For our first episode of The Maternity Sewing Podcast we’re thrilled to talk with Kate McIvor of The Confident Stitch. Kate and I have been friends through our sewing blogs for years – we first connected over being tall and learning to sew so that we’d have clothes that were long enough. Kate owns The Confident Stitch, a brick and mortar fabric store in Missoula, Montana. We talk about her decision to open a brick and mortar store in a day and age when we keep hearing that brick and mortar is dead (spoiler alert: her shop is going strong!).
You can find Kate McIvor and her shop at TheConfidentStitch.com. The Confident Stitch is on Instagram and has a Facebook page for shop updates and a Facebook group for a community of likeminded sewists.
You can find Maternity Sewing at MaternitySewing.com. Keep in touch with us by following our blog (follow by RSS or follow in Bloglovin), following us on Instagram, or liking our Facebook Page. Find friendship and community with other sewists going through pregnancy, nursing, and postpartum life in our Facebook Group.
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[0:12] Welcome to episode 1 of the Maternity Sewing Podcast. Maternitysewing.com is your source for maternity nursing and postpartum friendly sewing patterns. The maternity sewing podcast is we we have frank conversations, share stories, and offer help and inspiration on things like sewing and body positivity especially during pregnancy and postpartum. Hi. I’m Erin Weisbart and today on the Maternity Sewing Podcast I’m going to be talking with Kate McIvor of The Confident Stitch about her choice to start a brick-and-mortar fabric store in a day and age when we keep hearing about how brick-and-mortar is dead.
[0:51] Hi Erin. Thank you for inviting me. Hey Kate. We’re excited to have your here. Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your store.
Yes so my name is Kate McIvor. I own The Confident Stitch which is a brick-and-mortar fabric store in Downtown Missoula Montana and on the web at theconfidentstitch.com. I worked in public health for 25 years and now I’m living the life of a fabric a lover and fabric store owner and it’s really fun. So what inspired you to start a brick-and-mortar fabric store? Downtown Missoula is really vibrant and I was excited to be part of that.
So and also there was a garment fabric store here in Missoula that closed down about two years before I opened so I had been inspired by them as well.
[1:54] That’s great and so do you feel like I feel like we hear over and over that the it’s the death of the brick-and-mortar store than online is taking over but you know you’ve started this fairly recently in a time that I would think it would be really scary to actually start a brick-and-mortar. Do you have thoughts on that?
[2:16] It is really scary but most people want to buy their fabric after they touch it so I feel that a brick-and-mortar I mean the brick-and-mortar is actually going really well. I’m having I’m struggling being found on the internet. So although I started both businesses at the same time the brick-and-mortar has really taken off. Another thing about Missoula is that the downtown doesn’t have any chain stores. In bigger cities I feel like when you go to what used to be the cool downtown it’s just really a mall with J crew and you know all the
[3:14] All the same stores as in other towns so I think that helps Missoula and also Missoula’s really a tourist town and so
[3:25] everyone who loves to sew when they go to a new town they look for the fabric stores. Yes most definitely. I am guilty of that myself.
We got a ton of tourist traffic especially in the summer. Oh that’s interesting. I never would have thought about that being a major source for a fabric store but it makes it makes perfect sense. Yeah and I also feel like you know when you’re traveling and you find something new you’re more likely to buy it then if you find it at home because at home you can just go back to the store next week if you feel like it. You get this sense of urgency. I think I’ve also read about people just being a lot more likely to be free with their spending when they’re on vacation you get in this whole mentality of you know I’m spending money it’s okay versus when you’re at home you stick to a budget and you plan your expenses. Exactly.
Interesting. Do you think then being such a tourist destination has it been hard to build a local community for your store?
