A weblog about theatrical drapery and stage curtains for Production Managers, Set Designers, Custom Drapery Resellers, and local/school/church Productions
We are continuously looking for ways to improve our company websites, to make them more user-friendly, informational, and inspirational. Over the years, we have made many changes and improvements, but I have to say, the latest improvement to the Rent What? website is one of the most exciting – video!
Videos are now available on each of our Drapery Collections pages. In addition to scrolling through a selection of still images on the page, the viewer also has the option to click on the video player to view a short video highlighting the drapery collection. We hope that this addition provides our website visitors with an even more informative and inspirational experience when visiting our site.
To view the videos, visit our website here and click on any of the Drapery Collections pages.
Regular readers of this blog may recall that, back in November, we were excited to report that an article on Sew What? Inc., titled “The Backdrop Shop,” had been published in the print edition of Entrepreneur magazine. The latest news? A version of the article was recently picked up for the magazine’s online edition, in the “Business Unusual” section.
The online article tells the story of the origin of Sew What? Inc. as well as it’s growth and evolution over the years. I think you’ll enjoy reading the article, do so by visiting Entrepreneur here.
As with all small privately owned businesses, the question inevitably comes up – “What will be our corporate legacy and who will be the next generation?” We are approaching 17 years since incorporation (impressive in and of itself) – and in fact it would be 21 years since I started sewing for the entertainment industry on the kitchen table……….
WOW – how time flies! (when you are having “sew-much” fun)
While it seems way too soon to make any assumptions – I wanted to share this fun photo of our William. He chose to take some time to stop at a “Making Fabric” display while taking a tour at Buckingham Palace over the summer last year. We are hoping with his interest in both science and mathematics that he might one day find fascination in the field of smart/intelligent fabric development. Leaders in this relatively new field are making impressive strides in the areas of self-cooling, heat-generating, breathable and antimicrobial textiles.
Amongst our 35 employees we have many kids of varying ages – and more than likely some of them will join us for a summer or two of employment, as many have done before. Hope that we can inspire them to be creative and open up some opportunities for them thru what we do and what we have learned over the years.
Here’s to the next generation of “Whatters?”. Who’s next?
This month, our company press release focused on the efforts of Megan Duckett, Sew What? and Rent What? president, to inspire budding entrepreneurs, whether they be young children, teens, or adults. Regular readers of this blog may recall Marianne’s post in December, Inspiring Young Girls with Entrepreneurial Spirit, which described the visit of a Brownie troop to Sew What?
The press release goes further to describe not only the Brownie visit, but other ways that Megan is focusing on working with others to inspire entrepreneurship. If you’d like to read the full press release, visit the press room of our website. You can also read it in the “Industry News” section of Specialty Fabrics Review.
Es difícil de creer, pero 2013 ha terminado, y con la temporada navideña llegó el momento para reflexionar sobre el año pasado.
Celebramos el año pasado nuestro 16 aniversario en el negocio como Sew What? Desde los primeros días de vuelta en el garaje, cortar la tela en las tablas del suelo de roble y quitando la cena de la mesa para hacer espacio para la máquina de coser de hecho, hemos recorrido un largo camino. Con nosotros tantas caras conocidas-empleados del comienzo y los clientes y proveedores por igual. Por ese solo hecho estamos en deuda con los que nos rodean, que nos han ayudado a crecer y nos apoyó a través de nuestras muchas etapas. Calle Madison en un acogedor espacio de 800 pies cuadrados, Vermont ave. en un funcional 6.000 pies cuadrados, y aquí en la calle Gladwick en nuestro propio 15.000 pies cuadrados de lujo y expresión concreta a los que se han trasladado con nosotros a través de los años … ¡Gracias!
Ha habido una gran energía entre el recién rebautizado “Whatter’s?, Como lo hemos hecho grandes avances para mezclar nuestros procesos de venta y alquiler. Rent What? Ha pasado de ser una empresa independiente para una que está más integrada en la Familia Sew What? Estamos muy agradecidos a aquellos clientes que han abrazado nuestra “dualidad” y ahora disfrutar tanto de nuestra experiencia de alquiler, así como nuestra más conocida experiencia en ventas personalizadas.
Nuestro dar temporada siguió la tradición filantrópica anual. Sé que muchos de ustedes han sido afectados por el cáncer, ya sea para usted o su familia y amigos, así como yo he sido. En honor a mi madre Delice quienes perdimos en 2012, y todas las personas afectadas por el cáncer, hemos hecho una donación para apoyar la investigación del cáncer de la Sociedad Americana del Cáncer. Esperamos que nuestro regalo sea hacer una diferencia en la vida futura de las personas diagnosticadas con cáncer.
