I have mentioned Gina here before so you all know how wonderfully sweet and thoughtful she is, but perhaps you didn’t know that she’s also equally interesting and talented! Gina was kind enough to interview with me and share all about her fabric boutique, as well as some great advice for combating “sewing burnout”, an excellent tip for women in small business, a favorite non-craft related activity (A surprising activity, actually. I had no idea!), and more! Read on to hear all about it
(credit for photos: Carolyn Marie via The Little General Facebook page. Used with permission)
Hi Gina! Thank you so much for joining me on Lucky Lucille today! Let’s get things started by finding out a little bit about yourself…
Thanks for having me, Rochelle! It’s so awesome to be here; this is one of my all time favorite blogs! My name is Gina, and I own The Little General, a fabric boutique and studio in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
What inspired you to start The Little General?
There were a number of factors that played into it. First off: fabric! I can’t get enough of it, so I joke that I had to have a whole shop at my fingertips in order to satisfy the craving. I had also always been interested in having a small business (I have that “no one’s the boss of me!” syndrome, I’m afraid…) and the moment was just right. I was actually approached by the owner of the fabric shop, Karen, that used to occupy the same space; she’s a good friend of mine and was ready to move out of retail. When she initially asked me to buy her shop I was hesitant, but I had an amazing support system and everyone really believed that I had something unique to offer. Bringing people into community and sharing in the creation experience together is the heart of The Little General. I know I’m doing the right thing when customers tell me “this shop makes me so happy!” and “this place is magical!”
You describe The Little General as “Adventurously Particular”. I love that! Please elaborate on this little character of sorts that you’ve invented.
The idea behind this little girl actually comes from my childhood persona. My nickname was “Little General,” not because I was bossy, per say, but because I was choosey about just about everything. I had a particular sense of style and always tried on at least five outfits before going out the door. Nothing ever matched in the conventional sense, but of course this was the point! I always had a plan, and nobody ever knew quite what to expect with me. I’m one of 6 kids and my dad always says that out of all of his children, I was (and I guess still am!) the most unpredictable. In my mind I make perfect sense…
What is your favorite thing about being a fabric boutique owner?
The people! I love getting to make new friends and visit with old ones; every day I look forward to seeing who walks in the door. It’s such a blessing to be in a place where I get to do what I love and share it with people I love who love it, too! (And I won’t pretend it’s not a plus to have to make all those “shop samples…”)
I saw you on the cover of Rowan Fabric’s Fall 2012 Catalog!! That’s amazing! How did that come about?
Well, 99% of the fabric that I carry in the shop is FreeSpirit fabric for Westminster, who decided they wanted to do their Fall Market Catalogue shoot at Graylyn’s Conference Center. Karen, the woman I mentioned earlier, has connections with Graylyn’s so Westminster contacted her about the shoot. Her husband, Bo, was the photographer and they needed a model and before I knew it they had me standing there in a crinoline! I actually had no idea that they were going to use the photos because after the shoot I never heard back from anybody. I got a box in the mail one day, opened it up and SURPRISE it’s me on the cover! It was a little bit of a shock and I had to laugh; what am I going to do with a box of magazines with my face on the cover!? My sister, who has a way with words, suggested that I “frame it and put it by the register so that people will actually think you’re important…” haha. Gotta love family.
fun fact: that handsome fellow on the back page of the catalog is my husband!
When most of your life revolves around fabric, do you ever find yourself suffering from “sewing burnout”? How do you combat this?
I give myself a break! If I’m burnt out the worst thing I can do to myself is muscle through it, because I start to get sloppy and cranky and then I’ve completely lost the joy in it. I find that when I let myself slow down and step away for a bit I’m much more motivated and excited to be sewing again!
The other thing that helps me is to find a fabric that I’ve been itching to use and to make something for ME! When you sew for other people all the time it starts to feel like you have nothing to show for all your time. I think it’s a healthy thing to treat yourself to something nice every so often after all that hard work!
What is one non-craft related thing you love to do?
I love to dance! I studied dance in college and always planned on a career in that field. It didn’t work out that way; my husband got a job in a smaller town and there aren’t a whole lot of performance opportunities here. In some ways I think it’s better this way! I still love taking classes and performing when I can, but there’s not nearly the same kind of pressure there would be if it was my career.
(photo credit: Gina via The Little General Instagram. Used with permission)
I wanna hear more about your adorable Della! What’s her story?
We were Della’s third home by the time she was just 8 weeks old! We got her from a family who fostered her for a few weeks. Their youngest son went to the flea market and came back with a puppy. (Apparently somebody was handing out “free puppies” to any child who walked by…) His mom said they could keep her until they found a good home, and we were the lucky ones who got to keep her! She’s an amazing pup–she LOVES kids, other dogs, and especially her mama!
Given the opportunity to clear up one misconception about Pit Bulls, what would you want everyone to know?
Contrary to popular belief, Pit Bulls are actually incredibly gentle and loyal creatures. I grew up with dogs, and Della is by far the most affectionate of any of the breeds we’ve had; I can’t imagine our world without her!
(photo credit: Gina via The Little General Instagram. Used with permission)
I’m a foodie so I have to ask, what is your all time favorite food?
Gelato! I lived in Italy for a while, and I made sure I ate it at least twice every day while I was there. (Who needs real meals when you can have ice cream?) It’s hard to find the real stuff here, but every so often I stumble across an authentic gelateria and like to imagine I’m back there again. My favorite flavor is “marzapane,” which I could only find at one little location in Grado. *sigh*
And finally, what is one piece of advice you can offer to fellow women in the crafty small business industry?
Be nice! It’s amazing what a difference you can make in someone’s life by being kind to them, and in the end relationships trump everything. If I had to choose, I’d rather be remembered as a woman with a loving heart than as a woman who made lovely things.
Thank you, Gina! That’s fantastic advice. I will certainly always remember you as kind person. Oh, and eating Gelato two times a day is also sound advice in my book! haha! This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship 😉
One of these days I’m going to take a road trip down to North Carolina so I can see Gina and her gorgeous fabric boutique!! Until then, I’ll just have to keep up with her on Facebook, and browse her online shop.
Thanks for reading!