Shop Talk: Custom Canvas

Published On: May 1, 2015Categories: In the Shop, Management, Resources

0515_Custom_CanvasCustom Canvas by Yvonne
Contact: Yvonne M. Peters
Location: Fort Myers, Fla.
Year Established: 1996
Number of employees: 1 (self)
Shop size: 1,000 sq. ft.


How did your shop get started?
Owning a boat with my husband, Michael, and daughters Jessica, Melissa and Denise, who were young girls at the time, I had to make lots of things to accommodate toys and clothing. Plus the essentials like shade and weather protection.

What is your product focus?
My main focus is to put out a good product that will not only look good, be functional and well made. Customer friendly is a must.

What unique design elements are built into your products?
I like neatness and flowing lines, as far as construction of a product goes. And being conscious of where a product needs strength and reinforcements to make it last.

Who are your main customers?
I have a mix of customers of all ages. For an elderly customer, I want to make a product they won’t have to struggle to put on and off their boats. For customers in the other age groups who want to redo their canvas or cushions, I suggest we bring it up to date with modern materials and get away from just plain white cushions.

Describe your shop layout.
You walk into an office, and then into the warehouse space that has one 24-by-8-foot table. I have several different sewing machines on dollies that wheel in and out of the cut-out areas in the table. Along one wall I have fabric racks; above them are wire shelves that hold bindings etc. The other side consists of a bending table and miscellaneous shelves. And the break room table is a must!

What is your work-flow process?
As a one-person shop, I always have several things going on at once. Weather plays a big part in this work; if I can’t go out to pattern or install, I pick up something in the shop to work on. I do like to start and finish in a timely manner but sometimes it’s impossible.

How do you deal with scheduling and handling customers?
Different times of the year are easier than others. Summer is calmer, and scheduling stays on course. But winter is too crazy to keep that flow going. Everyone wants it tomorrow!

What other products do you produce?
If a customer has an item in their head, I can make it, from dock piling socks to pull-apart mannequin clothes.

Do you create a product that you consider your specialty?
I’ve gotten quite good at cushions of all kinds. Some of them take quite a bit of thought to construct, but the end results always look great and are rewarding to me.

What do you do to stay busy in the off-season?
I don’t have an off season! Just a more shop-controlled season.

Do you use any new or unusual technology?
Not really. At my age and with the big price tags, new technologies are not for me.

What unique things do you do to market your business?
I have been in the area for 20 years, and my customers’ word of mouth has gotten me all the business I can handle. I have long-standing customers who are greatly appreciated.