished Micro Plant chair Finished Micro Plant chair

  • June 25, 2023 10:36 AM | Laura Archer (Administrator)

    A Conversation with Polly Waite

    This month we had the pleasure of asking Polly Waite, a classically trained upholsterer, member of the AMUSF and instructor of our CWC Pre-event French Mattress Class, a few questions about our trade and her background. Since Polly is across the pond in the UK, we chatted via email and her insightful answers provided a window into the pride she takes in the tradition of the upholstery trade and the possible negative implications the on-demand culture can have on a skilled trade. 

    Can you tell us about your experience as a classically trained upholsterer and furniture restorer? How has your background in design and family history in antiques influenced your work? How did you get started in the trade? 

    I have been a classically trained upholsterer for around 15 years now. It has been such a rewarding career for me. The sense of pride and achievement you get when you restore something to its former glory days is pretty awesome. And with the huge variety of furniture out there, it never gets boring and I never stop pushing myself to reach perfection. I think I've always been creative but I've never found the right outlet for it until I started down this road. My family used to work in antiques so I'm used to going to auctions and house clearances to try and find treasure hidden amongst the tat. I think that just made me always appreciate and admire the craftsmanship that went in to antiques so the fact that I've fallen into an industry that helps restore those pieces and involves the same level of skill and craftsmanship makes perfect sense but it was never planned.

    As a member of the Association of Master Upholsterers and Soft Furnishing, what role do you believe professional organizations play in promoting high standards of technique and customer service in the upholstery trade?

    I strongly believe there is a huge need for organizations like the AMUSF. They promote and help uphold a high level of standard and training. We have valuable pieces of history put in our hands and if people don't know what they're doing then those wonderful antiques will be ruined and won't be there anymore. Sadly, I hear the phrase "oh I've done some upholstery" all too often, people think they can pick up a staple gun and watch a YouTube video and then become a professional upholsterer. Don't get me wrong, we all have to start somewhere but if you want to be a professional in any trade you should seek proper training. I certainly wouldn't let a doctor operate on me just because they'd watched a few YouTube videos and thought it was pretty simple. I know I'm not a doctor but you get my point.

    Could you share some of your most creative and challenging upholstery commissions? How did you approach these unique projects?

    I once had to make 2 cloud sofas for a festival. Someone I know is the art director for a festival and she asked if I could come and help out, I said yes as I love doing fun, random, creative projects. One day I was spray painting baby dolls gold and making wings for them to turn them into cherubs and the next I was asked to knock up 2 cloud sofas. In 2 days, this was a bit of a tall order but I do love a challenge and with the help of a carpenter, we did it. Luckily, they turned out just as good as the image I had in my head and they were super comfy too.

    Being a trusted member of The House Of Upcycling and a mentor to future upcycle designers and upholsterers, what advice do you have for aspiring professionals in the upholstery industry?

    The best advice I would give to anyone would be to get some good training and practice, practice, practice. Upholstery is a big craft, there is so much to learn, which is great but don't beat yourself up just because haven't learnt everything or mastered it all in a year. Practice and take your time with it.

    We understand you were a specialist restorer on Channel 4's show, "Mend It For Money." How did this experience contribute to your expertise in upholstery restoration? What were some of the most memorable restorations you worked on during the show?

    Oh god TV work is strange. I'm used to working for as long as something takes but on a TV set with a tight schedule you don't have that luxury. You have to do things a bit differently due to time constraints but you still have to make sure things are done to high standard. You certainly don't have the time to agonize over every detail like I normally would. You kind of forget you're being filmed after a while. I do remember on the last day I was rushing to finish as they were literally packing up and closing the set as it was the end of the show and they had to be out of the studio that night. That felt a bit stressful and of course everything was going wrong.

    The National Upholstery Association aims to increase the health of the upholstery trade. From your perspective, what are some of the current challenges or opportunities facing the industry? How can organizations like the NUA address these?

