The Business of Stitching
I just received a new shipment of my kits from JCA, the people who are manufacturing them. I am still at the point that I get a real thrill out of opening a box and seeing my name on the kits. I feel I have been in an up-hill battle with the stitchery thing. For sixteen years, I built a reputation on my knitwear design and then I had to go and shake things up and start stitching again. It must be a flawed trait of mine - when I have success - abandon it and try something new.
After I had the bulk of Colorful Stitchery done, I approached Alan Getz who owns JCA with the idea for a line of stitching kits. I have known Alan professionally for about twenty years – he was always “the competition.” I stopped by at JCA unannounced (yikes) on the way home from a hair appointment in Pepperell with a basket full of C.S. projects and daughter Julia in tow. Alan pulled his team together and they looked. To my surprise, he was interested.
I went home, started drawing some ideas for pillow kits and visited JCA when I went to my next hair appointment (without Julia and a little better dressed). The JCA team picked eight designs (I was hoping I could convince them of four – boy was I overjoyed.) Then I had to source the colorful linen fabric and stitch the designs. Then my dad died.
In February of 2005, they were done and they “debuted” at the CHA show in Atlanta which I attended. Alan said not to expect much and he was totally right. The show was huge – there were two halls and all the action was on the “scrapbooking” side. I stood in the booth for as long as possible trying not to get depressed. But the kits looked good and an editor from Meredith (the Better Homes and Gardens and many other magazines) people liked them.
Alan then had to hop on a plane last summer and take the kits to the “chain buyers” – ACMoore, Hobby Lobby, Michael’s. And then I waited and hoped. Michael’s, the biggest craft chain, sets their stores twice a year. That’s it. Either you get put into the "plan-a-gram" or you don’t.
Last summer was the year of "knitting is hot." The craft store chains were looking at increasing their space in “knitting." They weren't going to add any square footage. You know what had to go? That’s it – the tried and true stitching department. There went my chances. Alan was skillful enough to get my kits into Hobby Lobby and I am still hoping against hope he gets them into some of the other chains. I have no control and I just sit here doing my best to generate publicity and excitement from my humble little basement studio. And then hoping that someone notices.
Surprisingly to me, very few knitting stores are interested in my stitching kits. I thought they might be but they are too busy selling knitting. It used to be that knitting stores carried needlework kits. No more – only a handful do. And many of the stitchery, cross-stitch, and needlepoint stores have closed. I wish I could get the knitting stores interested but they only have so much space.
If I don't sell kits, I don't make any money on the time I spent developing, designing, and stitching. It's all on a commission basis. I was feeling helpless - at the mercy of about four chain store buyers and their bosses. Enter my on-line business. If customers liked the kits and couldn’t buy them anywhere, I might as well sell them myself. My talented friend Lori developed my “order form” and I figured out the Paypal system enough to start my little stitchery kit business.
I thank all of you who have bought my kits from me - especially over the last few weeks. I've become a regular at the local post office. The retail sales of the kits makes me a little more money and keeps me going. I feel good interested consumers can actually find the kits. Better get back to stitching that last new kit before JCA loses patience.