DeKALB – Before getting laid off for the second time from a corporate job, Sally Davis worked from home and would walk past her quilting room in her house every morning and wish she was doing that instead of working “for someone else’s destiny.”
Now she’s the owner and founder of Aunt Sassy’s Quilts, 866 W. Lincoln Highway in the Junction Shopping Center in DeKalb, and said life is about doing what brings you joy.
“I’m of an age where I don’t want the stress of a corporate job anymore,” Davis said Monday. “I knew before I got laid off it was coming, so I got my ducks in a row and said, ‘OK, what is it you want to do,’ and I wanted to open my own business.”
Though she lives in DeKalb, Davis’ first 1,100-square-foot brick-and-mortar shop was in Geneva, but she hated the winter commute so terribly that she decided to leave May 4 and opened her shop in the new 2,400-square-foot DeKalb location May 28.
“I live here in DeKalb and it just made sense when my lease was up in Geneva and I had to make a decision,” she said. “I was in a space where I just couldn’t expand.”
The shop – which offers classes and project consultations, but also sells fabric – including Huskies-themed for the football aficionados – is aptly named, Davis said.
“It says Sassy there for a reason,” she said. “My niece, when she was little, could not say her L’s. And her other aunt was asking her to name the other family members and she was fed up with the game and looked at me with a ‘duh’ look and said ‘Sassy,’ and my sister plopped on the floor she was laughing so hard. She pointed at me and said ‘She has you pegged.’”
After a busy summer growing her customer base and offering classes, she’s ramping up for the holidays.
“We do classes, consultations, and right now we do fabric, patterns, and we’ll be doing events as we grow and get more settled,” Davis said. “This fall, we’re increasing the number of classes.”
Current class offerings at Aunt Sassy’s Quilts are for what she calls “confident beginners,” for those who know how to use a sewing machine, do a quarter-inch seam and use a rotary cutter.
Prices range from $18 for one session to $72 for a six-session lesson, with various types of quilts and patterns the focal point for students. She also offers open sew sessions the first Friday of every month. She’ll start a beginners class soon, she said, and also offer Christmas ornament workshops the week of Dec. 7.
Davis is mostly self-taught, and along with four, soon-to-be five other instructors, enjoys passing on her skills to others.
“My grandmother quilted, but my mother hated sewing,” she said. “I’m the one that ended up with that skill getting passed down to. It is such a joy to go to work every day. I love doing jigsaw puzzles. And when you get a bunch of fabric together, you take it apart, you put it back together, it’s like a giant, soft jigsaw puzzle.”
And her words of advice to assuage any worry from future quilters who don’t own a machine?
“It’s not rocket science,” she said. “I like the customer and student to get to that ‘Ah ha’ moment. And just be able to see the joy they get. If you walk in cranky, you’re going to leave laughing.”