Todos aquí son excitados al comenzar el Año Nuevo, y esperamos con interés a todos los proyectos desafiantes e interesantes que están por venir. ¡Esperamos que todos hayan tenido unas maravillosas fiestas y les deseo un exitoso 2014!
Recently we were tickled pink to host Girl Scout Brownie Troop 15445, a troop of about 10 entrepreneurial and intelligent second-grade girls, sponsored by the Torrance YMCA. Megan Duckett, our President and CEO, gave these interested and energetic girls (along with several mom troop leaders) a tour around our facility, including offices and warehouse, showing them everything from how to design their own drape, to how the material gets chosen, cut, and sewn together, and finally how the finished drape looks once hung and displayed.
We loved being able to show these girls what a successful, “Made in America”, and female-owned-and-operated company looks like and what they can all aspire to become. We wish them the very best with all of their upcoming Girl Scout adventures, and look forward to seeing their entrepreneurial endeavors in years to come!
It’s hard to believe, but 2013 nears its close, and with the holiday season comes time to reflect on the year past.
We celebrated this year our 16th anniversary in business as Sew What? From those early days back in the garage, cutting fabric on the oak floorboards and shuffling the dinner off the table to make room for the sewing machine – indeed we have come a very long way. With us are so many familiar faces – employees from the onset and clients and vendors alike. For that fact alone we are indebted to those around us who have helped us grow and supported us through our many stages. Madison Street in a cozy 800 sq ft space, Vermont Avenue in a functional 6000 sq ft, and here on Gladwick Street in our very own luxurious and practical 15,000 sq ft. To those who have moved with us through the years…. thank you!
There has been great energy amongst the newly renamed “Whatter’s?, as we have made great strides to blend our sales and rental processes. Rent What? has transitioned from a standalone corporation to one that is more integrated within the Sew What? family. We are so thankful to those clients who have embraced our “duality” and now enjoy both our rental experience as well as our better known custom sales experience.
Our seasonal giving follows our annual philanthropic tradition. I know that many of you have been touched by cancer, either yourself, or your family and friends, just as I have been. In honor of my mother Delice whom we lost last year, and all those affected by cancer, we have made a donation to support cancer research with the American Cancer Society. We hope that our gift will make a difference in the future lives of those diagnosed with cancer.
All of us here look forward to the New Year, and all the challenging and interesting projects that are to come. We wish all of you a wonderful holiday season and a successful 2014!
‘Tis the season to spread merriment and joy with those around you, and NO ONE knows how to spread the joy better than Sew What? and Rent What?, especially when a party is involved! This year we had our annual Holiday Fiesta a little earlier in the season than we normally do, which really helped all of us get into a fantastically festive holiday spirit!
Starting off our party with some delicious catered Italian favorites, everyone got to devour the scrumptious pasta and salads to their hearts’ content. But we didn’t sit for too long, because we had the most invigorating and boot-scootin’ dance party arranged by our wonderful DJ Michael from Ovation Entertainment, who always puts us in a dancing mood at all of our events. Offering everybody great party favors and loads of fun props always helps everyone feel extra silly, and no one gets us all to start dancing like crazy in front of the entire staff quite like Michael does! With games such as an extremely competitive limbo contest, then a company-wide “musical chairs”, to our “who can last the longest while dancing the most insanely energetic line dancing imaginable” contest, he had us dancing and running around and limbo-ing until we were absolutely exhausted.
We always look forward to these memorable and hysterically fun parties that the company throws for us for so many great occasions, but the annual Holiday Party is definitely one of our very favorites. We are proving time and time again that we are definitely a “family of Whatters”, and these fun and fabulous parties really help remind everyone that the work we all do is appreciated by management, which is always a great reason to celebrate!
Everyone at Sew What? and Rent What? wants to wish you and your loved ones a very Happy Holiday Season, and a prosperous and healthy New Year!
We have blogged before about the “kabuki drop” – that seemingly magical trick in which a backdrop is hanging proud and then, in the blink of an eye, is gone from sight. It is one of those stage tricks that looks so amazing but is actually simple to achieve, and can be used with nearly any stage backdrop, whether it be a digitally printed scenic backdrop or a simple White Poly Muslin Backdrop. All that is needed to made a backdrop “kabuki-ready” is to have a top finish with loop (“soft” or “female”) velcro on both sides, along with removable D-Rings with hook (“hard” or “male” velcro).
