Veteran Supplier Cwirko Switches Roles
Home & Textiles Today Staff -- Home Textiles Today, June 22, 2009
After years of selling home textiles to retailers, Kathleen Cwirko-Spero is celebrating the one-year anniversary this month of owning her own independent specialty retail business.
Cwirko-Spero left her position as director of Scandia Down last year to launch Collection Maison. After more than 25 years dealing with large volume customers at WestPoint Stevens and Mohawk Home, among others, the Scandia Down position allowed her to work with fine luxury boutiques, gleaning valuable information to assist in her entrepreneurial startup.
“The shop enables me to relate with my customers in such a deep and personal way. Now I am less than two minutes from my two teenage children, Cooper and Chloe. I can serve on the Harding Township and Madison Education Foundations participate in Garden Club activities and take on a role with the local Historical Society. This was virtually impossible when I was calling in from airports throughout the world,” she said.
Cwirko-Spero is also an adjunct professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology. An alumna of the school, she actively participated in the creation of the “best in class” home products curriculum. “In many ways, I consider myself to be an educator at heart. I work with students to introduce them to the latest trends in design, retail and product innovation and am always working with industry designers, too, to let them know what my clients are looking for in very specific ways,” she said.
Collection Maison, a luxury home furnishings boutique, highlights the talent of local artists. Painters, jewelry designers, knitters and seamstresses are always featured and nurtured in the shop. It has become a sort of business incubator for the country cottage industries in rural New Vernon and surrounding Morris and Somerset Counties.
“Now I’m a neighbor, a mom, a small business owner, a friend. The shop has become the home away from home for so many dynamic and talented local women and friends,” said Cwirko-Spero. “That energy and excitement keeps all of us focused on feeding our potential. We cheer each other on.”
Collection Maison features many of the leading luxury bed and bath brands, including Sferra, Anichini, SDH, Scandia Down, Pine Cone Hill and Abyss and Habidecor. Several of the companies Cwirko-Spero works with are populated by former students from her FIT classes as well as industry associates from her tenure in the corporate world.
On weekends this summer, she will be nurturing an incubator launched off Collection Maison. The Three Chicks Art in the Yard Sale will feature the work of local artists and home products designers on a small farm in Wayne County, Pa. In the fall, Cwirko-Spero will return to running Collection Maison full time.
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