    Years ago, upholstery was a highly respected and valued trade but sadly that isn't the case anymore. Quick fix tv shows making things look like they take a fraction of the time they do, people stapling on some fabric to make something look good on an Instagram post and churned out cheap factory furniture have made people think what we do is both simple, low skilled and quick - it is none of these. I think we need to get out there and show people what we really do, to show the real skill and craftsmanship behind upholstery. On the plus side it's a perfect time for that. Craft fairs and farmers markets are hugely popular. People are wanting to learn more about what they eat, drink and put in their homes. They want to learn about artisan crafts and to see how things are created and to sometimes give it a go too. This will then in turn lead to more people wanting to seek out good ones when they have something they want upholstered and some will want to learn to become upholsterers themselves. People need to know that it's a career option, most people don't. So, for me I think it's about spreading the word, upholding high standards for your members and making sure there's good training available for those learning.

    Upholstery is a highly skilled craft that requires continuous learning and improvement. How do you stay updated with the latest techniques and trends in the field? Do you have any favorite resources or educational opportunities that you can recommend to other upholsterers?

    Well pretty much the only people I follow on Instagram are upholsterers! I like to see photos of things and then work out how they did it. Sometimes you see something done a little differently and you want to try it out. The English way of upholstery is a bit different from the French and then Swedish is a bit different from them and so on and so forth, every country will have a slight variation on things but the main basis is the same. I was taught how to do things a certain way and then I've picked up a few things from other upholstery teachers I've worked with over the years and the odd advanced course I've been on but some of what I do are things that I came up with myself because to me they make sense and work. I think every craftsman is a bit like that. So, you never stop learning and wanting to try new things.  Armand Verdier is one to follow and he does some training courses on traditional French stitching techniques and Gareth Rees from the British School of Upholstery is another one... 

  • June 09, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    The former and first president of the National Upholstery Association takes yet another big leap within the big picture of the upholstery trade.

    By Monica Rhodes of Monday Wash Furniture

    A few months ago, in February of 2023, Rachel Fletcher loaded herself, 2 dogs, a cat, and her collection of a dozen or so succulents into her SUV and drove cross-country, for days, from Knoxville, Tennessee to Oakland, CA. Upon her arrival, she stepped out to California sunshine and a brand new chapter in the beyond impressive story of her career in the upholstery trade. The animals were troopers and weathered the trip well as Rachel ushered them (sometimes surreptitiously) in and out of hotel rooms. The plants, wrapped snug in a blanket in the front seat of the truck, received words of encouragement to hang on through cold nights with the promise of a warm California window seat on the other end of the journey. That journey was not without challenges, including long lonely stretches of road, inclement weather and a few “absolutely disgusting” hotel rooms.

    Was it worth it?

    “Hell, yeah!”

    On the Road

    “I’m happy!” Rachel says laughing. “I spoke to my grandma the other day, and she was worried about me, but I could honestly say, ‘I’m happy, Grandma! I’m happy where I’m living, I’m happy about my job, my pets are here, my plants are happy, I’m just dang happy.’” Rachel is beaming – and she is radiant.

    Rachel Fletcher’s new life centers around her position as Director of Operations for Kay Chesterfield in Oakland, CA, a century old upholstery shop purchased and transformed by environmental visionary Kriss Kokoefer. Kokoefer assumed the helm of Kay Chesterfield in 2012 and, in the years since, has developed the small shop into a still expanding environmentally focused B-corp company now occupying a 10,000 foot facility and employing 16 people. Kris Kokoefer’s ultimate mission, through Kay Chesterfield, is to reduce office furniture in landfills. According to the company website, Kay Chesterfield “brings beautiful and sustainable re-use to the contract interiors world” and is “working toward a healthier environment, stronger communities and the creation of more high-quality jobs with dignity and purpose. We are a Woman-Owned and led business and a member of several global and national sustainability initiatives. Kay Chesterfield believes in refurbishing existing office furniture and breaking the cycle of furniture going to landfills. We are known for our caring culture, professional project management and high-quality artistry."   -

    Almost Moved In

    Rachel describes the hiring process as amazing. She took part in several interviews culminating in a visit to California to meet the staff in person. Upon receiving the formal offer, “I was like, absolutely!” says Rachel. “It was such a great opportunity that it would just be dumb not to do it.” The offer did not come completely out of the blue. Kriss and Rachel have known each other for some time, having met as board members of the National Upholstery Association (NUA) at the time of its inception four years ago. They value each other’s opinions. When Rachel was weighing the pros and cons of a career move from Knoxville to Nashville, Tennessee, she turned to Kriss for advice. During that conversation, Kriss mentioned, in passing, that Rachel was on the short list of people that Kokoefer was considering to manage operations at Kay Chesterfield. Fletcher was intrigued, but did not think too deeply about it as she was weighing the pros and cons of a move to Nashville. Then…Kriss came knocking a couple of months later. And that was that.

