“Let’s make a fort” is a childhood entreaty that’s as universal as “Mom, there’s nothing to eat.” Kids have forever fashioned compact play spaces from diverse materials like refrigerator boxes, blankets, and sofa cushions.
Textile artist Brenda Fuqua has capitalized on this time-tested archetype of imaginative play with Handcrafted Teepees by Lindsay’s Loft. Launching her business from her home a year-and-a-half ago, Fuqua dove headfirst into combining a love of sewing, the desire to work from home to care for Lindsay, her 24-year-old daughter with special needs (and business namesake), and a healthy dose of “Let’s give this a whirl.”
Her product line includes décor banners radiating positive messages like “Kind is cool,” outdoor A-frame tents, and hanging baby swings. But the teepees are her most popular offering.
Fuqua has a background in television news, and in the late ’90s, she cohosted WLOS’s early-morning news show with local fixture Bob Caldwell. She left the field when her kids were young because, she says with a laugh, “At some point, sleep becomes a priority.”
The prolific maker now fills orders for her customizable teepees as fast as she can. A natural creative, Fuqua learned to sew from her mother and was an avid scrapbooker as a young mom. “I always need a creative outlet; the teepee idea percolated as I played around with patterns and made prototypes from paint drop cloths. Once I figured out the pattern, I started sewing, and now my living-room studio looks like a Martha Stewart set exploded,” she jokes, though it’s obvious she enjoys the creative chaos. She enlists husband James to fashion the wooden-dowel pieces that form the teepee foundations.
Fuqua’s teepees are cozy retreats that comfort kids and offer a place to play and create. They can be dreamy nap spaces, cozy reading nooks, or even serve as partial bed canopies. And each one possesses custom appeal. “I offer a huge selection of fabrics to choose from — patterns with a shabby-chic feel, bold floral and animal prints, modern geometrics — and I refresh these seasonally,” she explains. The middle child of five, Fuqua declares, “We were lucky to spend 10 minutes by ourselves as kids, but I have fond memories of teaching my younger sister to read on our family-room steps — our ‘teepee.’”
Fuqua’s diminutive pet teepees are equally charming, and she’s donated several to the Blue Ridge Humane Society and to Brother Wolf Animal Rescue as fundraising items. She’s also considering making adult-sized “glamping” teepees.
Her target market is imaginative parents, grandparents, and pet owners — but Lindsay is the impetus for her business. “Having a special-needs child changes your life in many ways. There are challenges, but also big blessings … Lindsay models unconditional love, and brings joy and humor into our lives.”
Fuqua frequents the craft-show and festival circuit and finds it a great way to connect. “I’ve filled orders for special-education teachers for their students on the [autism] spectrum, who occasionally need space away from the class if they feel overwhelmed. And it’s a joy to talk to a couple expecting their first child and considering a teepee for the nursery, or doting grandparents, because love for the recipient is the common denominator.”
Handcrafted Teepees by Lindsay’s Loft, Hendersonville. For more information, call 828-243-2882 or teepeesbylindsaysloft.com.