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Monthly Archives: October 2009

15 10, 2009

A Family Business

By |October 15th, 2009|Authors, Company|1 Comment

I have always loved to cook (my mother taught herself to cook watching Julia Child and then taught me starting at about 5).  When I was in my early twenties, I dreamed of owning my own restaurant, so I went to culinary school to become a chef and study restaurant management.  When I got out and started to work in the industry, I realized how hard the life of a chef is, especially a chef-restauranteur.  Working 18 hours a day, 6 days a week (or more) – and, as the restaurant owner, everything is on your shoulders.  Fairly quickly I set that dream aside and pursued other goals.  But I have always recognized that it takes a special kind of person to own and run a small business.  Megan and Adam Duckett are two of them.

Throughout this blog, there are bits and pieces of the company’s history (both from Megan and from myself), but I realize that many readers may not realize that the owners are actually a married couple.  While Megan started the company on her kitchen table, her husband Adam (also a former roadie) later joined the company.  In terms of roles, Megan is President and focuses primarily on marketing and sales, while Adam serves as Chief Financial Officer with a focus on production and operations.

I have so much admiration for the two of them, that they have built this company to its current level, and that they continue to strive for growth and improvement.  Running a small business takes a lot of hard work and dedication – and sometimes it means being here late into the night or throughout the weekend.  Anyone who can manage to maintain that level of dedication throughout the years and still be excited and inspired for growth definitely deserves accolades. 

Add marriage and parenthood to the mix, and in my mind, it is even more impressive.  Most couples spend their days apart, and then come together at home in the evening and on weekends.  Megan and Adam are, for the most part, together 24/7, between work and personal time (oh – not literally – but you get the picture).  That can be stressful for a couple – but somehow they manage to make it work.

Maybe someday I’ll be ready to own my own business (don’t ask me what kind of business – definitely not a restaurant!), maybe I never will.  But if I do, I hope I do half as good a job as Megan and Adam have done (and continue to do) here at Sew What?

Note: There was a terrific story about them published in the “Palos Verdes Peninsula News” a few years ago – check it out in the Sew What? News Archive – I think you’ll find it an inspiring story.

13 10, 2009

Focus On: Austrian and Braille Curtains

By |October 13th, 2009|Education, Products|0 Comments

Austrian and Braile Curtains are generally used as Front Curtains (aka Main or Act Curtains), when theatre personnel would like to fly the Main Curtain but have little or no loft space. 

When a traditional backdrop or curtain is flown into the loft, an amount of loft space in excess of the height of the curtain (plus the batten or whatever it is hung on) is required.  For example, a curtain that is 20 feet high might require at least 21 or 22 feet of loft space, or even more, depending on the sight line of the audience.  In the case of an Austrian or Braille, however, the drape gathers upon itself as it opens, requiring little space in the loft – when in the full open (raised) position, it can easily be hidden behind a proscenium or border, taking up very little loft space.

Through the use of a series of lift lines on the back of the curtain, the Austrian or Braille is raised and lowered, with the bottom of the curtain drawing up against itself as it makes its way to the top.  This is similar to the Contour Curtain.  However, in the case of the Contour Curtain, differing amounts of lift are used on the liftlines, giving the curtain the contoured effect.  With an Austrian, equal amounts of lift are given to all of the lift lines, so that the entire curtain raises and lowers in a smooth, fast, and even fashion.

What is the difference between an Austrian and a Braille?  Both use the same lift line system, and both raise and lower in the same manner.  The difference is in the fullness and how the drape appears in the lowered (closed) position.  When down, a Braille Curtain resembles a regular curtain with fullness (similar to a pleated traveller curtain).  An Austrian, however, has additional horizontal fullness created by gathering the fabric along the vertical seams, creating a series of swags even when the drape is in the lowered position. 

Typical fabric choices include theatrical satin and silky chiffon.  Austrian and Braille Curtains required motorized rigging systems to allow the liftlines to be raised and lowered simultaneously in a quick and smooth fashion.

13 10, 2009

Featured in a Blog

By |October 13th, 2009|News|0 Comments

As I spend most of my blog time writing for this blog rather than reading other blogs, it was fun to get a Google Alert today showing that our company has been featured in the blog “Learn 2 Sew Florida.”

This looks like a fun and interesting blog about sewing – I am looking forward to reading it in more depth.

