When Shauna Winter Washburn (BS ’82) was 9 years old, she began to sew clothes for her dolls by hand. For Christmas, she received a used sewing machine with one function—a straight stitch. She designed clothes and prom dresses in high school, plugging away on her old machine. Little did she know she would one day have industrial sewing machines, a professional workroom, and a bustling custom drapery business inside her home.
At BYU she majored in clothing and textiles. She worked her way through school in the Smith Family Living Center’s Campus Couture doing alterations.
Later, when her youngest child was 2, Washburn began doing window treatments for a neighbor’s interior-design business. From there, she took classes and workshops, read instructional books, and joined a drapery professionals network.
“I found that I liked windows better than wedding dresses,” Washburn says. “Windows don’t say, ‘This makes me look fat.’”
Dropping off business cards at two fabric stores was all the advertising Washburn ever had to do. She developed a solid retail and wholesale client base through word of mouth and established New View Draperies. The MBA experience of her husband, Hugh D. Washburn (BS ’85), has come in handy over the years, as he has served as a bookkeeper and business advisor for the Bolingbrook, Ill., company.
Running the business from her home has pros and cons, says Washburn. “The pro is that you’re home… The con is that the work is always there, so you tend to work late nights or weekends.”
The business has largely been a family affair. Washburn employed her children with small tasks, like turning ties and pulling out upholstery staples.
“I think she really showed me how to maintain balance in my life,” says Jennifer Stevens, Washburn’s daughter. “She was always there when I got home from school and was there when I left. And she made good use of the time when we weren’t around.”