COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing impacted the lives of people all around the world in various different ways. For Nicki Voss, it initiated the start of her small business, TextilePop, a quilt making and sewing class business.
Inspiration and Creative Process
One day Voss was walking along the Santa Clara River Trail and observed that, at a time of uncertainty, one thing remained constant: nature. Voss grew up going on camping trips with her family as a young girl, which taught her to appreciate her surroundings and the outside.
Although the leaves change colors with the seasons, nature never truly changes, said Voss.
“There was something just very comforting about (it) in that time period … I started to (think) like, ‘How can I wrap myself in the landscape? How could I fold myself in the landscape?’” Voss said as she mimicked covering her body with a blanket.
Voss grabbed her camera, went to the Los Angeles Griffith Park Observatory, and captured the scenic view of the iconic buildings that have appeared in numerous films and other pop culture mediums. She then began to translate the photograph of downtown Los Angeles onto cloth.
The quilt, titled “Downtown Los Angeles Quilt,” was made from 583 individually cut pieces of new fabric. Each piece intentionally placed in the perfect location to create a contemporary art quilt.
Voss’ mother began to teach her how to sew at the age of 5. She quickly found a passion for creating things out of fabric and continued to nurture her talent. She attended California Institute of the Arts as an art major and received both her bachelor’s and master of fine arts degrees.
“During that whole time I was still sewing, making clothes, quilting, making pillows. Anything you could sew, I made,” Voss said.
She began to think about how she could derive the structured geometry and preformed templates for quilt making and subvert it, bringing it into the contemporary arena, Voss said.
“The thing that I love about quilts and fabric in general is the tactile quality of them,” said Voss. “They’re also sound-absorbing and because of their very nature, their softness, they have an appeal that is kind of instantaneous.”
Voss has created numerous contemporary art quilts following her initial one. They all range from bright colors to earth tones. Voss’ creations have derived from her photographs of California’s diverse landscapes such as oak trees, the Central Coast, Death Valley, the eastern Sierra dusk, and the California poppies.
“I will frequently take a photo or have a photo in my photo library that I can’t stop thinking about. I then start to think about how I could make that into a cloth piece. Once I’ve decided on the photo, and the composition, and I’ve gathered all my materials … from that point on, three weeks,” Voss said as to how long it takes her to create a quilt from start to finish.
The quilts’ price range is from $950 to $3,600.
After working at CalArts for many years, Voss found herself wanting to do something different. She always wanted to start a business.
“I had the desire to do that (begin a business) but had been a little bit afraid or hadn’t really figured out what I was doing,” Voss said.
Voss took online classes through College of the Canyons to learn more about the ins and outs of how to run a business.
“It was absolutely inspiring. I learned so much. I went through everything from introduction to business e-commerce, accounting, marketing … all of the nuts and bolts,” Voss said. “Then the idea started to formulate itself.”
With the valuable guidance of two advisors from the Small Business Development Center at COC, she felt she had nothing to lose. “If I don’t try, I’ll never know,” she said.
Launching TextilePop in 2021, she began to implement a teaching component through the city of Santa Clarita.
“That part has just been really, really rewarding.”
Voss offers a variety of course options for individuals of all ages interested in learning how to sew. She teaches both hand sewing and sewing machine classes at Valencia Glen Park. She also offers private lessons at her creative studio in Old Town Newhall, where she gets to connect and focus on what exactly the student wants to learn.
The lack of knowledge about sewing is what initiated her to want to teach. Voss said that people no longer learn manual arts like they once used to. Classes such as wood shop and home economics have disappeared altogether in multiple schools’ curricula and, as someone growing up sewing, she knows how important the skill is.
“Something as simple as making a knot in a piece of thread, or sewing a button suddenly becomes a mystery,” Voss said.
She said that, often, people throw away clothes that can easily be fixed if people don’t know how to sew. Voss recalled that one of her previous students once brought a ton of socks that had multiple holes. Instead of throwing them away, he fixed them during Voss’ class so he could reuse them.
“We want to learn how to think intuitively and work creatively … I feel as though I’m also providing a counterbalance to the digital content or to the way that we think we have to, (to) be creative when it can come from yourself, your brain and your hands,” Voss said.
Voss simultaneously teaches classes, creates original contemporary quilts, and commission work, creatively challenging herself while embracing her small business, TextilePop, and learning how to navigate the new endeavor.
In the future she hopes to hire individuals who can help her with the technical factors in running a business so she can focus more on the creative work. She also just began to dive into the wholesale industry where she will produce original work and have it made overseas. Products are planned to include kitchen towels, tea towels, and more.
For more information about Nicki Voss and Textilepop you can visit www.textilepop.com.