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L.A.P. of Luxury: Press

Rocky Hill Life Feature Article, March, 2014L.A.P. of Luxury was featured in Rocky Hill Life, March, 2014.

Luxurious Success

Change of career fulfills passion for Laura Pandolfo

Nobody can say that Laura Pandolfo didn't give her drafting and design carreer a solid chance. She first became interested in the subject when she was a senior in high school in South Windsor and had an extra half-credit to fill. She took the class as an elective because she thought it would be "an easy A."

Her parents said they would help pay for school and, since she wasn't "ready to go out and conquer the world," she next attended Porter & Chester Institute.

Then it was on to a series of jobs in the engineering world.

"I'd get bored and go out and get another job and repeat. I had a lot of jobs," she said.

Over her 18-year career in the field, she tried working at a couple of environmental engmeering firms, a company that designed components for cell phone towers, one that worked on equipment design for the sand and gravel industry and another that was an architecture firm for the marine and naval industry.

"One day, I realized it wasn't the places I was working, it was the career. I wasn't feeling fulfilled," she said.

"By chance" at the same time she was having this realization, she took an old pastime—sewing.

"I started sewing when I was a toddler," said Pandolfo, who remembers spending hours in the family's basement doing that craft. "I had a natural gift."

Laura Pandolfo at her sewing machineShe started sewing again because of a home project.

"I needed to make curtains for my house."

She didn't want to spend the money to buy them; someone gave her a used machine, and voila, a new career was born.

"I wasn't feeling fulfilled at work. I needed something different. I was at the point in my life where I didn't want to be in the corporate world." she said.

"I wanted to do what I came here for. I work really well with my hands."

She interviewed with the Greenhorn Trading Co., a textile company in Hartford.

"They offered me a position as production manager. I was kind of in disbelief," she said.

She made her decision to accept the job while driving back to Rocky Hill, where she has lived since 1998.

"It took me 10 minutes on the way home," she said. "I think I made it to Wethersfield."

She gave her notice and started her new career.

"I think everyone thought I was a little crazy," she said.

Still, she thought that if she wasn't successful, she could always return to her former work. The early days were challenging.

"There was a lot of learning in the beginning," she said, as she made the transition from home crafter to professional.

L.A.P. of Luxury Linens displayed."Pretty much anything that was made in-house, I had the responsibility for from start to finish. It took a while to get used to it, but once I did, I thought, 'Oh my God, I'm in heaven.'"

When the older couple who owned the company was ready to retire, Pandolfo talked to them about striking out on her own.

"They offered me a few of their product lines. They retired and closed their shop and I took over some of it," she said. "I didn't want to see it just go away. I thought it would be nice if someone carried on the legacy for them."

Pandolfo took some of their products, added her own and founded L.A.P. of Luxury, LLC. L.A.P. stands for her initials: Laura Ann Pandolfo. She has a small shop on the Silas Deane Highway where she meets clients strictly by appointment.

Opening her own place has been bittersweet. Her boyfriend, the late Rocky Hill Police Sgt. Leonard A. Kulas, was instrumental in designing and building her shop, which opened in May, 2010.

"He was huge in encouraging me to take the step of getting it in 2010," she said.

Kulas died in April, 2011.

"It was a difficult time in my life. I knew he would want me to keep going. He was a real encouraging part of me starting this," she said.

Today, her custom sewing and design company includes high-quality linens, such as napkins and tablecloths and bedding (duvets, shams, bedspreads, etc.). Her items are carried in retail shops and boutiques and she also ships to individuals.

She is also known for her linen nightshirts, which she said are especially popular in the South and Southwest. She designs clothing as well, like dresses, pants, coats and special occasion wear, including wedding gowns. She enjoys finding the right design to best fit each client.

"Not everything looks good on every person," she said.

Some of her client request are a bit unusual, such as the customer who wanted a "Doctor Who" costume to wear at a science fiction convention.

She also makes various specialty items, such as motorcycle seat covers, dog biker jackets, dog coats and beds, some of which are carried at Annie's Pet Spa, boat cushions and equestrian attire for horse shows.

Laura Pandolfo in front of her shop on the Silas Deane Highway in Rocky Hill

Annie Kilroy of Annie's Pet Spa first connected with Pandolfo simply by asking her if she knew how to make dog clothing.

"We've been friends ever since," said Kilroy, who added she has a "big display" in her store of Pandolfo's items.

"They're all hand made. They're lifetime garments. They will last forever as opposed to some of the other ones you might find on-line," which Kilroy said will "maybe last a season. The ones Laura makes are well-made and will last forever."

Pandolfo also created a dress for Kilroy to wear for an awards ceremony and has also done work for a number of her clients.

"Her quality is awesome. I think she really does put everything and then some into her products," she said.

"She's always checking and rechecking to make sure everything is perfect before it goes out the door. Her heart is one hundred percent in it," added Kilroy, who thinks that Pandolfo "needs to brag" about her work more.

One of Pandolfo's self-admitted challenges is "finding the time to do everything. I work alone, so I have to be really mindful of managing my time." she said with a laugh.

"I do have friends and family that help me graciously. I have a really good group of people that encourage me."

While she finds it hard to ask for assistance, she sometimes needs to, such as for a recent 800-piece napkin order. She's grateful for the assistance of those close to her, including her current boyfriend, David Farissier, who flies up from Florida to offer his support.

"He has been really good at keeping my focus on the business and helping me find ways of bringing the business forward," she said.

Pandolfo loves being her own boss.

"I can sleep in. If it's a nice day, I can lock my door and come in on a rainy day. I did a real regimented schedule for so long, working for other people," she said.

"It's nice to wake up with no alarm. I can sit and have coffee. I always felt so rushed, working for other people and having to be at my desk at a certain time," she added.

Pandolfo hopes to one day develop her own line of clothing. She only has one regret with the business.

"I wish I had done it sooner because I always wanted to have my own business when I was little."

Featured in LIBECO Belgian Fine Linens

We were featured in an article on their blog in 2013, noting "the synonymous relationship between Belgian Linen and luxury. They were really impressed with the quality of all of hte products created by L.A.P. of Luxury.

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