Interview with Suzan Steinberg of Stonemountain & Daughter
A business passed down from generations, Stonemountain & Daughter, once Steinberg & Sons (est. 1919) stands tall in Berkeley California where many other fabric shops have not been able to survive! Why? Because of the people behind it all; Suzan and Bob Steinberg, father daughter duo extraordinaire! A customer of TÉLIO’s for almost 10 years, Stonemountain & Daughter’s 6000 sq ft store is home to many of our beautiful fabrics! I had the chance to ask Suzan a couple of questions about the business, herself and the relationship she shares with her father.
What do you like most about working in the fabric retail industry?
It’s in my blood. I am the fourth generation of fabric business owners in the state of California! I grew up in my father’s “hippie” fabric store that began in 1967 in Los Angeles. When he moved his store up to Berkeley, I fell in love with both the creative customers and the families who we were buying wholesale from. There was such a “need” to fill in the community, and the vision of finding great fabrics for our customers drove me to grow the business into our current 6000 sq foot store!
If you didn’t own a fabric shop is there something you would want to do instead?
I love working with women and could see myself being a life coach with a specialization in Shamanic Astrology (I was certified last year).
Did you always think you would end up working in the family business?
No, I got sucked in!
What is the best part about working as a father daughter team?
We balance each other and learn much from each other. In the beginning it was a way into a male dominated fabric industry. Working with my father gave me respect that was difficult to receive as a woman in this industry back in the 80’s. We transformed Steinberg & Sons (est. 1919) into Stonemountain & Daughter…passed down through my great grandfather, grandfather, uncles and father, and now it is a father daughter story…a story with vision, hope, love, service and dedication. My father and I have overcome so much to survive 33 years here in our Berkeley location, as most of the fabric stores are gone. On a personal level, working together has given us the incredible opportunity to grow even closer.
What was the first thing you learned to sew?
My generation was all taught in school and in 5th grade I made a cute little outfit with shorts and a little bag with a strawberry patch on it – I got the fabric and patch from my Dad’s store!
How big is your personal fabric stash?
Huge! I have boxes in my garage, some in storage and of course a 6000 sq feet store! I now blog at fabriclady3.blogspot.com and have been busy with my seamstress making up many garments to help inspire others see how they can use their stash and create a wardrobe of their dreams.
You have been a customer of TÉLIO’s for a long time, what do you like about working with us?
I love the personalized service I receive from my knowledgeable sales rep, Adel, and the generosity of the owner, André Télio. From the beginning, they saw in us a valuable customer, treated us with genuine spirit and helped us grow that section of our business.
What is your favourite TÉLIO fabric and why?
The one that re-orders! Ha! The bamboo knits, ponte knits and quilted knits. We love their knits! The Portofino Linen and Cotton Voile solids are also great basics for us.
Here is a wishlist of some of their favourites.
Who inspires you most?
My kittens inspire me with their pure love, joy and purring. The women I work with inspire me to be a generous, compassionate, trustworthy, consistent and visionary co-worker and leader. My customers inspire me to share in their joy of creation, community and pleasure. Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics inspires me to constantly seek out new ways to contribute to the community with curiosity and passion. My husband inspires me to continually grow and open my heart to the love that I am. My family inspires me to let down the walls of my old story and to allow a new one to unfold. My friends inspire me to be vulnerable, playful, experimental, laugh and dance.
I am eternally inspired by my relationship and participation with the cycles of the stars and the planets. Quan Yin, Buddha and other enlightened beings inspire and support me in moving life’s dream and intent.
You are director of finefabricstores.com which helps people find the fabric of their dreams. I wouldn’t be far off in guessing that you are very passionate about fabric. What makes you so passionate?
I love what I do and I have developed the tools to have fun doing it. My passion flows from trying to make a difference in the world around me. A fabric store is a wonderful place to touch many people – family, staff and community. It’s a wonderful right livelihood project!
What are some ways you help individuals in their search for the perfect fabric?
As you mention above, I am Director of FineFabricStores.com which is a network of independent fabric stores around North America. We are dedicated to guiding the fabric lover to specialty fabric stores with high quality products and expert customer service. I love finding ways for us to find our collective voice and bring awareness to the plight of the fabric store in an industry that desperately needs leadership.
In keeping with this, we also partner with the small manufacturers, Etsy/boutique type businesses and resalers by special ordering larger amounts, giving them discounts to help them keep their costs down and supporting their growth with out community and relationships.
What have you have done to help the community with the use of fabric?
I am Lead Coordinator of Brightest Little Star, which makes blankets, scent dolls and other necessary items for the families and babies in the NICU at Alta Bates/Summit Hospital. Our goal is to have a blanket, quilt or scent doll for each of the over 1200 newborns that are cared for each year.
Along with that I also donate gift certificates to all the local schools, guilds and non-profits to support creativity in our community.
We sell quilts from a woman’s cooperative in Guatemala to help them earn a living.
We also have a sewing School which offers 1 – 3 classes each day throughout the year – this takes many hours of my personal time to develop and schedule. It’s a labour of love and one of the reasons our store is still here. We continue to teach future sewing generations generations to sew and support our customers with great inspiration.
I like to think that my blog fabriclady3.blogspot.com is helping support the garment sewing revolution in our own community and beyond. I try to inspire our followers by showing quality fabric made up in commercial patterns on a real body is possible and that inspiration comes from us all!
Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us Suzan!