“I’ll be returning to Peru in February or March of next year. I’m very low on fabric,” said Abby Pratt this afternoon. She was cutting out gorgeously, colorful pieces of wool that will be turned into stunning pillow covers. “I’ll get through the holidays okay, but after that I need to go back for a refill.” The creative Abby will sell them either on-line through her web page, at the black rental boxes or at local fairs. Abby’s pillows come in a variety of sizes made with one-of-a-kind fabrics that have sold well this holiday season.
Everything she learned about upholstery, Abby learned while employed at the nearby Pistol Pete’s Upholstery Shop on Marion Street. She worked there for three years. That experience gave her the skills she needs to pursue this challenge. Back in 2010, Abby was in Guatemala photographing women weavers working in cooperatives. The women were mostly widows who had to support themselves and their children. At that time, she was not going into the textile business, but that changed at Pistol Pete’s a few years ago.
Last February, Abby went to Peru – the Cuzco region if you are familiar with it – to select textiles to purchase. Many of the people speak Quechua, a dialect that Abby does not know. The irresistible fabrics are made with all natural dies. Women use insects and plants for example. She said that the negotiations were accomplished with a lot of hand gestures. Abby came back loaded down with four gigantic LL Bean duffle bags – each weighing about 90 lbs. They were full of colorful hand-made textiles from the cooperatives there. Next year she will be ready for a return trip.
But a caution here: Abby’s stay at 93 Washington Avenue is temporary and will end at the end of 2018. She will be open until December 22, because she will be going home for Christmas. After Christmas, she will be open for a few days before New Years Day. Check her instagram account for more specifics. Abby is temporarily occupying the unit used by “All Those Who Wander” a coffee shop whose owners vacated the premises and returned home to Rhode Island. Prices range from around $85.00 per pillow to just over $100.00.
Eventually, Abby would like to expand her business to employ sewers working for her. She can see a studio with about five employees replicating her work. But that is still in the future, something that may not be that far off.
Abby, an East Bayside resident, is a cousin of Will Pratt, co-owner of Tandem Coffee.