[4:39] No I don’t think that. I don’t think it’s been, well it’s been hard but I don’t think because of the tourist destination part of it I think it’s sewing is a really solitary hobby and so
[5:01] people just tend to sew at home alone and bringing them out and to the store is a challenge. But we every Thursday night we have what we call the Sewcialist Union and from 6 until 9 you can sew for free, in our beautiful classroom and use our machines and our cutting tables and really spread out so that has really been taking off and we get a handful of people every Thursday. That’s getting really really fun. That’s a great idea because I know I’m also a knitter and it’s so much easier to pick up your knitting and go meet other knitters at a coffee shop because itt fits in your lap but you can’t really do that with a sewing machine it’s just not as portable of a hobby. Right so yeah so we have the great machines and all the equipment that you need so you don’t you just need to bring your project. That’s really cool. That’s a fun idea. Downtown Missoula on Thursday nights in the summer all the food trucks are just right outside our back door. Oooh. Yeah not only are there fun and easy dinners to buy downtown all year round but
[6:26] all summer you can pick from any of the food trucks and have a great dinner downtown as well as sewing. Nice. So then do you find between what your summer has to offer and the tourists coming in is it a challenge to make it through the winter? I’ve never thought of
sewing as being, I tend to think actually more like sewing in the winter. Right. Because it’s warm and fabric and textiles and you want to bundle yourself up. Yes so yeah surprisingly our business in the winter is not as brisk as it is in the summer. Also I love being in Downtown Missoula. It makes us really accessible for the tourists and also other people who shop downtown but parking is an issue and so if the streets if the sidewalks are icy and you can’t park right next to the store people are less likely to
[7:35] come and buy fabric. That makes sense. You guys have pretty brutal winters. Yeah I mean I guess I don’t consider them that brutal but we do get ice. Well I live in the Pacific Northwest so we get snow maybe a couple of days a year so anything more than that seems pretty brutal to me. I guess it is all relative. That’s very cool. So has this whole experience of running a brick-and-mortar store been what you thought it would be when you made the decision to start a store?
[8:15] It’s actually been better than I thought it would be. Oh yay! I know. I just love every aspect of it. I love buying fabric of course. But I also love organizing the store, interacting with customers, I really love building spreadsheets and balancing the books.
[8:39] I just really feel like we are selling things that people need to make the world a better place. Yeah. Whether they’re making something to give someone else or something for themselves to feel proud of or just making themselves clothing that fits them and they don’t need to conform with international body positive you know body perfection.
[9:13] I love working with my I have a few employees and I love all of them and we just have a great time. Yay. That sounds wonderful. So you said it’s been a bit more of a challenge being found online. How do you split your time between an online presence and your brick-and-mortar presence? Well we have two sophisticated inventory systems even though we only have one inventory we keep track of it in two different ways.
I kind of feel like I’m speaking a different language you know constantly going from Spanish to French because you build the inventory and keep track of it differently on both systems. But it’s actually pretty easy to split my time because people don’t really come into a fabric store unless they want to buy fabric. We don’t
[10:21] there’s a lot of time when we don’t have any customers in the store. And so during that time I can be on the computer and writing blog posts or rebuilding a spreadsheet or printing out the web orders. So I feel like there’s plenty of time in between
[10:43] customers both on the web and in the store to do the other work. Nice. So they’re balancing each other out you can fit in between the gaps of the other work. Kate thank you so much for coming on the show I really appreciated hearing the glimpse behind the scenes of your amazing brick-and-mortar fabric store and I hope to someday see it in person.
[11:10] Thank you Erin. That’s it for today’s episode of the maternity sewing podcast. You can find maternity sewing at maternitysewing.com. You can find our curated pattern shop of maternity nursing and postpartum friendly sewing patterns, our blog where we have sewing tutorials and inspiration for pregnant nursing and postpartum sewists and the show notes from all of our podcast
I’m Erin Weisbart, your host today and co-owner of maternity sewing. You can find me at Tuesday stitches.com and on Instagram as
Tuesday stitches.Ttoday we talked with Kate McIvor of The Confident Stitch you can find her at the confidenctstitch.com and on Facebook and Instagram as The Confident Stitch.
[11:50] You can look at our show notes and on our website at maternitysewing.com/podcast for links to everything we talked about as well as the ways you can stay in touch with maternity sewing like our Facebook page and Facebook group. You can also find us on Instagram as maternity sewing.