    “I am super grateful for Knoxville taking a chance on me. Without that, I wouldn’t be here.” Says Rachel, who is originally from St. Louis, but considers Knoxville a home town after living and working there for about 16 years. “I’m so very grateful for the support I received from the people there.” Rachel does not take leaving that support network lightly, but there has not been a moment she has regretted - or even questioned - her decision due, in part, to the fact that she has been welcomed into her new life with such open arms. When I ask Rachel what she enjoys most about her new job, she says, “This may sound cheesy, but it’s the support from Kriss, and from the other employees on the leadership team. It’s been a great place to land.”

    It is no small thing to mount a learning curve of this magnitude. Kay Chesterfield is not a typical upholstery shop given the multiple facets of Kriss Kokoefer’s mission to protect and better the environment on a large scale. This involves active stewardship, advocacy with a focus on keeping current furniture out of landfill, and decreasing the demand for new furniture that is likely destined to end up there as well. The prongs of the business involve reupholstery, furniture cleaning and maintenance programs for large companies, networking and educating designers and business owners, and more. All of this seems very complex from the outside. Fletcher acknowledges that it feels that way from the inside, too.

    Rachel at Home

    Rachel is in the process of onboarding and learning the many different aspects of the company as well as her place within it. As Director of Operations at Kay Chesterfield, Rachel does not do hands-on upholstery as she had for over 12 years as a solo shop owner. “One of the leadership team members described (my new job) best,” says Rachel. “He said that I am kind of ‘the air traffic control person’, and that made complete sense. Kriss is the visionary and she does the cool stuff, making connections and coming up with ideas. My job is to listen to those ideas, kind of whittle them down, and integrate them, as much as possible. I’m learning a whole business, its people, and its culture and I want to learn it all now, but it’s going to take some time. I’m learning something new every day, every hour,” Rachel muses. “It’s different because, beforehand, you’re learning something new on a piece of upholstery, right? You know, like, oh – this is how they did it… But now, I’m learning all about this business. An email comes in and I’m (wondering) what is this all about? What does this mean? So then, I have to go exploring.” This process is daunting, but Rachel receives constant reassurance from the leadership that this is OK. It’s OK to get oriented and to learn the ropes because it’s not about what she knows today, but about what she can do for the company over the long run using her innate gifts and applying her unique experiences and perspective.

    Rachel Fletcher’s perspective is uniquely broad and deep. The state of the trade is exquisitely important to her, and she has influenced it on many levels and in many different capacities. For years, Rachel has been a particularly prominent figure in the US upholstery trade – as a founding member of the National Upholstery Association as well as its first president, as a gifted upholsterer and owner of her own shop, and as a high-profile social media presence bringing attention to the art, science, evolution, and business side of the industry.

    When asked how this most recent step plays into her vision for the trade, Rachel says, “It’s all about bridging the gaps. That’s what I’m excited about. I came from a one-person workroom. Now I’m in a 10,000-foot workroom with a bunch of employees. Bridging that disconnect between those two worlds is what I want to do with the NUA. I know that there are things that the big shops can learn from the small shops, and vice versa. I’d like to bring those two together somehow. I’m not sure how, yet, but I think that would be beneficial to everyone in the trade. As I’m learning more and more here, things just keep formulating in my head. How I’d like to use this position to bring the trade up.” Of critical importance to Rachel: “I want upholsterers to get recognition for what they’re doing. And I want them to be PAID WELL.”

    Kay Chesterfield

    Undoubtedly, this is part of the attraction Kay Chesterfield holds for Fletcher. “What’s unique about Kay Chesterfield is that Kriss offers health insurance, and paid time off. You cannot often find those in the upholstery trade, especially if you are doing it on your own, you know? There are some really nice benefits to working here.” Positive treatment of employees is one of the core tenets of B-corp philosophy. Running a successful business is impressive in and of itself – but to do it with that level of care and responsibility toward your employees, and the workplace environment, and the greater global environment - that’s something more.

