We got a chance to spend brunch with Leah Darling, the darling owner of boutique upholstery shop Beving & Dall. You might not guess it from the fancy fabrics and victorian shapes, but Leah Darling is not only funny, but she's totally your neighborhood upholsterer, one who is currently enrolled in a 6-week automotive upholstery program in rural Pennsylvania meant for, well, not high-end designers but tradesmen. Leah and I shared Lemon Souffle Pancakes and a Veggie Fritatta at Fire after spending time shopping North Union Farmer's Market. Between bites of pancakes and sips of coffee, I got down to the detail with Leah about why she loves what she does, how she got into business and what she's planning for 2018.
When did you know this was a passion for you?
I always dabbled in different artistic interests. I would get excited about a hobby, exhaust it, grow bored and move on to something new. This creative cycle continued for years but something happened to me when I discovered furniture reupholstery. The process keeps me intrigued. Every project is new and even after 6 years in the trade I still get excited to see a finished product.
When did you officially become a business?
What were a few of your personal favorite projects?
Last year I designed and fabricated a set of dining chairs using a woven technique for the seat support and back rest. I chose electric-colored paracord and black macrame cording for the weaving. I kept this project stashed away in my brain for a long time -- it was so exciting to finally see it manifested in the real.
What did you do to prepare for this type of career?
My career started with a craigslist ad and a youtube video! A few years after college I took a year off from my career path and on a whim I applied to a craigslist ad for a part time upholstery job in Elizabeth, CO. Prior to applying for the position I had only had a brief experience with upholstery -- redoing simple projects for around my apartment. The night before my interview I watched several upholstery how-to videos on YouTube. Amazingly the first project for my interview was exactly the material I researched the night before! I got the job and started two days a week. In a couple months I was working full-time.
Who influences your design / aesthetic?
I am largely influenced by cross-cultural experiences and the people I meet abroad.
Do you have any personal heroes?
Is it too cliche to say my parents? At one point in time both of my parents owned small businesses. I grew up under the influence of two extremely driven people and their work ethic has always been an inspiration to me. I derived my business name after family names from both my mom's side and my dad's.
What are some of the biggest obstacles you've faced? (and overcome)
I work almost exclusively on my own. Consequently, I have had to overcome a lot of self-doubt.
What's next for you?
Textile design! I am very passionate about creating beautiful interior spaces with unique furniture and interesting textiles.
What's one of your biggest goals for Beving & Dall?
In-house manufacturing for furniture and textiles.
What do you find the most tough part about running your business now?
Finding skilled craftsmen and women. Do you know anyone?
How can people find / shop you?
My studio is located in Chardon, OH and open by appointment only.
What were your inspirations for the chairs you had done for me?
Palm prints always feel effortless to me. Since I completely restored the chairs internally I wanted to give them the same fresh look on the outside.