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Karin Rojas of Zulema Custom Interiors (Virginia Beach, VA)


What does being an upholsterer mean to you? 

Being an upholsterer means everything to me. It’s a hobby that also pays the bills. I love being able to take the customers’ ideas and make them a reality. My intention is to create a “wow” effect while having fun.   

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How did you get started in upholstery?

I took very short steps in the upholstery business.  I first owned an alterations shop at home in my early 20’s.  I sewed during the day and went to school for graphic design at night.  During the summer I worked for local fashion designers until I became a fashion designer myself.  I loved fashion so much that I changed my major from graphic design to fashion merchandising. One day I was contacted by international fashion designer, Lizzi London, and was asked to intern for her upcoming fashion show in 2016.  When London moved to the East Coast, I was left without a job and decided to work for a local upholstery shop while continuing to sew clothing at home.  When I started taking upholstery jobs at home, it only took three weeks to get so busy that I could no longer work for anyone else.  That is when my upholstery career began!

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What types of upholstery do you do?

I do cars, boats, and aircraft.

How long have you been upholstering?

I have been upholstering for about 5 years.

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What is your biggest consumer demand?

It changes from year to year, but I’ve been doing a lot of auto upholstery recently.

What is your favorite upholstery project you've done?

My favorite upholstery project is always my most recent.  My designs have become more elaborate over time.

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What is the strangest item you've found in a restoration?

I found a few bee hives in a boat once.

Have you noticed any up and coming trends?

Quilting, especially diamond stitching, is trending right now.  It’s likely these quilted designs will become more elaborate in the future.

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What changes would benefit the upholstery industry?

Humanity is slowly fading away from blue collar jobs.  If schools, universities, and trade schools will teach students handy skills such as upholstery, we would have more people to hire and upholstery would not be a dying trade. 

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Have you ever been featured on television, online, or in another publication?

Yes.  I was featured on:

  • Inside business by the Virginian Pilot Newspaper in 2023
  • Voyage Mia Magazine wrote an article on the business in 2023
  • I was interviewed by Mike Bhand for Shoutout Atlanta Magazine in 2022
  • I promoted a product for Madam Sew’s Facebook page in 2020
  • I was featured by Yurview.com in 2020
  • I was invited to the Poolside Cooking show in 2020, a show filmed by Roku TV
  • I was spotted in Lucky Magazine as a “trend setter” in 2015
  • I was interviewed by “Behind the Scenes” radio show in 2014

Do you have a shop animal?

Yes.  It’s a miniature poodle.

Zulema pet



Some answers have been edited for clarity.


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