    “There’s some really cool stuff on the horizon!” Rachel teases. She is currently leveraging her considerable connections toward that end. “I can say that I have been recruiting people that I know, because I want to get them involved. I’ve got resumes on my desk. There’s some really cool movement coming up. It’s going to be good for the trade as a whole and I’m excited!”

    I lean in eager to hear more, but Rachel demurs. “I’ll leave that announcement to Kriss,” she says with that signature Rachel Fletcher gleam in her eye. So, stay tuned, dear reader, this story is

    to be continued…

    In the meantime, if you, or someone you know, is looking for employment related to the upholstery trade, Rachel asks that you get in touch at:


  • February 23, 2023 9:10 AM | Laura Archer (Administrator)

    To celebrate Black History Month, we would like to recognize Leroy Graves’ historic career and profound impact on the upholstery trade. Last year, the NUA hosted a CWC pre-trip to The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, where our members got an exclusive look at Leroy’s meticulous work on display. Inventor of the “Graves Method,” this non-destructive approach to upholstery preserves the delicate wooden frames of the furniture Leroy works on. It has been adapted and used by conservators around the world. 

    Leroy’s story from humble beginnings to world-renowned upholstery conservator and author serves as an inspiration to upholsterers everywhere. His book, Early Seating Upholstery : Reading the Evidence, can be purchased via the link, and The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation’s website has more information on his work, Upholstery CSI: Reading the Evidence

    Please visit the links below to learn about Leroy and his incredible contributions to the trade. 

    The legend of Leroy Graves: From fields to fame in furniture—ABC News

    "Upholstery CSI": Preserving antique furniture at Colonial Williamsburg—CBS News


    Unmasking the secrets of 1700s upholstery in Colonial Williamsburg—Daily Press

    For Leroy Graves, Upholstery Means Detective Work—New York Times

  • February 20, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    Earlier this month, I had the privilege of chatting with Ceil DiGuglielmo for the Opportunity Thinking series of her podcast, Sew Much More. We talked about my journey into upholstery, the important work of the National Upholstery Association, and a little about my full-time job as a pricing strategist. This episode was released yesterday.

    I spent a good deal of time talking about the NUA and its mission, so I wanted to share that episode with all of you. I am incredibly proud of the work we've done in the last three and a half years, and I think it's worth celebrating! 

    Here's a link to listen. You can also find the episode by searching for the Sew Much More podcast on your favorite podcast app. I hope you'll give it a listen and share, if you can!


  • January 20, 2023 8:00 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)
    As I reflect back on 2022, I feel a huge sense of pride in our association and the things we’ve accomplished in the three years since its founding. However, we would not be where we are today without our members and volunteers. First and foremost I want to say THANK YOU to both our members and our dedicated volunteers for your ongoing support. We are a volunteer-led organization, which means that 100% of your membership dues go directly toward building programs that benefit and strengthen our industry.

    The National Upholstery Association (NUA) seeks to reestablish the systems that provide key resources for our industry - including professional development opportunities, apprenticeship paths, support groups, grants and scholarships, hiring and placement assistance, training opportunities, ongoing education, and more. The decline of available resources for upholstery professionals is colossal and systemic; meaningful change is a huge undertaking and will take time. But each year we march toward that goal, advocating for our members and focusing on the projects that will have the most immediate positive impact within our trade.

    2022 marked our first year back to in-person events since the pandemic began. The personal connections we make when face-to-face are incredibly important in building relationships and fostering collaboration. I’m so glad I had the opportunity to meet so many of you in person and to listen to your ideas and feedback at last year’s Furniture Manufacturing Expo and Custom Workroom Conference. I felt incredibly energized after those events - and I bet you did, too. They gave me an opportunity to network, commiserate, and connect. And I want more of that.

    In the spirit of togetherness, we’ve decided to announce a theme for 2023 - COMMUNITY. This year, we’ll focus our efforts on creating more opportunities for connection and collaboration. We’re still working out the details, but stay tuned for more information about community building programs such as regional events, mentorship programs, and more. Want to help? Apply to become a volunteer!

