This post was contributed by Cambridge Main Street.
Michelle Follet’s Textile Teaching is a new business at 452 Race Street in downtown Cambridge. Michelle is a master weaver and textiles artist.
How long have you been in business? Just since October 2019 and as the Pandemic hit perhaps some of you don’t know we are here.
What type of products do you carry? Weaving equipment, accessories and supplies, and finished textile goods. People can learn to weave almost all genres – currently in a one-on-one format – or can get more immediate gratification in creating a unique textile using the sit-and-weave looms. I also offer technical weaving assistance both in-person and through video conferencing through The Handweaver’s Help Desk.
What makes you different from other merchants? The primary purpose of the shop is teaching weaving, which makes it unique to not just Cambridge but the entire Delmarva.
Is your family involved in the business? My husband has been a tremendous help in keeping the household in order, and he is my best cheerleader. The entire experience has been a challenging assignment with the chaotic operations of COVID-19
How did you get started? Once I started weaving in 2018, it became apparent that my home studio was not conducive to continuing there so I started look for rental space.
Did you do something else before you opened the shop? Yes I was a systems analyst consultant before retiring to Maryland. I started the Master Weaver program in 2016 in order to build my background knowledge in weaving. I am in my fourth year now.
Do you have any hobbies? I host a fairly large Purple Martin colony managing 64 nesting compartments. I add more compartments almost every year.
How are you coping during the Covid 19 crisis: I am especially grateful to have my Master Weaver assignments to keep me occupied. It takes a lot of time to produce the body of work expected of a candidate – especially this year, in which I am up for Artisan Weaver certification. Honestly, with as well as the shop was going before the pandemic, I would have been struggling to find enough time to weave as required.
What was you best seller before Covid and what is your best seller now? Prior to the closure, tourists were the primary buyers of finished goods. Now, it is primarily weaving students and fiber enthusiasts buying weaving goods – and learning to weave.
What has most surprised you during the crisis? The increased number of new students since re-opening. A new student told me she sincerely prayed every day that the pandemic wouldn’t cause my shop to close forever.
What do you miss most? The one-room school-house environment when students’ attendance overlapped more.
How do you protect yourself or your staff? For students, masks are required while walking around the store. I have a HEPA air purifier running within 10’ of the student. Similar to a gym and restaurant, while working at the loom, the mask can be removed, if comfortable by the student.
What cleaning methods do you employ? I start each student’s attendance by washing my own hands. I spray all touched surfaces with disinfectant at the conclusion of each student’s session, and wash my hands again. I also have a HEPA air purifier running near me when I working in the shop – I do a lot of weaving while there.
Do you have online ordering? I was using the website for workshop registration and letting viewers know where and when I am demonstrating weaving but, for the time being, neither of those are happening so the website is limited to gift cards and requesting technical weaving assistance through The Hand Weavers’ Help Desk. I am still teaching but as a one-on-one workshop with the start date arranged with the student.
Hours Friday through Monday 1-5 PM plus by arrangement.