Early jobs tie into career in Ribbonerie
Soon after Paulette Knight graduated from high school in Jacksonville, her father's work relocated the family to San Mateo. "While on our way west," she recalls, "my mother dropped me at Stephens College in Columbia, Mo." There, Knight studied fashion design and was employed in the campus' notions shop.
That was September 1964. More than three decades later, as fate would have it, Knight's student gig and early fascination with trimmings would lead her to her current retail business: the Ribbonerie ( www.ribbonerie.com).
Her career path wasn't a direct one, however. After college, Knight worked as a flight attendant with American Airlines. "I became a Francophile and spent most of my vacations in France," she says. "There, I discovered wired-edged ribbon. Eventually, I found a supplier and brought back a few rolls every time I visited Paris."
In the mid-'80s, she became a wholesale importer of ribbons - devoting her weekdays to her entrepreneurial endeavors and continuing to fly on the weekends. After six years of balancing both jobs, she retired from the airline industry.
In 1997, with her unique exposure to such a wide range of specialty ribbons, Knight opened the Ribbonerie in San Francisco. "I love the interaction with the customers and the show-and-tell aspect of the business," she says. "My shop offers thousands of fine-quality ribbons and trims from around the world. In addition to the ribbons, I carry other embellishments of the trade - feathers, flowers, lace, passementerie, buttons, handkerchiefs and textile-related antiques."
The regulars who appreciate Knight's nearly 1,000 styles of ribbon include sewers, crafters, interior designers, brides and "folks who like to wrap pretty packages," she notes. One of her most unusual clients? "The lady who makes pasties for strippers."
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