The trickier part for the smaller band or event production team has been the release mechanism part of the trick. In order to accomplish a true kabuki drop (as opposed to a manual tear-a-way), special hardware (called a solenoid system) is required. Large music staging and touring companies have used these systems for years, but smaller bands and event production companies, who aren’t as familiar with the systems, may find them intimidating.
Let me assure you, they are anything but intimidating, especially when packed as an “all-in-one” easy to install Kabuki Drop Kit. I speak from personal experience as one who would never be described as mechanically inclined!
I have been familiar with solenoid systems for years, since I joined Sew What? about ten years ago. I understood the basic idea behind them but, to be honest, as my role is primarily office-based, I didn’t know all of the specifics of the systems and had never actually installed one. That all changed earlier this week, when Rick Garcia, our General Operations Manager, gave a brief lesson to the “office folk” on our rental Kabuki Drop Kits. Some people at the lesson knew solenoids backwards and forwards and had even installed them many times in the past, and so for them, this was simply a refresher. But for others (like myself) who knew the concept in theory but had never actually installed a solenoid system before, this was an eye-opening experience.
The lesson began with a 20 minute presentation in which Rick gave us all reference sheets with the details on all the components of the Kabuki Drop Kit, complete with installation diagrams, component photos, and specs. The fun part began after the presentation. Rick had set up two stations in the warehouse, each with its own section of truss and 6-head Kabuki Drop Kit. Individually, we each went down to the warehouse and were tasked with attaching the kabuki heads to a truss, ensuring the heads were connected properly to each other and to the power supply via the included cables, attaching the power supply to the remote control, pushing the remote button to perform an actual kabuki drop, and disassembling the system and repacking it in the road case. Each person did this independently without help from Rick, based solely on our prior knowledge plus what we had learned in the 20 minute presentation.
It was so much fun, and really so easy! I was able to install a full 6-head system (enough for a 20′ wide backdrop) in ten minutes from start to finish. So, believe me, if I can do it, you can do it!
So, if you are thinking “wow, I’d love to do a kabuki drop at my next event,” don’t hesitate! Our Kabuki Drop Kits are available for rent, and they can be used with your own existing backdrop, a new custom backdrop from Sew What?, or one of our rental backdrops.
Want to learn more? Our Kabuki Drop Kits were recently featured in the newsroom at PLSN (Projection, Lights and Staging News).
About a month or so ago, Megan was contacted by folks over at Inc Magazine (you know, the terrific mag for business that sponsors the “Inc 500/5000” awards each year). They were partnering with Cox Business on an event series called Get Started. The first two events were held earlier in the year (Oklahoma City and Connecticut). The next would be here in Southern California (in Orange County, as it happens), and they asked Megan if she would participate.
In times past, Megan has been a speaker at a variety of events for Inc Magazine and other organizations, but this gig had a twist. ”Get Started O.C.” would take the form of a “pitch” session, in which representatives from five local small businesses would “pitch” their product / company to four judges, with an audience composed of local business people. After all the pitches, the judges would vote, and the winner would receive a $10,000 prize package from Cox Business. Megan agreed to be a judge, and she suggested that I might want to attend the event as well.
The event was this past Tuesday Oct 22, and it was both fun and inspiring. The venue for the event was the Marconi Automotive Museum. What a cool venue, and how great that it was created to fund a charitable foundation to help at-risk kids!
The four judges included Megan, Lindsay Blakely (Inc Magazine editor), Mari Smith (author and social media coach), and Dave Berkus (investment “angel”). Each person pitching was giving about 2 minutes to tell the judges (and audience) about themselves, their company, and their product. The judges then had 5 minutes to question that person for further clarification, before time was up and it was the next person’s turn.
Photo Courtesy Justin DeFreece, Inc. Magazine
It was quite interesting to hear each person’s pitch, but it was also fascinating to hear the questions and comments from the judges. Mari Smith focused on questions related to social media marketing, Dave Berkus asked the “hard hitting” financial questions, Megan’s questions tended to lead toward manufacturing logistics, and Lindsay asked more general business-related questions. Quite fascinating to hear the different perspectives.
Photo Courtesy Justin DeFreece, Inc. Magazine
Once all five candidates had “pitched,” the judges votes were tallied, and the winner was announced – Post Op Tops, a company that makes comfortable apparel for post-operative breast cancer survivors.
This really was a fun and informative event – a bit like television’s “Shark Tank,” but much more supportive in tone! If you are interested in attending a Get Started event and live in the Providence Rhode Island area, there is an one coming up there next week – Get Started R.I.
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