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Nan Webb of Murray Hill Bolt & Spool

Meet Nan Webb, founder of Murray Hill Bolt & Spool, an upscale fabric and sewing boutique in Little Italy with two employees and two contract seamstresses.
The store features unique fabric, embroidered ribbon, European and Japanese trims, handmade clothes and accessories and, soon, sewing classes
What was your career path?
I always knew I wanted to go into business for myself. I graduated with a journalism degree from Ohio University and went to work for a small publishing company in Solon. Although I really loved what I was doing, I decided to earn my MBA from CWRU and graduated in 1996 with an emphasis in finance. I worked in corporate banking at KeyBank. I really enjoyed dressing up, getting coffee and going to lunch with my friends, but that was the extent of my affection for the corporate world.
In 2007, I attended a Ladies Who Launch incubator that was transformational. It helped me pinpoint my passion for fabric and gave me the vision for moving forward with a fabric boutique. In 2010 I started looking for retail space in the Heights area. I found a small room in the old school house on Murray Hill.
Why did you start your business?
I needed an outlet for being creative and loved the idea of sharing the color, texture, and design that I’ve seen in my travels. I knew it would be a small clientele to start, but with the recent surge in things like scrapbooking and knitting, I was ready for the resurgence in sewing. Folks clearly need an escape from technology and virtual creativity and actually experience the satisfaction of making something with their own two hands.
How long have you been sewing?
I’ve been sewing since I was little, maybe six or seven years old. My mom was a reluctant sewer, but my older sisters were always making clothes and dresses for high school dances. I would sew Barbie clothes with their scraps. I’ve never had an actual sewing lesson.
What motivates you to go into work each day?
The possibility of creating something that’s never been made before motivates me to go to work. When I wake up I know that all of those beautiful textures, colors and ribbons are waiting for me. I also love all of the customers who come in and are so excited to have discovered Bolt & Spool and are eager to start their own projects.
Can you share an entrepreneurial experience?
Of all the things I enjoy about working for myself, the greatest has been the relationships I’ve made with vendors around the world. However, the best has turned out to be just down the street. About the same time I opened the shop, two women in Cleveland Heights were launching a design company specializing in children’s sewing patterns. Their line has been my best seller.  I discovered another great relationship with the mom of one of my son’s friends. She recently established an organic clothing company. We talk about fabric and share sources all the time.
It’s just been fabulous finding such like-minded folks in my business within the Cleveland community.

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