- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
On the job with ... Amy Henley, sewing store owner
All in the family: The Henley family is living in a material world.
No, they aren’t backup singers for Madonna. They run the Material Girls Quilt Boutique in La Plata, a business that not only sells products for quilts, but teaches sewing, repairs sewing machines and provides space for people to explore their sewing interests.
The store’s owner, Amy Henley, said the business started nine years ago as a family venture, an idea from her mother, Robin Henley.
“It was a new thing for all of us,” Amy said.
Amy’s sister, Wendy Badgley, teaches sewing and runs the cash register while her mother does the bookkeeping and sales side of the business.
Amy also teaches sewing.
Even though each woman in the family has her speciality, Wendy said, “We all do everything.”
Amy’s father, Mike Henley, repairs Bernina sewing machines and the store also sells the Swiss-made machines.
“Being a family business, it helps our customers feel like they’re a part of a family,” Amy said.
Being family members, “we know each other very well. We work to our strengths better than if we weren’t related. We help customers to be a part of that,” Amy said.
More than a quilt shop: Although the letters above the store label Material Girls a quilt shop, there’s a lot more to the business than selling material for quilts.
The store has expanded significantly since it opened in 2003, going from about 1,000 square feet to 8,000 square feet of floor area.
In addition to offering about 3,000 varieties of colorful material the store also sells knitting supplies, ribbons, felt and other sewing accessories, Amy said.
One of the main activities at the business, however, is teaching sewing.
The store holds about 40 classes every three months, with about two or three sessions per class, Amy said. The sessions are once a week for two hours.
Wendy and Amy are two of several teachers for sewing classes. Some of the teachers were once students of the sisters, Wendy said.
Up to 18 people can be in each class, which serves all skill levels, Amy said. Students can learn a variety of skills, from sewing T-shirt quilts to making clothes or even creating pincushions.
“They leave with a finished product. The goal is to have it done by the end of classes,” Amy said.
The store also has an open house once a month to allow customers to sew and socialize, Amy said.
Customers also can rent space to sew their projects at the Sew-ology Lounge. Although the room is not 100 percent complete, 10 machines are available for rental for those who need them, she said.
Fun place to sew: Amy said the business has plans to offer baby showers that focus on making crafts, and also make Material Girls a place for birthday parties. Another goal is to get the Sew-ology Lounge up and running.
“We just want to be a fun place full of inspiration,” she said.
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