At least that's what it feels like i'm saying any time I talk with another upholstery guy. It's good to see a forum that encourages people of this trade to come together and share ideas. I had an employee once that would always caution me of hiring others, saying they'll just steal my ideas and my customers in the end. It makes you feel like you're conversing with the enemy just talking to another shop about what thread they use, like everyone is out to get you. I'm glad to see that there are still people just happy to share their knowledge out of good will.
I figured I would take the time to introduce myself since I just recently joined the forum. My name is Joe and I run JPM Coachworks with my good friend Alex. Reading through this forum, it seems I'm sort of an odd man out as I've never studied upholstery, taken an apprenticeship, or had any formal training. I've learned everything I know by simply taking things apart and studying how it's put together. I taught myself to sew on my mother's 1970 Singer Golden Stitch home sewing machine. That was 2006, I was an IT guy back then and only did things like this as a hobby to make some extra spending money.
I quit my day job and took a chance at this in January of 2007. I had purchased a cheap Chinese industrial sewing machine off ebay for a few hundred dollars and convinced a body shop to hire me part time and give me a place to work while I started the business. The body shop gave me odd jobs so I didn't starve while I gained customers of my own. I was also given a storage closet to have my office in. I had my sewing machine, stool, and small table in about 60 square feet of space that I had to share with a storage cabinet for the body shop.
It was pretty difficult at first. I thought about quitting plenty of times and looked for other jobs at least once a year. I tried my best to learn all I could from others although my best teachers ended up being How It's Made and other TV programs. I gained a business partner early on to help with starting everything up (organizationally and not financially as we were both broke). Our common interest in cars fueled our passion for the trade and we learned what we needed to by helping each other out along the way.
It's definitely not easy when you don't have someone to show you the ropes or to say what goes where, or even what certain tools are called. The hardest thing to figure out was how to make a steering wheel. The rest was self explanatory but required lots of practice.
Anyway, I'm glad to be part of the community and that I am able to keep the skill alive. Here are a few pictures of some recent work I've done. I wouldn't dare post pictures of my early work
2012 Hyundai Veloster for SEMA
Steering Wheel (Alcantara w/Leather):
Redesigned Front Seat (Alcantara w/Leather):
1998 Lamborghini Diablo Roadster:
Audi S3 Steering Wheel in Alcantara:
Thanks for looking. Feel free to check us out on facebook as well: facebook.com/jpmcoachworks