Monday, February 23, 2015

Reports of Demise Premature!!

I am reposting what I posted to my Cabinet of Curiosities course late last week when we all found out that there had been a fire at the Lyon-region plant of Au Ver a Soie.  Apparently people have been passing around a story that paints a much more dire and incorrect picture.  So I wanted to get out there and help correct it.  If you have a chance - jump over to their Facebook site and give them a few words of encouragement!  I know it has meant a lot to them to hear that everyone in the needlework world cares.


Hello everyone - I thought I would jump in and add some information before panic runs amuck. Au Ver a Soie is wounded but not devastated. We talked to Nathalie this morning about the extent and will learn much more early next week after Marc can better access the plant. Marc and Nathalie are brother and sister and the current members of the Boucher family to run Au Ver a Soie.

This is terrible loss for Au Ver a Soie because it is on the heals of the loss of Marc and Nathalie's mother in December and their beloved and silk expert Uncle a few months prior (mentioned in the French news article). I hadn't talked about those losses - as they seemed private.

The one thing to know is that this is a family that is devoted to the production of silk and has suffered much deeper losses in the past that they had to rebound from. In fact, their entire factory was bombed by the American's by mistake in WWII and they had to totally rebuild - and did. This is something that is a bonus about ancient family businesses, they often take the long view and this will be something that they come back from. One of the things that they had realized from the former disaster is the importance to distribute the expertise, machinery and stock to ward against singular disasters bringing down a company and had planned for that wisely over the years. While the capability at this plant was severely damaged - they have a network of machines, partners, etc around France they work with who can help them weather this as well as who were already doing some of the braiding and other things we enjoy in our threads. Stock was distributed in multiple places too - phew. That of course has been a benefit to the Cabinet of Curiosities - if they didn't have the machinery to make me something, they knew who did and could coordinate. So, being in the know a bit, I am confident that we are not in imminent danger because of how distributed the manufacturing, dying, and post operations were - especially on our threads.

This will certainly delay some of the new threads I was working on with Au Ver a Soie and we won't know the extent for awhile. And I am sure that some random color will be scarce for a few weeks at some point as delays hit, but it will only be temporary. I am not as concerned about the machinery losses - an example being a new skeining machine that was destroyed - as I know that operation is done at Access for the US threads (we prefer a different size/packaging in this market). So some capability losses won't impact us as they are already shifted to machinery here. What I am concerned about is time. In any small business, there isn't an excess of labor and so things like this delay new initiatives in favor of getting basic operations back running. I know that the time I have to take to shovel snow are hours not spent shipping or working on new things. It will be the same for Au Ver a Soie, with some things taking longer to get back to and thus some new yummies we may have been hopping for will be delayed a bit.

So I am sure you will hear about the fire in the future from me as the reason something is delayed - but don't fear - it isn't about a total loss of capabilities, it is more about a diversion of valuable time until they get this few weeks or months out of the way. I do know already that I can plan in a bit more time on the frostings launch, we already had another delay just two weeks ago on another front -- but that is business.

What you can do though is express to Marc and Nathalie support of the embroiderers who love their materials and efforts. Their mother passed away from a long battle with cancer and it really took a toil on them emotionally. So I am sure they could use some 'appreciation' at the moment. Perhaps a card with a picture of an embroidery of yours using their threads - or one in progress. Let them know that you so appreciate their dedication to fine, quality materials and supporting this course. They are lovely people!

Marc Boucher and Nathalie Borhorel

Au Ver a Soie

102 rue Reaumur

75002 Paris


An additional note - I believe that 2020 will be the 200th anniversary of the company and I really look forward to the celebration when this fire will be but a distant memory!


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