You already know that I consider every one of you as precious wheat. Now, for the first time, you will be able to separate yourselves from the chaff and tell the world you are indeed professional window coverings fabricators. All those other seamstresses who make draperies, but do not continually educate themselves on proper and new techniques will remain seamstresses.
CERTIFIED WORKROOM PROFFESSIONAL
This month, at the SewWhat? Workroom Educational Conference, the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA) will unveil its long-awaited Certified Workroom Professional program.
Those of us on the WCAA board, and those members who also worked on this program, are so proud and excited we could pop! It has taken two years of very long hours and dedication by many very passionate and determined people to put this program together. We all had a dream, and we never let setbacks take our eyes off that dream.
The greatest credit goes to Ethel Mahon, who has authored The Encyclopedia of Fabrications, the textbook to be used for the program. Remember Ethel? She wrote columns to fill in for me in January and February of this year. (See D&WC, January, 2001 ; February, 2001) Ethel is a veteran in the industry, who started as a one-person business in her home and grew to employ 18. She has firsthand knowledge from the Sewing School of Hard Knocks. She shares many personal experiences in such a warm, friendly and funny way, that it is a true joy to read the book. Plus her misadventures will make her lessons memorable.
Ethel spent many hours researching and collecting information for The Encyclopedia of Fabrications, not to mention the time spent writing, lining up artists, printers, etc. to get this book done. She welcomed and solicited input from the WCAA committee the whole way through to be sure she was writing it in compliance with their standards. She did all this while working a full-time job along with many of life's setbacks that we all have. Everybody in this industry should give her a big hug and a thank-you for all the work and love she has put into this book! The whole industry has begged for such a book for many years, and it is now here.
This program will be very basic—Certification101. It is a prerequisite to taking the second level that will be more advanced. Its release is to be announced at a later date. (Ethel has to have a rest!) The Encyclopedia of Fabrications is a loose-leaf three-ring binder with dividers so it is easy to use and to add to. The next book will have advanced techniques to be added into existing tabbed sections. It also makes it easy to add your own collection of information.
The topics covered in this course are:
1.Setting Up Your Own Business. This section covers pricing, marketing, insurance, workroom layout, investment in equipment and much more. It contains a phenomenal amount of information never collected into one book before.
2.The Basics. This section covers bedding, textile information, hardware, installation, safety standards and more.
3.Soft Furnishings (accessories). This is a how-to section covering bedspreads and accessories, pillows, trims and more.
4.Window Treatments. Learn the how-to's for rod pocket, pinch pleat and shirr tape headings as well as how to fabricate shades and top treatments.
5.Upholstery. This section covers cushions, cornice boards and headboards.
6.Industry Resources. This is an invaluable section in which you will find the wholesale suppliers you need to enable you to be more successful. Believe it or not, there will be actual samples of supplies.
The above just scratches the surface of what is covered in The Encyclopedia of Fabrications. This book is actually six books in one! Be assured a committee of professionals in the fabrication industry has approved the material in this book. The in-depth business information will enable you to truly operate as a respected and professional business. The fabrication instructions are tried and trusted custom procedures. You will no longer have to wonder how a real professional fabricates the items in this book. Although there are many other methods that are just as successful as these, you will know that these instructions can be trusted to give you a true custom product.
How many times have you and your customers been talking about different products but using the same name? How many times have you used terminology that someone else had a different word for? How often have you wondered if your fabrication procedures were truly custom? I expect each of you would answer "Too numerous to count!" to each question.
Believe it or not, now everybody (the wheat that is) will be on the same page. The most phenomenal thing to come out of the Certified Workroom Professional program is standardization of acceptable minimal quality standards for workrooms, names for treatments (long overdue!) and standard definitions for terminology. All of this has been approved by WCAA and is in the textbook.
The bonus is that WCAA is also launching its own book of standardization at the Workroom Educational Conference this month. This book will be available for purchase by all with no enrollment in a certification program required. This means that now workrooms, designers and vendors alike can all start using the same terminology. This book will be the industry's dictionary. The launch of this book will be the first time any such effort at standardization has been undertaken in this country, and maybe in the world. But remember, it's up to you "wheats" to use the proper terminology and to educate others so this process of getting the industry on the same track can move faster.
Studying and taking the test for this certification will not only give you a greater sense of confidence, but your certificate will tell your clients, your friends and your relatives that you are truly a professional business. You will know what is accepted in the window coverings industry where other non-professionals will not.
The more of you that become certified, the more rapid will be the growth in elevating the respectability of the fabricator, which translates into greater income! If you don't become certified, then you will start losing customers and clients to those who are certified. Customers are more educated today and they want the best! If education is available and you choose not to partake, then you are not a serious business owner.
From the beginning, it was our goal to make this a complete and intensive program that would have real meat and be meaningful. We all believe we have accomplished that. I encourage every one of you, WCAA members and non-members, to invest in this program and become a Certified Workroom Professional.
The great and admired Thomas Jefferson said, "Never fear the want of business. A man who qualifies himself well for his calling never fails of employment."
The first certification test will be given October 26 to 28 at the Boston Curtain & Drapery show in Providence, RI. Choose to be wheat and sign up now to be among the first graduates to give the workroom industry the status it deserves. Contact WCAA at (888) 298-9222; email@example.com; www.wcaa.org.
When you have the opportunity, please take the time to thank the WCAA members and board members and our executive director, Mark Nortman, for making this program possible. Especially thank Ethel Mahon, the author of The Encyclopedia of Fabrications. If not for her dedication and many, many long hours of blood, sweat and tears researching and writing this book, this program could not be possible. Ethel, our industry is forever indebted to you. Thank you!
Kitty Stein, WCAA, is a 20-year veteran of the drapery workroom field, having owned and operated her own business for 18 years and having taught classes on window treatment construction. Until 1990, Stein and a partner owned a workroom with nine employees. She since has opened her own smaller workroom, Workroom Concepts, that has just one employee. She also does workroom consulting, seminar speaking and is the author of Order in the Workroom available through Draperies & Window Coverings and Price Your Work With Confidence.