The people who work at Schoolhouse are truly the reason for and heart of everything we do. If you ask our founder Brian Faherty why Schoolhouse exists as it does, chances are he'll say something along the lines of "to give good jobs to great people" (although probably with more eloquence). We have so many talented, hardworking and dedicated people from all over the world that come to work at the Schoolhouse factory and headquarters every day. For us, it's important to give credit where it's due and we want to share more about those who build, craft and create our products and who make Schoolhouse what it is.
We're excited to introduce Cindy Morgan, our one-woman sewing studio powerhouse. Before Cindy's arrival to the Schoolhouse family almost 3 years ago, we didn't have an in-house studio dedicated to sewing. With decades of experience and a lot of gusto, she created a working production studio from scratch in an empty corner of our factory building. In this space, Cindy single-handedly sews our throw pillows, totes, canvas organizers and more, while also adding finishing hems and custom tags to many other Schoolhouse items.
“I have loved sewing as far as I can remember. When I was 5 my mom gave me one of those little mini singer’s and I used it to make doll clothes. At 10, I learned how to sew with a treadle and I begged my parents to get me a real, full-sized sewing machine. I made a lot of my own clothing and I would adapt patterns to make them my own.”
A costume designer for 30 years and owner of her own sewing business, Cindy's ability to make magic with a needle and thread has served her well throughout the decades. Except for that one time in middle school when her young age and advanced skill level caused a bit of a classroom clash:
“In 7th grade I got kicked out of my home ec class for knowing how to sew better than the teacher did. Not everything, but I knew how to put the zippers in properly. I told her I knew a better way than what she was showing us. We fought and I got kicked out. The next year for 8th grade it was the same teacher again so I took shop instead."
Partnering with our Product Development and Design team, Cindy takes direction from their ideas, sketches and inspiration and brings them in to the realm of reality by creating working patterns.
"The SECO tote bag take the longest to sew. My favorite item to make is our storage organizers, to me they are the best value for the money – they’re so sturdy and durable – nothing is going to happen to them. I’ve sewn 2,000 pillows since I’ve been here, it’s the only thing I keep track of just because I make so many of them. For me, those are no-brainers."
Through collaboration, teamwork and lots of hard work (thank you Cindy!), we've been able to continue to expand our textile offerings season after season while making sure each piece that leaves here is of the highest quality standards.
“I like the people here a lot, it’s just like a family. I also like that even though I’m not the boss, I’m the boss of my area. There was nothing here when I started and I designed this entire studio, which is one of my proudest accomplishments here. I do everything in this department and I like the independence at Schoolhouse. People from all different departments come in here every day to ask me questions about the products, fibers, fabrics and finishes"
"I think of this space mostly as a sample studio because we do so much testing here to make sure everything is done the best it can be and there’s a lot of trial and error involved in that. I don’t normally produce more than 20 of the same item – except, that is, for our stockings – so many orders are coming in!"
Fun fact: So far this holiday season, Cindy has sewn over three hundred SECO stockings by hand which is quite the awesome feat by any measure. It gives us so much joy to see Cindy's handiwork hung up on mantles and in people's homes near and far on instagram.
Ask anyone here about Cindy and they'll immediately respond with a grin. She keeps us smiling with her energy, always-entertaining stories and spirit. During our interview we particularly got a kick when she revealed that even though her pick for her favorite Schoolhouse item that she sews was the Navy Mayan Pillow ("the fabric is so beautifully detailed and it just looks so gorgeous when you stuff a pillow in it"), she doesn't understand what all the fuss is about.
“People are always telling me how gorgeous my pillows are and going on and on, but to me it’s just so simple. I always tell them 'it’s just a square'.”
And that's Cindy in a nutshell: humble and generous with her talent. While her analysis may be true, what's also true is that few people have the skill and attention to detail that make Cindy and what she creates so special. We're lucky to have such amazing people at Schoolhouse and we look forward to continuing to share more of their process and stories.