    At the end of the year, I like to reflect on and celebrate our progress. Here are a handful of our key accomplishments in 2022:

    • Met with the Consumer Product Safety Commission to clarify the impact of the new Standard for the Flammability of Upholstered Furniture as it relates to reupholstery
    • Developed resources to explain the new federal flammability regulation in plain terms and how it impacts our members
    • Added 3 new membership levels to give our Industry Partners and Educators more flexibility in the level of benefit they receive
    • Overhauled our Membership Overview page to better articulate the benefits of each member level
    • Developed a directory of Upholstery Educators in the United States and Canada
    • Exhibited at two trade conferences, including the Furniture Manufacturing Expo and the Custom Workroom Conference
    • Signed up 22 new members at the Custom Workroom Conference (welcome, new friends!)
    • Conducted our second annual Pricing Survey (results available to members only)
    • Doubled-down on our PR efforts in order to broaden our recognition and reach in the industry
    • Distributed our first-ever press release, which was picked up by Furniture Today
    • Grew our social media reach by ~22% across all platforms, totaling more than 6,100 followers today
    • Elected 6 new Board members to help us carry the NUA to the next level. There is SO MUCH TALENT in this group! Take a look at your 2023 Board of Directors here.

    »»»»»  WE NEED VOLUNTEERS!  «««««

    During the pandemic, nearly all of our volunteers understandably stepped down from their NUA volunteer activities to concentrate on their businesses, their families, and their health. In response, we scrambled to reprioritize projects and focused our efforts on the core benefits our members love. A few very dedicated volunteers remained, and the Board of Directors rolled up their sleeves to keep the association cogs turning. I am incredibly grateful to everyone for getting it done in spite of the circumstances. A special thank you to:

    • The 2022 Board of Directors for pitching in when there was no one else to do the work: Kim Newell, Rachel Fletcher, Grace Reff, Lewis Mabon, Andrew Bodjanac, Keaven Willa Hartt, Manda Marie, and Kevin Fuller.
    • Our remaining 2022 volunteers who gave their time toward our mission: Jeanne Henzel, Ruti Wajnberg, Audrey Lonsway, Angela Dreis, Debbie Lousberg, Debby Albrecht, Carla Pyle, Sue Sifakis, Amber Robertson, Sarah Linde, and Laura Archer - THANK YOU.

    Our 2022 volunteers and board members picked up the slack when others stepped down - and they are tired. It takes a COMMUNITY to run an association of our size, and we need help! We are looking for volunteers to serve on committees or take on single projects. The average volunteer commitment is just 2-3 hours per month.

    I want to help, but I don’t have the technical or business skills to be useful.

    Many of our volunteer projects don’t require any special skills. Maybe you’re good at crafting emails, or picking up the phone and talking to people, or using search engines to do research…or perhaps you have a strong social network and can spread the word. Let’s chat and find out what projects you’re most passionate about and where you feel you can make the most impact!

    Volunteering is also a great way to network. If you are a new upholsterer looking to make connections, or a seasoned one looking to broaden your network, this is a fabulous opportunity. There’s an old saying that you get out what you put in, and I can personally attest that becoming a volunteer with the NUA has opened professional doors I never knew existed!

    Here are just a few areas where we’re looking for help. Have another idea about how you can support the industry? We’re all ears! Apply here to become a volunteer.

    • Volunteer recruitment (our most immediate need!)
    • Committee leadership (all committees)
    • Regional events coordination
    • Blog writing and curation
    • Mentorship program development and administration
    • Online library organization
    • Website updates and overall organization
    • Calendar updates - webinars, NUA events, Industry Partner and Educator events, etc.
    • Contests, grants, and scholarships curation
    • Industry Partners and Educators liaison
    • Connecting upholsterers and interior designers
    • Developing an apprenticeship readiness plan for workrooms
    • Negotiating member discounts
    • Securing sponsorships for events
    • Business education
    • Promoting reupholstery as an intrinsic component of the circular economy

    Are you already working towards the betterment of our trade? The National Upholstery Association also seeks to amplify the accomplishments of our members and to connect them to resources that aid in their success. If you’ve begun your own project or entrepreneurial endeavor to strengthen the upholstery industry, we’d love to hear about it!

