Providing high-quality custom sewing to every customer.
Interview by Jennifer Proe
Who: Janet Basnett
Where: Lomond neighborhood.
Business: Janet owns and operates Cleveland Cushion out of the first level of her 1930s Tudor home in the Lomond neighborhood (living quarters are on the second and third floors). She provides custom cushions, pads, and pillows as well as needlepoint finishing to interior designers, businesses, and individual customers.
Company’s Mission: To provide high-quality custom sewing to every customer. About 75 percent of my customers are interior designers. But I also have some customers who have come to me for three generations. I have created everything from Torah covers and Christmas stockings to the seven-foot long window seat cushions for the patient rooms in University Hospitals Lerner Tower. I also created the seating bench cushions for every Stride Rite shoe store in the country.
What I Love About My Work: My favorite thing is to have a stockpile of cut work so I can sit here and sew. I love the fabrics. And I love my customers! I’m very proud of the quality we do. That’s what my customers appreciate. I have never advertised; I have always received my customers by word of mouth.
Personal Background: I grew up in Rochester, New York. My mother taught me to sew when I was seven. She was very tall, like I am, so she made her own clothes. I was a biology major at Wittenberg College, and after college I stayed in the area and worked for an insurance company as an injury claims adjuster. I took an upholstery class at night just for fun, and discovered it was something I really liked doing. I loved working with my hands, starting with a roll of fabric and ending up with a finished product.
Much to my parents’ chagrin, I ended up quitting my insurance job, giving up my benefits and company car to work for $5 an hour at an upholstery shop. When I couldn’t afford to work there anymore, I bought my own sewing machine and set up shop in my dining room. After five years, I bought a shop at the corner of Lee and Mayfield (in 1985), where I had six full-time employees. If I plugged along, working seven days a week, until my daughter was in third grade. I downsized and moved the business back into my home in Highland Heights so I could spend more time with her. After my daughter went off to college, I decided I wanted a home with more charm and I moved to Shaker Heights, where I have been now for nine years. (Janet’s restored Tudor has been featured twice on the cover of the Cleveland Restoration Society’s magazine.)
On Working and Living in Shaker Heights: I love being able to live and work in my home. I work every day, because I am so deadline driven. Because this is my home and my business, I can work any time. I can even sew in my pajamas at night. If I have customers from all over, and I find this is a very easy location for people to get to me. Most designers use their own fabrics and have them shipped to me. I belong to Club Fit, which is close by. I actually repaired some of their equipment covers that had tears in them. I also like the pizza at Pizzazz. And I made some of their seat cushions, too. If I love my neighborhood, which is very pedestrian-friendly. It’s so pretty! I never tire of turning down Lomond and seeing the dog walkers, the baby buggies, the street lights, the beautiful homes.
Contact: Janet Basnett, (216) 921-2668, firstname.lastname@example.org.