It’s been two years of change for Bolt Fabric Boutique, although you wouldn’t know it to gaze at the bright sewn samples in the window or walk inside.
After 15 years since opening the shop on Alberta Street – and the 2018 move to 4636 N.E. 42nd Ave. – Gina Cadenasso in December sold the natural, sustainable fibers store to employees Bitty Eagan and Anne Lagomarsino.
Both are longtime seamstresses. Anne began early in life, but said her interest became more intense in her 20s. Bitty learned to sew as a child from her grandmother, who worked as a costumer for Warner Brothers before being hired away by Lucille Ball.
Anne has worked at Bolt for 2-plus years and her interest in owning a business piqued when she learned Gina intended to sell. “I couldn’t manage to be a business owner by myself,” she said.
Bitty, an employee for 3-plus years, was all in. In fact, that same grandmother left her an inheritance that provided Bitty’s buy-in. “It seemed the perfect thing to do.”
Bolt had made it through the first 20 months of the pandemic, and the two were confident the business model – including BoltFabricBoutique.com – would continue and thrive.
“Bolt had this teeny, tiny online store at the beginning of the pandemic, and it was essential to shift a lot of our sales initially to online,” Anne recalled. “Bolt had to shift a lot of the ways we did business.
“The most essential was Gina researching and implementing the system necessary to track and sell inventory both online and in person. Now we have customers all across the U.S.”
During the early days of the pandemic, masked Bolt employees carried fabric selections and notions to masked customers on the store’s porch, she added. Many customers were making masks.
“One of the things that’s really important to us is to be available to our customers, even people who were not our customers [previously],” Bitty explained. “A lot of people were home and were desperate for things to do. A lot of people learned how to sew.
“I think it’s really empowering to make the things that you use,” she added “We’ve noticed a lot of different types who come into the shop,” Anne said. “It seems to be appealing to all different kinds of people.” For instance, more men are sewing their apparel.
Bitty reported an increase in transgender customers shop there nowadays. “It’s hard to find clothes if your body’s not the stereotype, all different sizes and shapes.”
Nancy Varekamp is semiretired from her career in journalism, public relations and – her favorite work engagement – writing and editing targeted newsletters.