    In closing, I truly believe that 2023 will be a watershed year for our association. We have some incredible projects on the horizon - projects that will have a lasting impact on our industry. We just need a handful of enthusiastic volunteers to help bring these projects to life. Please join us on our mission to strengthen the industry by supporting the National Upholstery Association in any way that you can: by becoming a member, renewing your membership, inviting others to join, buying some swag from our online shop, spreading the word about the NUA, or rolling up your sleeves and volunteering on a project or committee.

    Warmest wishes for a prosperous new year,

    Harmony Maraldo
    President, National Upholstery Association 2022/2023

  • January 17, 2023 8:46 AM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    By Amy Petersen, CPA, aka “The Recovering Accountant” 

    Important:  This article is meant to provide general information regarding taxes for US-based upholstery businesses.  Every situation is different.  Consult a tax advisor for more information regarding your specific circumstances.  

    Yes, it’s that time of year referred to as “tax season” in the USA.  The federal income tax filing deadlines are quickly approaching: 

    • March 15, 2023, for Partnerships (Form 1065), S Corporations (Form 1120S), and C Corporations (Form 1120) 
    • April 18, 2023, for Individuals, including Sole Proprietors (Schedule C).  (We get a few extra days this year for the weekend and the DC holiday, Emancipation Day—yay!) 

    Note:  Check your individual state’s Department of Revenue (or similar) website for filing deadlines, as your state may not follow Federal deadlines 

    I would like to suggest that all of us upholstery business owners start working on our taxes sooner than later.  Like now.  Block off the time on your calendar, chain yourself to your desk, hire help, do whatever you need to do!   

    “Why should I start thinking about taxes now?  It’s still months away!” 

    The sooner your taxes are filed, the sooner you get your refund!  Or, if you’re going to owe, the sooner you file (or at least have a draft of your tax return prepared) the earlier you’ll know what that number is, and the longer you’ll have to save up for that bill.   

    If you’re using an accountant to prepare your taxes, the sooner you have your information to him/her, the better the chance that they will not have to file an extension for you.  Extension calculations take time to prepare, and time=money. 

    Either way, you’ll sleep better once you have them done.  Guaranteed. 

    “Oh my gosh!  Where do I even start?” 

    In an ideal world, you are using QuickBooks or another accounting program, you are keeping accurate books, your bank accounts and credit cards are reconciled for 2022, and you’re ready to go! 

    Most of us don’t live in an ideal world.   

    If you are using an accounting program, it’s time to review your data, enter missing information, and reconcile your accounts through the end of 2022.   

    If you haven’t looked at a single number all year, don’t panic, but get busy gathering and organizing your income and expense numbers.  Build a spreadsheet using your bank and credit card statements, receipts, and other paperwork.  Categorize your expenses in a reasonable way.  Use your prior year taxes for a starting point for categories, look at the lines on the forms, or let TurboTax suggest groupings for you.  And don’t be afraid to create “other” categories that fit your individual business.   

    “What if I’m forgetting something?” 

    If you are using one bank account and one credit card for your business, and not co-mingling your personal expenses with your business expenses, no worries!  All the money in and out for your business (with a few exceptions) will be found on those statements.  If not, please consider making this a 2023 New Year’s Resolution: “I will only use my business accounts for business expenses, and I will only use my personal accounts for personal expenses.” 

    If you’ve been using various personal accounts for business deposits and expenses, it’s going to take a while to sort through the statements, plus any other paperwork you have that supports the numbers.  It’s a good idea to start now.   

    Here are some deductions that probably aren’t going to be run through your business accounts:   

    • Business use of the home.  Is your workroom in your basement, dining room, or other part of your home?  Then you will get a deduction for it based on a percentage of all your home expenses, or a simpler method of $5/square foot.    

    • Mileage.  Do you drive to clients, or to your supplier, or anywhere else business-related?  If you have tracked those trips on a log, with an app, or in your calendar, you can take a deduction.  For 2022, that deduction is 58.5 cents per mile for the first half and 62.5 cents for the second half, which adds up fast!  

    • Cell Phone and Internet.  If you use your cell phone and internet for business (don’t we all?), then take a deduction for the portion that is business related.  Do your best to estimate this portion.   

    “There’s no way I’m going to be ready to file my taxes on time.  Now what?” 