9 10, 2009

Focus On: Double Kabuki Drapes

By |October 9th, 2009|Education, Products|4 Comments

A couple of weeks, in my post on Single Kabuki Drapes, I promised that I would do another post on Double Kabukis.  Well, here you go!

A Single Kabuki allows a single release – the drape is hanging, the solenoids are released, and the kabuki drops to the ground.  With a Double Kabuki, through the use of either two sets of solenoids or one set in which each solenoid has two pins, a double release occurs.

Initially, the kabuki is not seen by the audience.  It is hanging high up near the truss, enclosed in what is called a diaper.  For the first release, the first set of solenoids (or one set of pins) is released, and the bottom of the Kabuki drops toward the stage, allowing the audience to see the Kabuki.   On the second release, the second set of solenoids (or pins) releases the top of the kabuki (and in some cases the diaper) , which then drops to the ground.

A Double Kabuki is made in a very similar way to a Single Kabuki, with velcro on the top front and back, but doesn’t have velcro on the bottom.  The major difference is that a Double Kabuki also includes a diaper. A diaper is a soft good that is sewn at the same width as the Kabuki, but is only around 24″ high (this can vary depending on the fabric used on the Kabuki as well as the height of the Kabuki).   The top of the diaper is attached to the top back of the Kabuki, between the fabric and the Velcro.  The bottom of the diaper has velcro on the front and back.

To set up the Double Release of the Kabuki, the Kabuki is laid flat, front side up.  It is then rolled from the bottom to the top, until it is encased in the diaper like a sling.  Velcro D-rings are then attached to the top of the Kabuki/Diaper and to the bottom of the diaper.  The Velcro D-Rings on the top of the Kabuki are hung on one set of solenoid pins and the Velcro D-rings on the bottom of the diaper are hung on the second set of solenoid pins, leaving the Kabuki hanging unseen in a hammock high above the stage.

For the first release, the pins holding the D-Rings attached to the bottom of the diaper retract.  This causes the bottom of the diaper to drop behind and the Kabuki to unroll toward the stage.  For the second release, the pins holding the D-rings attached to the top of the Kabuki/diaper retract, and the Kabuki drops to the stage floor.

When might a Double Kabuki be used rather than a Single Kabuki?  Well, let’s say that a band has a dramatic printed backdrop, but they don’t want it to hang for the entire show.  Instead, they want it to be used only for part of the show (maybe even for just one song).  The band can start the show without the backdrop.

When the desired time comes, the first release occurs and the printed backdrop suddenly appears as if from nowhere.  When the song or show section ends, the Kabuki then drops to the floor.

Another example of stage magic.  Pretty cool, don’t you think?

There’s one more related item, called the Poor Man’s Kabuki, but I’ll tell you about that in a future post.

8 10, 2009

Small Business Madness

By |October 8th, 2009|Authors, Company|0 Comments

Lately I have been feeling both humbled and thankful.   We have been busy selling.  Very busy.  While witnessing personal family friends relocate to Nebraska having lost both job and home, our team has worked extra hours on nights and weekends to keep up with client needs.  We are fortunate indeed.  Dedicated too – but I recognize that dedication is not enough.

It has prompted me to ask myself – what is the differentiator in a floundering economy that causes one business to fail while another finds growth?  Is there one single factor that assures measurable success?

What is it that keeps the phone ringing, and how do you keep vendor / client relations fresh? – is it just service?  Does knowing what you’re selling make any difference – or does price point seal all deals?  All clients needs are different.  So it is a function of understanding what is best for each and every project on a case by case basis.  There is no “one size fits all.”  And no one catalog or fabric swatch card to suit all needs.  While we are small, we are mighty in our ability to personalize our services…and turn on a dime.  I no longer think that “bigger is better” – rather, that “better is best.”

Like my parents told me, you can’t have your cake and eat it too – so invariably premium quality and low price don’t usually meet on a single contract.  But that seems to suit our clientele – we are not the low price leader – rather a supplier of premium products for clients wanting professionalism, quality, timeliness and value.

I am very thankful for the loyal clientele, many of whom we consider to be dear friends, who have brought their business to us over the years.  I along with all Americans hope that the economic climate continues to improve so that our family, friends, clients and vendors may all find growth and success in their chosen fields.