Creativity Is All Sewn Up

Erika Hessheimer
Store Manager, Discount Fabric Warehouse

Please tell us about your business. Discount Fabric Warehouse is a hobby and sewing fabric store. People who come in here are generally people who want to sew, purchase fabric and be creative. We sell many different kinds of fabric, sewing machines, sergers and we even have Miele vacuums. We also offer lots of notions – thread, zippers, buttons – for your sewing needs. The business opened on Kauai 17 years ago by Bill Miller, who now has four locations – Lihue, Hilo, Kona and Maui.

What kind of fabric and sewing machines do you sell? We have a large selection of fabric, including stretch knit, upholstery weight, Hawaiian print and quilting fabric. We sell four brands of sewing machines: Viking, Baby Lock, Pfaff and Singer. We cater to all sewing needs.

Do you offer any special services? We offer sewing classes. When you buy a machine here, you get free lessons; you get to learn how to use and operate your sewing machine or serger. We also have specialty classes where you can learn how to make clothes or quilts. Our most popular class is our Quilt Block of the Month. Students learn how to create a block each month, and by the end of the year, they have 12 blocks that they can make into a quilt. Most people who get into sewing today are not doing it for a necessity, they’re doing it for a hobby. It should be fun, and that’s one of the reasons we do so many classes, because we want it to be fun for people. We want you to use your machine to the fullest capability it can offer. You can do amazing things with embroidery and sewing machines today.

Where exactly are you located? We are in the building across from Hilo Hattie and right next to KFC. We recently moved from the middle of the building to the front to get more visibility, and to allow the aisles to be wider so that everything is easier to find.

What is your background in sewing? I’ve been sewing since I was 16, but the sewing industry has been in my family for more than 60 years. I used to work for my dad in Utah, and I brought my experience here. I’ve been working at Discount Fabric Warehouse for 10 years. I’m the manager here – I sell sewing machines, I teach classes and I help with the fabric department. I even know how to repair the machines.

Why did you decide to get into this business? I actually didn’t ever want to sew. It wasn’t my passion. I had to take a class in school, and I made a quilt and pajama pants. It was a really simple quilt, but it started to inspire me and I thought it was fun. I worked on and off for my dad in his store, and that’s when they came out with embroidery machines, where you get to watch the machine do the sewing for you. Your fabric goes into the hoop, you put the hoop into the machine – and it’s all digital, so you program the design that you want and it will sew it for you, which is really fun to watch.

What do you like to sew? I primarily like quilting – I make a lot of quilts. I also make the skirts that I wear to work. I like to try making everything just so I can say I did, because I want to have the experience and the knowledge of how to do things.

What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? Customer service and dealing with fabric. Coming from a sewing machine background, I never had to deal with fabric before, and having to work with it all the time now is a lot more demanding. As far as customer service is concerned, you have to be on top of it all the time and make sure everyone is happy.

What is the most rewarding aspect of your job? Teaching people how to sew and seeing people enjoy what they’re doing. I just really like seeing people be able to create things. It’s also such a giving hobby because people will then make things for other people, and that makes it even more rewarding.

Open Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
3-3215 Kuhio Hwy., Lihue 246-2739