2011 marks the tenth anniversary of Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics in Tamarac, Florida.
In addition to upscale fabric, patterns and notions that include antique lace, hand made buttons and Swarovski crystal, Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics carries a full line of Pfaff and Baby Lock sewing machines, sergers and embroidery machines as well as custom made cabinetry to enhance the efficiency of sewing rooms of all sizes.
Customers searching for unique patters are delighted to find original patterns from designers like Loes Hensa, Palmer Pletsch and Louise Cutting.
Cynthia’s is possibly South Florida’s most reliable source for machine embroidery software, including retired Pfaff software and software from Anita Goodesign, Floriani, Cactus Punch and Sue Box Creations.
In their efforts to provide absolutely everything any home sewer could possibly need, the owners of Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics also offer sewing classes taught by local and world renowned sewing professionals like Walter Floriani.
Classes include pattern fitting, skirt tailoring, shirt making, and handbags. A children’s sewing camp is offered during the summer months.
Since opening the doors on September 7, 2001, Cynthia Dmitrenko has seen her upscale fabric store overcome some difficult challenges. For starters, the attack on the World Trade Center took place just two days after the grand opening. No one was prepared for the aftermath of that devastating event.
People stayed at home in droves, venturing out only when absolutely necessary.
Many returned to the activities that brought them comfort in the past; and sewing was near the top of the list. However, people were going to familiar vendors, leaving Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics out in the cold.
As soon as things began to turn around, South Florida was hit by the hurricane seasons of 2004 and 2005. Hurricane Frances hit first, taking the roof off the building.
Then, in the following year, Hurricane Wilma knocked out the lights for nearly two weeks.
She was surrounded by homes that had sustained major structural damage. It was clear that money that may have been set aside for sewing machines had to be diverted to restoring homes to livable conditions. Through it all, Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics weathered the storm.
Before long, the shop nestled in a strip mall on the southeast corner of University Drive and NW 82nd Street began to get the attention of sewing enthusiasts throughout South Florida.
Eventually, word spread to the nearby Caribbean Islands, and even Central and South America. Today, Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics caters to customers from as far away as Brazil.
While Cynthia will be the first to admit that there is no such thing as a ‘typical day’ at Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics, she will agree that her days are filled with interesting and diverse clients.
Her practice of giving everyone her personal attention makes each and every customer feel as if they are the most important person in the world.
She admits that “a busy day does not necessarily mean a busy sales day;” and recounts the events of one day as follows:
“The day started with a customer who wanted help organizing embroidery library on a computer; followed by a customer who wanted a demo on serger; then another who brought in her computer because she needed help with some new embroidery software.
Next was a customer who had purchased a new machine. Cynthia takes time to unpack the machine with the customer and personally checks check everything out, making sure all accessories are there.
After that customer, she helped someone else with problem getting their software to function properly.
At Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics, anyone can bring in any sewing machine, serger, and embroidery or quilting machine regardless of where they purchased it.
Cynthia’s motto is “you get more with honey than with vinegar,” and adds, “It does not matter where customers get their machines, I will work with and help anyone with a question.”
She recalls that when she started, people brought in machines that they’d had for many years. Some people never purchase machines from her, but they do come in for service and purchase other merchandise form her… some in great volumes.
She shared the story of one customer who lives in the Bahamas. This woman has never purchased a sewing machine from Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics, but she has purchased everything else for her sewing room.
Cynthia Dmitrenko’s story started sometime during the 12 years she spent teaching Home Economics in South Florida public schools.
She had dreamed of working with beautiful fabrics and took a job working in an upscale Palm Beach fabric shop during her summer breaks.
She also spent five years researching the business; subscribing to professional publications; attending conferences; joining organizations like the American Home Sewing Association; and taking courses.
She earned her certification as a Palmer/Pletsch instructor, mastering the art of teaching pattern fitting, beginning sewing and serging.
Before giving up teaching altogether to fulfill her dream, Cynthia signed on with SCORE – the Service Corps of Retired Executives – who helped her secure a loan from the Small business Administration to help jump start her business.
Although the timing of the opening was not ideal, Cynthia acknowledges that the uptick in the sewing market in general has been helpful.
Today, four part-time employees, help make Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics the sewing destination that it has become, including her brother, Hank Smith, who is primarily responsible for machine servicing and repair.
Customers come to Cynthia for all their sewing room needs, including cabinetry, storage units and irons. After selling Pfaff sewing equipment exclusively for eight years, Cynthia expanded her line to include Baby Lock sergers and embroidery machines.
Her sewing machine inventory ranges from the high the top of the Pfaff line – the Creative Vision – to the Grace by Baby Lock which goes for about $499.
Her best seller is the Pfaff Coverlock 3.0, with a retail cost of approximately $1,000.
While she believes the Creative Vision is ideal for intermediate to advanced sewers, Cynthia recommends that new sewers of all ages start with the Grace because it is so easy to operate.
She points out that service calls for nearly all of the machines sold in her shop are just cleaning.
She adds that typically when a sewing machine is brought in for repair, it is mainly because it has not been serviced, adding that electronic machines must be brought in for servicing on a regular basis.
“It does not matter what brand it is, if the mechanic does not remove all of the covers and take the head off the base to thoroughly clean the machine, it could stop functioning properly, and even become a fire hazard. especially if it is an electronic machine.”
Cynthia went on to add that mechanical sewing machines, those without a motherboard, are excellent for environments where there is a lot of moisture, such as on board a cruise ship.
She advises home sewers to consider the amount of electricity used in their sewing rooms when selecting a sewing machine.
If they turn on have on an iron, television, serger and electronic sewing machine, all at the same time, their sewing machine may not be able to operate at full capacity because it takes more wattage to operate than mechanical machines. A drain on electricity could result in embroidery designs not coming out looking right.
Cynthia warns, “A bear might end up with a nose where an ear should be. There isn’t anything wrong with the machine it’s a problem with the amount of electricity available in your sewing room.”
To kick off a year of celebrations to mark Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics tenth anniversary year, customers were invited to guess how many buttons were in a jar placed in the front of the store.
The grand prize was a Pfaff Creative Vision sewing and embroidering machine valued at $10,000. Second prize, a Sofia Baby Lock was won by a woman who was once a student who took Cynthia’s Home Economics class at Silver Lakes Middle School in Lauderdale Lakes, Florida.
As the year progresses and September 7th draws near, additional festivities will be taking place. The future looks bright and sunny for this South Florida sewing emporium as Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics looks ahead to bigger and brighter things unfolding in the years to come.
Cynthia’s Fine Fabrics is located at 8129 N University Drive, Tamarac, FL 33321. The telephone number is 954.724.2900. Store hours are 10AM until 6PM Monday through Friday and 10AM to 5PM on Saturdays.
Visit them on the web at cyhthiasfinefabrics.com.
We would like to thank Cynthia for the interview and for lending us various sewing machines for reviews!
Update: Cynthia has renovated the store – please check it out.