In Convo with: Emily Madden of OKC's Thready or Knot - 405 Magazine

In Convo with: Emily Madden of OKC’s Thready or Knot

The Fabric of Memories.

Emily Madden with OKC's Thready or Not

Emily Madden of Thready or Knot. Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander.

A beautiful piece of furniture can make a room shine. But over time, trends change, normal wear and tear becomes more obvious and it may be time for grandma’s rocking chair to have a new look. This is where Emily Madden of Thready Or Knot steps in. We sat down with Madden to discuss the art of upholstery and the road she took to starting her successful business.

Home decor pieces upholstered by Emily Madden with Thready or Not in Oklahoma City
Furniture pieces by Emily Madden with Thready or Knot. Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander.

Q: How did you end up doing upholstery?

A: “After high school, I was accepted into a culinary school, but it didn’t feel like the right decision. I was working as a florist and trying to figure out what to do with my life. My friend told me that she was taking an upholstery class at the Canadian Valley Vo-Tech. I didn’t even know what upholstery was, but after she explained it to me and showed me some pictures, I decided to sign up.”

Q: What was that experience like? 

A: “For the class, you provide your own chair and fabric. I bought some tools because I had a gut feeling I would be doing this for a long time. I picked up my first piece off of Craigslist and my instructor told me that it may be difficult, but I loved the chair. I went home crying a few nights, thinking I had messed up, and I was afraid to cut the expensive fabric I had picked. The chair ended up turning out really well.”

Emily Madden of Thready or Knot at work.
Emily Madden of Thready or Knot at work. Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander.

Q: Did you just jump right into starting a business?

A: “No, I ended up taking the same course several times, working on a different project each class. I would post pictures on Facebook and my mom’s friends would ask me to work on their furniture, so that’s how I acquired pieces each class. I worked on projects part time until 2017, when I went on a year-long humanitarian trip, traveling the world. When I came back, I found out people had been waiting for me to return to work on their pieces — and that’s when I started working full time as Thready Or Knot.”

Q: What is the process like to have a piece re-upholstered? 

A: “Clients contact me with pictures of the piece and we chat about measurements and how much fabric they should purchase. I like my clients to purchase the fabric themselves so they get exactly what they want. I will make suggestions and offer options to customize the piece to make it perfect for each client. I usually work with clients who know what they want and I try to bring that vision to life. After they buy their fabric, they go on my waiting list, which is about a four-month wait right now.”

Emily Madden of Thready or Knot in her studio.
Emily Madden of Thready or Knot in her studio. Charlie Neuenschwander.

Q: What is your favorite thing about this kind of work? 

A: “I like being a younger woman in a traditionally male-dominated industry. I’m really good at what I do and I like transforming pieces into works of art. I have so many people reach out to me wanting me to re-upholster furniture that has been passed down from generation to generation. People trust me with their family’s furniture and I’m restoring it so that it can be used for future generations. When I take it apart, I can tell how many people have re-upholstered it in the past, and I’m honored to be a part of that history.”

Q: What else is on your horizon? 

A: “I’ve been using upholstery techniques to make fine art. Starting March 8, I have an art show at Equity Brewing Company in Norman and there will also be a Thready Or Knot beer collaboration on tap. Later this year I’ll have art up at Elemental Coffee, and will actually have a chair hanging from the ceiling.”

Emily Madden at work on her latest project with Thready or Not.
Emily Madden at work on her latest project with Thready or Knot. Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander.

For more information visit @ThreadyOrKnot on Instagram.

Interested in more local furniture crafted by locals? Check out this article on Marking Tree Desing’s Natural Tables.