George W. Davis
GREEN — From being born in South Africa to creating a bright and colorful worldwide business in her adopted Green has been a lifelong journey for dreamer, quilter, teacher, designer and globe-trotting traveler Sue Spargo.
The founder and chief executive of Sue Spargo Folk-Art Quilts at 3755 Boettler Oaks Drive, Suite B, Spargo takes pride in all she and her family and staff have accomplished over the last 20 years.
Spargo’s business has grown from a startup in her home’s basement to a 12,000-square-foot facility with two other locations in between that the business outgrew.
She now has 23 full- and part-time employees at her lone facility, including three of her four offspring. Daughter Kelly and son Jason are listed as corporate secretaries, with Kelly in charge of the firm’s large website and Jason in charge of production. Daughter Aimee is the corporate treasurer and graduate of both Youngstown State and Cleveland State universities. Son Andrew is a Kent State University alum and a fashion designer in New York City. Jason and Andrew are both Green High graduates.
The mother of four was not only raised in South Africa, she has lived in England, Connecticut, Tennessee and other locales before choosing to settle in Green primarily because of the quality reputation of Green’s school system “and the community quickly felt like home,” she said.
A nurse in Johannesburg before starting her global journey, Spargo is a self-taught quilter and designer, who has learned from others and taught both at home and in many parts of the world, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada and a little bit in Europe. Portugal is her next destination, she revealed.
The artist specializes in hand-dyed wool, wool embroidery and wool applique and has a hand-dying wool shop along with a large classroom, offices and retail store and gift shop in her complex, which is managed by Green High graduate Abby Sexton.
Store hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday. The facility is closed Sunday and Monday.
With the siblings handling day-to-day operations, Spargo is able to travel, which she loves, and teach her techniques and design throughout the U.S. and overseas while seeing the world after the one- to six-day classes.
Spreading her fame, Spargo and her team use the website, word of mouth and repeat business to sell their fabrics, including velvets, embroidery materials, gift items and all other artisan supplies for quilters, along with books. She started a block of the month program long before it became so popular, and she has published more than 25 books on her products and techniques.
Spargo explained that a lot of her supplies are branded products made in this country while “we have a lot of different threads from many places in the world like Germany, Canada, South Africa and Japan. And we also have our manufactured thread line that is produced in Asia through a Canadian company.”
Summing up her life, Spargo said, “I feel very fortunate to have been able to change my craft from a hobby into a business, and I love every stitch I create. I also love to teach because my students inspire me to learn even more.”
George W. Davis can be reached at [email protected]