The story I’m about to tell you is true and I feel blessed that I can share it with you. When I first opened my drapery workroom in 1991, I loved it. By 2002, the company had grown to 13 employees and I was working 12-hour days almost seven days a week. It soon played a big part in my family life. Donna, my wife, was a stay-home mother who took care of our two children while I was at work. The pressure of the business and the hours were starting to affect us. Soon I had no life and I was starting to hate myself because of that.
I was a true work-alcoholic. I had created so much business; there was so much paperwork, so many bills, pressure from the employees and pressure from the designers to meet their needs that I was pleasing them more than my family and myself.
On December 22, 2002, my life took a turn when my wife of 19 years and her sister were killed in an automobile accident. I was now faced with raising my children alone. I tried many babysitters and day-care facilities; it was taking a toll on the children because I was always at work.
In April 2004, I closed my workroom and sold my equipment. I seized the opportunity to write a drapery reference manual and study guide. I had always felt it was necessary, but missing, in the industry. This allowed me more flexible time for my children. In February 2005, I published two books, The Ultimate Designers Workbook and Study Guide for The Ultimate Designers Workbook.
Over the years, I have noticed that many designers did not know the business rules when it came to making their treatments. Every job I quoted came from a magazine or sketch and, therefore, was very difficult to quote labor. In some cases, the design was custom and would require a sample of the treatment first. If the design came from a hand sketch and was unusual, then I was the only one who could quote it. It was getting very hard to train someone to quote jobs, as there was no specification manual available. That’s when I started thinking that there needs to be a catalog of standard treatments that designers could look though and select from.
A specification manual would eliminate some of the communication difficulties between the client, the designer and the workroom. It also would create a reference guide for novice and experienced sewers and designers. Along with the efforts of the Window Coverings Association of America (WCAA), this guide would help create standardization within the industry and that is why I created my first two books.
INSPIRATION FOR THIRD BOOK
As Glenn and I continued to market the first two books, we heard a lot of designers and vendors say, “You’ve got to get this information into colleges,” so that is what we did. We contacted Bev Moriarty who teaches at Arapahoe Community College, Denver, CO. Bev was kind enough to sit down with us and tell us what she wanted in a teacher’s textbook. She informed us that we would need to have the book completed by July 1, 2006, to meet fall classes.
We then contacted Barbara Talmadge, another experienced soft treatment veteran, to be co-author. Helen Bell, another dear friend who happened to have editing experience, agreed to act as chief editor. Since the new book required more illustrations, I needed a greater understanding of the illustration process, so I went back to school to learned Adobe Illustrator.
While working on this project, the challenges that life tosses you struck again. Both my mother and Barbara’s mother died within a month of each other. While their deaths shook and saddened us, they gave us strength and determination to finish the writing. Both of these women had been longtime drapery seamstresses, taught us much of the trade, and would have wanted this work to be completed for the betterment of the industry.
While at school to learn Adobe Illustrator, I learned that the teacher of the class, Floyd Chapman, had recently lost his mother in an auto accident and his father had died only four years ago. Knowing Floyd’s pain, I comforted him in his sorrow and in return he generously volunteered the cover design for the book.
The kindness and caring that has come together to make this project come to life is incredible. Much of the work you see has been accomplished through the work of volunteers with only a few exceptions. Graphic artists, Tara Lindsay and Duncan McPherson, worked tirelessly and committed to meeting our deadline.
I believe you manifest what you want out of life. There is nothing that will stop you from reaching your goals other than your own fear and how you think in your head.
Precision Draperies Education
Glenn Axelson is vice president, marketing and sales.