PHOTOS BY CARRIE ALLEN
The mission of Modern Fabrics in Huntersville is seriously very simple!
“Our company saves the earth, one yard of fabric at a time!” explains Ewa Powell, who owns the truly unique – and truly green – company with her husband, James and their store manager Debra Worthy.
With every purchase of their discounted designer textiles, customers join the couple’s fabric “reclaiming” efforts, geared towards reducing waste, as well as reducing the demand for virgin materials. These reclaimed fabrics are from the finest luxury furniture companies in the United States – and are remnants that would otherwise be discarded. For you, the customer, that means the opportunity to purchase the best designer drapery and upholstery fabrics that have been quietly rescued from cutting room floors – at 50-75% off their list price. That’s a far better choice than discarded remnants ending up in trash bags at the closest landfill!
All their fabrics contribute to qualifying for LEED credits, and selection is continually updated, so always check back if don’t see what you need.
Modern Fabrics is also a prominent online resource for discounted residential decorative fabrics, many sought-after designs from Mid-Century modern, to retro, vinyl, and velvet – all for sale by the yard. You might find one yard, or 100 yards, and shipping is even available to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the EU.
Originally from Warsaw, Poland, Ewa immigrated to Chicago as a pre-teen with her parents, to escape communism.
“After University, I married my husband, James, who is from Florida, and we moved to North Carolina,” says Ewa. “We settled on a farm in Lincolnton, where we lived the original ‘van life’ in an old Airstram trailer,” she says. It was not ideal, Ewa will tell you, but she fell in love with hiking in NC. Being in nature is truly her happy place!
But Modern Fabrics is the other happy place, and the thrill of her job is definitely in the hunt for fabulous fabrics!
“While employees run the store during the week, one of my many jobs is sourcing fabrics for the online shop, and for our Huntersville store,” explains Ewa. Saying she enjoys her job is an enormous understatement, and she is quick to say she absolutely loves finding beautiful pieces of fabric, in the most obscure location, all over North Carolina.
“I travel far and wide to source the fabrics you find at our store, and each bolt has a unique story of where I found it,” smiles Ewa. “But don’t ask me – because it’s a secret!”
“We did business in Charlotte for 13 years, but we had to change locations three times due to the city’s rapid growth,” explains Ewa. “Each building we occupied would eventually be sold!” Between the last Charlotte relocation and the move to Lake Norman, Modern Fabrics temporarily closed for five months, storing all their fabric in a shipping container, and, leaving Ewa and her family fighting back some heartfelt emotions.
Moving to Huntersville required a leap of faith, as they worried former customers might not drive that far (turns out, they do!), and they weren’t sure the business climate was right for a fabric store.
“Luckily, it seems to be working out,” says Ewa. “That was the hardest time we have faced as a small business, and we feel fortunate to be on the other side! In Lake Norman, small business still feels small. Everyone is friendly, takes their time, and is willing just to sit down for a chat.” Plans are also underway for another location in the Hickory/Conover area – coming in 2023.
What can consumers do to also help with textile waste? Ewa suggests buying furniture made of sustainable materials, reusing or reupholstering furniture you currently have, and always donating or re-purposing extra fabric. Ewa loves meeting new people who have turned her fabrics into something wonderful.
“We meet young men who hand make one-of-a-kind cloths like Robert Craig, or young women who work with us to grow their passion for purse making or jewelry creating with some of our remnants,” says Ewa. “Also Michelle Trogdon, who recreates paintings with leather, and my local favorite pillow designer, Judy Brown, who utilizes our leftover trim to make amazing one-of-a-kind pillows.
“Lake Norman feels like ‘old’ North Carolina – small and friendly,” says Ewa. “I hope we never lose that.”
Located at 15435 NC-73, Huntersville, NC, 704-740-9676, Ewa and the Modern Fabrics family can’t wait to meet you! Store hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. You can also shop online at modern-fabrics.com.
Check out some of their favorite repurposing projects: