An interview with Tita Montero, co-owner of Montero Sisters Fabrics and Creative Inspiration

130 S. Holladay Drive, Seaside 738-7730

(www.monterosisters.com)

Step into Montero Sisters Fabrics and Creative Inspiration and you step into a colorful world. The walls are hung, gallery-style, with a variety of quilts, apparel and decorative pieces made by customers. Designer buttons, like those is the shape of a crab or mermaid, beg to be placed on some unique creation. Ribbons, threads and other sewing notions are ready to aid the sewing enthusiast create the perfect dress. The fabrics come in every color of the rainbow, some with metallic threads to add sparkle. Cottons, satins, wools and even faux-leather can be the beginning of creative inspiration.

What is your business philosophy?

"We sell entertainment, self-fulfillment and creativity. We want to find out a customer's passion and help them fulfill that passion."

How long have you been in business?

"13 months."

How did you get started?

"Neither Robin nor I had owned a retail store before, although we've been "professional consumers" and fabric lovers for a long time. Robin and her husband had purchased the building and came down in April 2002 to begin refurbishing it. The ultimate goal was to open a fabric store. We had been vacationing in Seaside for 20 years and we saw that there was no place to get notions or sewing supplies. We figured that if we didn't do it right away, somebody else would do it. We decided to take the plunge."

Who are your customers?

"Our primary customers are local textile lovers, seamstresses, interior designers or even people who want to do just a little home decor. Our secondary customer is the tourist. I know that any "fabric-aholic" has to stop and find a fabric store right away. I've been there."

What products do you offer?

"We offer a full spectrum of fabric for apparel, quilting, home decor and swimsuits. We carry a lot of designer fabrics that you can't find in Portland. We also offer sewing notions and tools. We offer Quik-Sew, Folk Art and boutique-style patterns because they pay more attention to detail and come in a wider range of sizes. Customers may also attend any of our sewing classes: beginning sewing, quilting, fitting pants or faskets (fabric baskets). Customers may also rent sewing machines to use during their class, which also includes use of an iron, ironing board, cutting surfaces and free advice."

How do you market your products:?

"Our front windows are some of our biggest assets. One night a month, we draw the curtains and redo the window with a new theme. The themes are always kept a secret. In the past we've done primary color, wedding and boudoir love themes. We have great fun with our windows. We don't just want people to see it and say 'that's neat' but we want it to be a jumping-off point for their creativity."

What sort of volume do you do?

"In our business plan, we had a target for gross sales, and we have met or exceeded those target goals every month. We're almost double what we were last September. Some of our biggest sellers include "fat quarters" (18-inch by 22-inch rectangles of fabric), beach-themed fabrics, cotton fabrics and special occasion fabrics for things like prom dresses."

What is the best part of your job?

"I get to do what I love, and I get to help people express their creativity. Robin and I love the fact that we're not part of a big corporate thing. The buck stops here. We love having personal ownership of the business."

- Helen Warriner

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