As of today, it has been four years since I purchased the shop. Time has seemed to fly by since then as I've learned the ropes of a business behind one of my favorite passions: sewing. We transformed the shop from its original form into a personal heaven; we've added thousands and thousands of yards of fabric, patterns, more notions, and added more classes to cover a wide range of sewing skills. I have loved (almost) every minute of it and it has been an honor to get to know each and every one of our customers and this sewing community. [Don't worry, this is not a goodbye letter! We aren't going anywhere anytime soon, we promise.]
It's almost unbelievable to think another year has passed. We'll call it like it is. Last year sucked. Big time sucked. We had a pipe burst on the SECOND DAY OF 2020-- what should have been an omen of what was to come. After several weeks of closing and reopening to repair the damage, we thought we could finally breathe again. Then we shut down.
On March 13, 2020, we sent all of our staff home for the "three-week Safer at Home" order. Hah. As regulations changed, case numbers climbed and declined, we were starting to brainstorm how we could safely reopen. Rachel has been a bit militant this past year, to say the least, and insisted we err on the side of caution, so we strictly stuck to online shopping and delivery only.
Big shoutout to Rachel here for building the website in 2018 so that we already had an online presence. We are beyond fortunate that we did not have to scramble to set up an online marketplace like many small businesses did. Additionally, in this past year, Rachel went from a minority ownership to a full partner and equal co-owner of the store. So, direct any complaints to her... I dare you.
Fulfilling and shipping online orders consumed us. There was a definite learning curve there, but after a few weeks we got very good at our fulfillment system; however, we had hoped by that point we would be open. We worked ourselves to the bone as the lockdown dragged on. We thankfully had each other but started to feel intensely isolated. One small glimmer of connection came from the outpouring of customers from all 50 states, Canada, Japan, Germany, Switzerland, Bahrain, Latvia, and more (that’s all I can remember off the top of my head)!
But we won’t lie, everything started to wear on us. We were working 50+ hour work weeks, by ourselves, which takes its physical and mental toll. As we were stuck in our Sewing Arts bubble, the world around us seemed to be collapsing. We watched, with anger and broken hearts, the murder of George Floyd. We watched with love and compassion as people marched the streets nationwide to very clearly state that Black lives matter. While we had tried to remain “apolitical” before, it was very clear that police brutality and systemic racism is not a political issue. It is not political to say that everyone deserves civil rights and equality under the law. So, we spoke out and donated, and tried to highlight organizations where others could contribute and learn more about what people can do to help in their communities.
Rachel, never scared to speak her mind, encouraged us to use our (small) platform to speak up for what is right, ranging from sexism and racism to voting rights. This already charged time was only amplified as we saw thousands of Americans dying from COVID-19, especially those in lower-income households, communities of color, or frontline workers. This only reinforced our decision to keep our doors closed and our employees paid to stay at home; whatever very small difference we could make in limiting the spread of this virus, we were willing to take.
By August, we began to have a sliver of hope that we would be able to start reopening for limited indoor shopping; however, September came, we lost our 13-year-old puggle Carter to cancer, cases started to gradually increase and didn’t slow down. Things were bleak. However, there were a couple good weeks in October and November when the Dodgers finally won the World Series and Biden & Harris won the election!
As Jews, Thanksgiving has always been our big family get together, akin to Christmas for many families. We were disheartened that we weren’t able to gather the extended family, but knew that it was the safer, smarter option for our mostly elderly relatives to stay apart. Instead of our usual 30, it was immediate family only—all “bubble” compliant! Even though no one travelled or saw anyone else, we still sat in the dining room with all the windows open, freezing, laughing, and eating our faux Thanksgiving dinner. It was without a doubt the happiest any of us had been that year.
Then the winter surge hit. Like so many others around the world, our family did not remain untouched by the impacts the virus had on our healthcare systems. By December 23rd, hospitals around Los Angeles were operating in “triage” and all of them were over 100% capacity. Unfortunately, due to the uncontained spread of the virus, we unexpectedly lost an immediate family member who couldn’t get into a hospital and would have survived with proper medical attention.
No, we’re not okay. Like we said, 2020 sucked. Really, really sucked. However, we are leaning on each other and slowly taking one step at a time. Our lives will never be the same, but we are helping each other learn to live with this new grief. [Advice: do not give us “pity eyes” and ask us how we’re doing. The answer is “not well,” and Rachel will definitely kick you out of the store. Seriously.]
With 2021 came a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are here and there is finally hope on the horizon. By mid-April our entire staff had been fully vaccinated and we got to see their faces for the first time in over a year!
Since then, we have proceeded very, very slowly with how we are reopening. We are now doing machine servicing, curbside pickup for online orders, and limited in-store shopping. We will continue to proceed with caution. We know that regulations are changing on June 15th for the state of California, but we will not be adjusting any protocols at that time. We will continue to follow our own timeline based on new daily cases and the positivity rate. Masks will still be required AT ALL TIMES during any interaction with a staff member.
This is our choice, and we stand behind it. Neither threats of “shopping somewhere else” nor stating that you “drove very far from XYZ” will make us change our minds. We both grew up with Jewish guilt and you’re not going to break us down, we promise. We always suggest that you check our website, social media, newsletters, Yelp or Google or CALL to see what the current status of the shop is before making your trek here.
We are keeping an eagle eye on what the next few weeks will present in Southern California following Memorial Day weekend and the June 15th reopening. If there is no real increase in cases by the first weeks of August, we will start allowing more than one customer at a time in the shop, still by appointment only.
Starting this week, we have increased the number of available appointments each day to accommodate the demand. We thank everyone for their patience and everyone who has come in with a shopping list ready—you have a special place in Rachel’s heart— and made all our lives that much easier, you all rock!
We are not closing and have very exciting plans for the future which we hope to announce in the next few months. While this past year has been hell, we have wonderful plans for the next few to come.
So, with all that said, we want to thank each and every one of our customers who have been patient, kind, and understanding as everyone’s worlds crumbled. Just know that every precaution we take is to keep you, and our staff, happy and healthy.
Wear a mask and get vaccinated! Please be kind to one another. We hope to see you all soon.
Julie + Rachel