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‘Deep Blue Design’ Finds Niche in Boat Cushions and Pillows

Sep 08, 2017
Photo by: Pat Johnson Kseniya Allen, owner of Deep Blue Designs, with a specialty boat cushion she is recovering with marine grade fabric.

Boats offer comfort to their captains and passengers whether they are cruising the bay or fishing in rough water – but only if their seats and chairs are in good repair.

Living bayside in Beach Haven, Deep Blue Design owner Kseniya Allen founded a niche business in her home located across from the Mordecai Boat Basin, which is managed by her husband, Dan.

Allen has always sewn, starting in her home country of Russia. Her mother taught her to make her doll’s clothes, and then she made her own patterns to create her clothes. After meeting her husband and beginning her new life in the U.S.A., which includes raising two children, Kseniya decided she would like to put her sewing talents into a home-based business.

“I was dreaming about my own business and my husband brought me some boat cushions from the marina. I said, ‘Okay, I can try.’

“This kind of sewing is completely different. I use different industrial machines, different tools and different techniques. But this is how it started; I made cushions for a beautiful, big, fishing boat.

“Then a man who makes canvas sails and covers for boats saw it, and grabbed my business card, because he didn’t do the cushions. I got big, all of a sudden!”

Now in business five years, Allen has gone from a seasonal, part-time business to a year-round full time business. She recently added an employee. “In the winter, people bring me all their cushions. And that means 10 to 15 cushions from each boat. When the spring comes, we install them.”

She makes the seat covers, bolsters and pillows out of marine-grade vinyl, using marine-grade frets and stainless steel hardware and marine-grade thread that won’t rot from salt spray. She also removes and replaces the foam.

For captain’s chairs and upholstery, she makes a template and re-fabricates the style.

“I also make outdoor cushions for lounge chairs, and loose pillows for window seats,” said Allen.

Meanwhile, she also does commercial seats for restaurants.

“I did the new seats and cushions for the Plantation,” an upscale restaurant in Harvey Cedars.

In addition to her marine and commercial grade upholstery, Allen makes decorative pillows for the home. Her online shop, Pillow Fever, is her custom pillow site. It is featured on Etsy and Houzz.com.

“I really enjoy the creativity of making the pillows. I shop fabric stores and pick up different fringes. I try to use everything made in America,” said Allen.

“It’s become very popular. The first two years, I would sell 10 to 15 a month. And now I am up to 200 a month!”

Allen says most days, after she puts her two children to sleep, she works until midnight filling orders. “I am cutting foam. Everything is made-to-order, and 100 percent handmade from 85 percent materials made in the U.S.A. Lots of people appreciate handmade stuff and I get good feedback.

“And that makes me happy!”

So, maybe it’s not a “cushy” job. But it pays off in satisfaction and pride in ownership.

To contact Allen, go to deepbluedesignlbi.com or call 609-290-9270.

—P.J.

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