​Meet Ladies Touch of Newport

​Meet Ladies Touch of Newport

Posted by Casper Hill on Feb 23rd 2024

Ladies Touch of Newport in Newport North Carolina is a full service upholstery and custom fabrication workroom also specializing in upholstery prototyping. Founded by Lee Davis in 1980, the Shop has grown throughout the years expanding their offerings to include custom Draperies, Quilting, and Pillow manufacturing operations.

Over the years, Ladies Touch transitioned from operating out of a carport, in 1981 relocated to a downtown shop, and eventually expanded to occupy a 4000 sq ft space, its current home.

They began with two part-time employees and over time have expanded the team to include eleven full time professionals with their primary objective to deliver the highest-quality custom work. In addition to furniture fabrication and repair, Ladies Touch provides a wide range of services including seat caning, rushing, reupholstery and installation.

Q & A Interview with Lee Davis

What inspired you to get started in the upholstery field?

“I needed new furniture but had some that needed some TLC. I disassembled the first sofa we ever had in the Living room and spread the pieces around the frame. As I assembled the pieces to the frame, every piece was a learning experience. I enjoyed the challenge of cutting, sewing, applying, and discovering different ways to improve the product appearance. When I began to think about upholstering a piece, most Upholstery shops were all men, and they were more than happy to share their knowledge with a young inexperienced woman.

When I got a Walking Foot sewing machine/button maker and hand tools, Ladies Touch was born. Once I had the tools, equipment, and fabric sources I strived to make finished items like I was doing them for myself. I focused on details and getting them just right.”

What is a fun fact about you or your business that most wouldn't know?

“In the 90’s finding any trained upholsterers was impossible in our area, so I employed prisoners from the nearby low security state prison. They were somewhat trained by the prison training center as part of rehabilitation. It was very interesting and helped us out in a difficult time. We participated in their work release program for eight years.”

Biggest challenge for your shop?

“We have had pieces to be re-upholstered that were beyond help. Some pieces have been recovered so many times that the frame has deteriorated, and spring seating needed to be replaced. When we would know the estimated expense to fix the piece, the customer is given the opportunity to continue or take a different path.”

What would you say is one of the most important or recognizable contributions to your success in this industry?

”We believe the best contribution to the Interior Design Workroom community is hiring and training people from diverse backgrounds to be able to operate the equipment and assemble the product in an efficient and quality fashion. One of our best success stories is when we accepted a girl in high school whose Senior Project was to Upholster a chair. With my help, she was able to complete the chair for her project. Out of many high school students who tried, she was the only one who succeeded. We gave her the opportunity to become part of the Team and she has been here over ten years and is our lead upholsterer. By hiring and training willing employees we can keep customers for over 40 years.”

Can you tell me about one of the most challenging, funniest, most memorable, or nightmare customer stories/projects you've completed?

Customers who are designers are another big challenge as they often assume they know how to make a product better than the workroom. It is difficult to explain to an “empowered” person that just because you can sketch a window covering doesn’t mean we can make it look that way.

We were asked to produce products for a Magazine Show House. The complexity of the project and the multiple communication channels caused many exciting moments. But the Best Moment was being invited to participate in the opening show.

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