A consistently popular vendor at Road to California is Cherrywood Fabrics – 100% Cotton hand dyed fabrics that have the look and feel of suede.
In addition to their booth, since 2015, Cherrywood Fabrics has also presented Special Exhibits of their unique Cherrywood Challenges. Road 2021 was supposed to be the debut of the Cherrywood Challenge, Diana, in honor of Princess Diana. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the Diana Challenge Special Exhibit has been put on hold.
How else has COVID-19 impacted Cherrywood Fabrics? Road reached out to Karla Overland, owner of Cherrywood Fabrics, to find out the latest.
How has Cherrywood Fabrics Adapted to COVID-19?
When the pandemic first hit, Cherrywood immediately went in to “Face Mask” mode, cutting and donating hundreds of facemask kits for local seamstresses to make masks for healthcare workers. Because of this, Cherrywood did not have to furlough any workers. They were also able to keep filling online orders due to a healthy website following. In May, the company decided to take the leap into social media selling. Karla recalls, “It was a very steep learning curve, but we now have five months of weekly Facebook shows under our belt. I am also doing Zoom sewing workshops now and inviting guests to join me on both formats.”
The Facebook LIVE sales have been “fantastic.” Karla believes this was due to several factors: “We already had a large following and they were craving beauty and color. We had one-of-a-kind products that were not available on our website, and our faithful customers have a genuine interest in seeing our small business prevail during COVID-19.”
What Happened to the Cherrywood Challenge Schedule?
Karla explained the logistics of rescheduling Cherrywood’s popular exhibits:
“Not only were we horrified to see our full vending schedule shrink down to absolutely nothing, we had even more cancellations to deal with for The Bob Ross Cherrywood Challenge. It is a huge job to handle all the requests and logistics for the five different trunks, and almost as big a job to un-do it all. Then the question – what would happen to “Bob?” Would anybody get to see “Bob” in person before “Diana” took over?”
“After running through every scenario we could think of, our tiny staff of four decided that we should treat the entire year of 2020 as a “do-over.” If a show had to cancel The Bob Ross Challenge in 2020, we offered it to them again in 2021.”
“The Bob Ross Cherrywood Challenge quilts are safe with us for the moment, with dates scheduled in 2021. I have created a “virtual tour” of the exhibit that has served as a “place-holder” for a few virtual shows. The hope is that they can indeed display the real thing next year.”
What is the Status of the Diana Challenge?
The Diana Cherrywood Challenge was announced in November 2019.
Cherrywood had already received many digital submissions when COVID-19 took over. Even though the Cherrywood Challenges have been so rewarding and positive for their business, Karla knew it was vital to make sure that her business stayed healthy during the pandemic, and her staff was the heart of that. Karla felt the company needed a little breathing room and that the customers did too. Consequently, Cherrywood decided to move the Diana submission date from July 1st to December 31st, 2020. The juried exhibit will premiere at International Quilt Festival 2021 (honoring their prior commitment). This allowed Cherrywood several months to accomplish the jury process, photography, book design and printing, assembly of the physical exhibit and all the million details that the project entailed. (To put it into perspective, these details with the other Challenges were crammed into about two months…while still dyeing fabric every day!)
Cherrywood Challenge Exhibit for Road@Home
Cherrywood was “so thrilled” to put together a Retrospective of The Cherrywood Challenge for Road to California 2021. Remarked Karla,” This is the perfect solution since The Diana Challenge will not be ready and Bob Ross has already made his appearance (at Road 2020). We have hand selected 60 quilts that represent the first 5 years of this colorful journey from Wicked and Lion King on Broadway, to Van Gogh, Prince and Bob Ross.
Looking ahead to Road to California 2022, the beauty and grace of Princess Diana will fill Road’s quilt show with light during the year of the 25th anniversary of her death.
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