"Solarado" means "our sunny place in Colorado" where we, Judy and Don Fite, design and hand-make a variety of products, including custom apparel, rugs, crochet and woodcraft items. We like to think that each article we make carries a little of "our sunny place" within it.
The initiation of our business in 1992 was an outgrowth of others' response to things we made for ourselves, and we have applied our personal standards to everything we make. As a result, we have established a solid reputation for quality, value and customer satisfaction, and word-of-mouth referrals have fostered continuing growth - we presently have clients in 48 states plus 8 foreign countries.
People always ask, "Who does your sewing?" and are amazed that all of it is done by Judy herself. Then they ask, "Well, if you do all that, what does Don do?" to which she replies with a laugh, "Everything I don't!" Both of us work out the designs and choose the fabrics. Don hand-makes the nickel and penny buttons, pre-washes the washable fabrics before cutting, constructs our display stands, hand-crafts the weathered wood frames, and manages pricing and logistics. Judy does the cutting, fitting, sewing, photography and book work. As she often says, there is plenty of work to go around, so it takes a complete partnership to make it work - and make it fun!
We are also frequently asked how we got started in business: We had moved to Colorado in 1988 after retiring from professional careers with the Army (Don was a helicopter pilot and an officer involved in research, development and testing of weapon systems; Judy was a civilian, first serving as an aviation program integrator and later was head of weapon system acquisition policy for the Army)… We were building our log house, with our own hands, and as Fall turned to Winter we needed something comfortable to work in that kept us warm while leaving our arms free. Judy designed jacket-vests with deep pockets, made from heavy denim and logger flannel, and we liked them so much that we thought, "If we made these with classy material, we could wear them to town!" So she did, and people would stop us on the street and ask where to get a vest like that. After the house was built, she began making capotes, jackets and coats for us using the same design approach, with the same reaction from people on the street, until we were finally pressed into making them for sale.
This was a big step for Judy, who had only sewed for family before, and does not use commercial patterns for cutting and fitting. But we soon learned that people-at-large greatly appreciated our custom approach to size and fit, along with the durability of double-sewn, flat-bound seams, and understood that the unique panel/frame design offers benefits in comfort as well as streamlined appearance. (In other words, the same characteristics that made us like them so much appealed to others the same way.) And so, the business was born.
We started small, consigning in mountain-town shops, then began doing a few arts and crafts shows, and the business steadily grew to the maximum that we can handle. We made a conscious decision not to grow to the point that we have to hire a staff, because we want to maintain the quality, individuality, and creative satisfaction of doing our own work. It's been a great ride, and we've never looked back!
Life ahead: The full-time business pace finally outgrew our own pace, so we have discontinued some aspects of our busines like participating in craft shows. Instead, we offer our goods “still on the rack” for direct sale, and focus on direct/custom orders as appropriate. We also have an ample supply of fabrics in stock that may be purchased as yard goods for your own use, as well as be considered for custom orders for our apparel.
In addition, we have encountered frequent interest in projects which – just like our handcrafted apparel – were originally developed for personal purposes. So, be sure to visit the Products, Rack Stock, Fabric Room, and Future Corner sections of our website to see what may trigger your curiosity or whet your appetite! To place orders or ask questions, just contact us by phone and/or email and we’ll take it from there. Phone 970-323-6721, email firstname.lastname@example.org.