Hi, I'm Liv.I was raised on a homestead just outside of Manhattan, Kansas. I didn’t realize it at the time, but not everyone grows up with chickens, goats, and rabbits out back and a wood stove as the only source of heat through the winter. In every moment, I was surrounded by people who were resourceful and able to create most things from scratch. My dad had a garden each year, and with his own hands and skill, built the houses and hutches for the animals. My mom kept Angora rabbits and Angora goats. My eagerness to learn landed me right beside her, learning how to spin, dye, weave, knit, felt and crochet those natural fibers. My mother also taught me to make braided wool rugs and taught me other resourceful skills such as embroidery, latch hook, locker hook, and cross-stitch. Though immensely talented with yarn, my mom was no seamstress. She gave me lessons on sewing machine basics and left me to figure the rest out. My next best resource was the public library. I dabbled in doll making and continued sewing various projects through high school, but never meddled past basic curtains or pillows.Quilting entered my sphere after a meaningful visit to the Beach Museum at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kansas. The museum was featuring an exhibit of historical Kansas quilts and it completely pulled me in. I marveled at how women who were so busy just getting through each day somehow found time to hand stitch these works of art. I went straight home and started on my very first quilt. I still have it, and I can tell you it’s no beauty, but it was the first of many. That was in 1999 and I have never looked back. Making things, fixing things, and giving things new life is where my business and my life roots itself. Where others may find hassle in old things, I am consumed with resourcefulness and ingenuity. When I went to college, I was given a box of kitchen supplies, including a chrome toaster that was made in the 1950’s. It worked great until 2012 and then one of the elements burned out. It could still toast one and a half pieces of bread just fine, so I decided to see if it could be fixed. The repair person told me it would cost $80. You can buy four decent toasters for $80, but why not try and fix it? We are quick to toss. That toaster had already worked great for 60 years with no trouble and I wasn’t willing to put a 3/4 perfectly fine toaster into the landfill in exchange for a $20 one that would break in less than 5 years. So, I fixed it. I have a deep appreciation for the history and quality of old things. I'm of the opinion that one should use what one has and repair it until it is completely used up. I don't believe in buying just to accumulate. I hope that if you must buy something new, you'll buy the best quality, so it will last. That’s what Fenceline Fabrics is about. It’s a small shop, but it has things that are sustainably well-made. If I can help you learn how to do something for yourself and give you the resources to do it, I call that success.
We sell fabric, but it's all so we can take care of people.
We're definitely not perfect, but the goal is to always be offering better quality fabrics and finding better sources while treating the planet and its people better too. We have a small staff of amazing people and we want this job to be just one healthy part of a balanced life. Our goal is to make sure we have a fun and fair workplace so your fabric will be full of good energy. Thank you for supporting a few great folks in Kansas, USA.
Our Part In Making The World Better Than We Found It
Here's the Fenceline actionable list that I'm sure will keep growing:
1. Constantly be seeking out more sustainable fabrics with more transparent supply chains. Textiles are tightly interwoven with racial, labor and safety issues. It's incredibly difficult to source fabric that isn't damaging in some way. We're working to always do better.
2. Amplify and celebrate marginalized sewists. Please tag us in your Fenceline makes because we'd love to repost (with all due credit and with your permission). We don't want to randomly post people of color or those in the LGBTQIA community to our feed without an authentic connection, that just feels gross.
3. Be a good neighbor. When and wherever we have opportunities to purchase goods or services from businesses run by folks in marginalized groups, we'll do it. At the very least, we'll support small, sustainable and local.
4. Cast a wider net when hiring. Most jobs happen through networking, but this is a majority white town in northeast Kansas. I need to use more than word of mouth to find new hires.
5. Take care of our people: I can't provide the pay and benefits I think my employees should have. Yet. But I'm taking baby steps. We are getting closer to a living wage, and I, the CEO, have the lowest pay on staff until that happens.
6. Donate 5% of profits to the Manhattan Arts Center each month. They happen to be our neighbor across the street and I know that the MAC saves lives. That seems strange to say, but their mission of "Arts for All," is profoundly important. They provide a place where people who may not fit in elsewhere can be included and feel safe. They make art accessible to the most marginalized groups in our community and make a point of representing diverse artists in their galleries and theater productions. I served on their Board of Directors for 2 years and was part of their finance committee, so I know they utilize every penny (and Penny 😉) in the wisest way possible.
Visit A Thrifty Notion to see how our sister store helps in other ways.
Thank you for your patience as we keep learning and trying to do better.
✊🏼 ❤️ ✊🏽 🏳️🌈 ✊🏾 🌍 ✊🏿
~ Liv & the Fenceline Crew