    About 1 in every 10 taxpayers files an extension, and most of them are business owners.  It’s OK! 

    Here’s the important thing to remember about extensions:  They are an extension to file, NOT an extension to pay.  So based on last year, or the information that you do have pulled together, or (worst case) your gut, if you think you’re going to owe taxes, pay something into the IRS/state with your extension.   

    What are the consequences of not paying an extension payment?  Once you file your taxes (no later than October 15th, 2023), you will most likely owe 0.5% percent of the amount due for every month or part of the month (even one day) past the April 18th deadline, plus interest on the amount due (currently at an annual rate of 7.0%), calculated on a daily basis.    

    Please don’t blow off the extension.  The late filing penalties (you file after April 18th, owe taxes, and didn’t file an extension) are much higher than the late payment penalties outlined above, usually 5% per month or part of a month, plus interest. This is 10x the late payment penalties! 

    One more thought about extensions:  If you file one, try not to wait until the extended due date of October 15th (for individuals and sole proprietors) to file your tax return.  Do it as soon as you can.  Your accountant will thank you and you’ll sleep better! 

    Note:  Many, but not all, states accept the Federal extension as an extension of the state taxes, too.  Check with your Department of Revenue (or similar) or accountant to see if you need to file a separate state extension. 

    “What if I can’t pay?” 

    It happens.  If your business is new, or you made more money than you thought you did, or whatever the reason, you may owe more than you can pay.  The IRS (and most states) are happy to set you up on a payment plan.  The interest rates are less than putting this obligation on a credit card, and the terms are set up for you to succeed in paying it off.  If you file your tax return and can’t pay the amount due, you can be proactive and set up a payment plan (see, or you can wait for the IRS to send you a bill and “invite” you to set up a payment plan. 

    “Is there anything good about tax season?” 

    Yes!  Seeing your business profit to the point of owing taxes means that you are making money doing something that you love!

  • January 06, 2023 3:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    In November 2022, the National Upholstery Association held our second annual Pricing Survey, where we asked respondents how much they charge for various upholstery services. Our questions were weighted toward residential upholstery services, though several questions applied to commercial, marine, and other specialties as well.

    The survey collected data from 218 US-based upholsterers and workrooms, nearly equal to the 215 responses we collected in 2021. We chose to keep the questions identical to last year’s survey, as we wanted to accurately compare prices year-over-year.

    A few key insights include:

    • Year-over-year, the price of upholstery services as surveyed increased by 8.2%. Over the same period of time, the US inflation rate was 7.1%.*
    • Out of 22 services surveyed, 2 services yielded overall median prices lower than 2021. All other individual services saw increases of 0% to 18%.
    • There is currently no official pricing standard for residential upholstery. Some upholsterers charge by the piece, others by the hour, some by the inch/foot/percentage, etc. We received several comments from respondents noting that they price differently than surveyed.

    Click the button below to view the results. You must be a member of the National Upholstery Association to access this data. Results are presented in a dynamic visual format, allowing the viewer to filter results by geographic area, service area size, and shop size.

    Survey Results

    This year we received a few inquiries about our decision to restrict the survey to US-based upholsterers. This is a fair question, as our member base includes Canadian workrooms. We considered opening the survey to all; however, this came with a couple tricky issues. First, Canada and the US have different currencies with ever-changing exchange rates. And second, we have only a handful of Canadian members, so even if we surveyed them as a separate group, the survey would yield too few data points to return meaningful insights. We may find a way to solve this challenge in the future, but in the meantime, if you are one of our valued Canadian members, our best advice is to filter the results by a metro area most similar to yours and then do the currency conversion to compare pricing in your area.

    If you are not a member of the National Upholstery Association, please consider joining! Membership gets you access to the pricing survey results, as well as other exclusive benefits. Check out our Membership Overview page for details.

  • January 01, 2023 12:00 PM | Harmony Maraldo (Administrator)

    The NUA is proud to introduce you to the newest faces of the Board at Large for the 2023-2024 years! Board members freely give their time to collaborate with each other, Executive Officers, and volunteers to keep NUA running strong. The NUA is lucky to have a dedicated group to address the needs of the organization and its members. Learn more about our Board here, and please join us in welcoming our newest members!

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