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@Work: Fabric in Motion

Nov. 4, 2004 – Linen, cotton and silk. These natural fabrics are strong, durable, versatile, wearable and comfortable. What you'll find when you walk into Fabric in Motion are yards upon yards of checked, striped, floral and solid fabrics in high-quality linen, cotton and silk. Colors range from bright and tropical to more muted tones.
"I think because we're a specialty shop we carry better linens, cottons, and silks and unusual fabrics. We're very quality conscious," Cerene Johnson, owner of Fabric in Motion, said. "Most of my specialty fabric is imported from Europe. I carry a lot of Italian linens."
Johnson and her customers like to use natural fabrics to make clothes because they breathe better for the islands. Although polyester blends may be easier to take care of, she said they take the "cool" out of fabrics. "Linen is very pretty when it crinkles. People who come in saying they don't want linen because it wrinkles too much leave with linen in their package," she said. "The old saying goes, 'if it doesn't wrinkle, then it's not linen.'"
Along with the fabrics, Johnson sells a small line of ready-to-wear clothes in linens and silks, and she also sells samples she makes with the fabrics in the store. "There are not a lot of professional seamstresses available, so the fabric business is not as popular as it used to be," Johnson said. "You definitely can't afford to have a single merchandise. You have to be versatile."
To that end, Fabric in Motion also carries fashion jewelry, evening bags, leather bags, silk neckties, straw hats and lots of other accessories. There's even upholstery fabric available by special order. And, of course, all the sewing notions you can think of.
Johnson hasn't always been in the fabric business. She worked for a large insurance company in the United States for 20 years. As a telecommunications coordinator, she traveled all over the world, but Johnson says she wanted something different.
"When the company started to downsize, I took the opportunity to do what I wanted to do," she said. "I always had in the back of my mind that I would start my own business. I guess if you want it bad enough it happens."
That was 16 years ago. She's been running her own business ever since. "In order to stay in business, you have to be creative, concentrate on your customers, give good service and cross your fingers," Johnson, who serves a clientele made up of 65 percent locals and 35 percent tourists, said.
Fabric in Motion is located in downtown Charlotte Amalie on Tvaar Gade, right around the corner from the Greenhouse. Store hours are from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

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