Archive for the ‘Urban Entrepreneurs’ Category

Urban Entrepreneurs – MTCoffinz

I have long been waiting to do a feature on the fabulous MTCoffinz, since I started ogling her slick punk/club aesthetic first featuring arm warmers and then fabulous tutus and beyond. Her collection has expanded to an etsy store and her own website, and it only seems to be growing. I love how boldly she uses her embroidery motifs, and the wicked sense of alternative style she brings to all her pieces.

Starting as just a little home project, MTCoffinz quickly expanded into a business that keeps owner Jinx plenty busy. She joins us today to talk a little about her punky embroidered creations…

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What started you into embroidery?

I’d always been mesmerized by the fancy embroidery machines at the craft stores, and I have a tendency to have to try every craft I can. I wanted one of those machines — no, I “needed” one. I finally convinced my husband that we needed one, and we bought a little Brother machine, thinking we’d never need anything bigger than this. Yeah, that only lasted a few weeks. We quickly decided that it was far too slow for us workaholics and we got our first Baby Lock 6 needle machine. A few years later and we now have several 6- and 10-needle machines.

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Where did you first find Urban Threads?

I was searching Google for designs that were my style, and UT was the only site that really fit.

What made you take the plunge into starting your own business?

MTC started when I had my son, 17 years ago. I gave up teaching dance and started doing little sewing jobs for friends, I’d always sewn the costumes for my dance teams. I didn’t go online with a shop until 1996, and then it was just going to be a hobby to keep me busy while my son was in school and my husband was at work. Before we knew it he was quitting his restaurant consulting job to stay home and work with me.

It wasn’t because he missed me ;)

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Tell us a bit about your shop.

What do you specialize in? As I mentioned, I’m a workaholic so I don’t just do one thing, or one shop. My main focus has always been alternative clothing. I do a lot of stuff for performers of all kinds, club wear and just people who want things they can’t find at the mall. But I like to mix it up and throw in some home decor, accessories and I even have a vegan mineral makeup line.

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What kind of customer do you cater to?

Humans mostly. When I started making funky clothing I thought it was just for dancers and club kids. But I quickly learned that my audience was much wider than that. I get a lot of orders for marathon runners, famous pop singers, bachelorette parties, broadway shows, photoshoots, weddings and special events, geeky conventions, etc. I really enjoy hearing what people are using my designs for because it’s different every day.

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What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?

Working for yourself is the best thing ever, next to coffee.

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Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

I don’t really plan it out like that. I’m more of a one day at a time kinda girl, so I don’t have many plans other than adding another embroidery machine. We’re looking at a 15-needle one this time, to add to the collection!

Thanks, Jinx, for joining us and sharing your amazing alternative creations. It just goes to show you never know what a hobby or a great love of crafting can lead to if you try!

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

Urban Entrepreneurs – Tote Uncommon

Stephanie Howsare didn’t exactly mean to become the next big thing in the dice bags game. But sometimes you just can’t help these things.

From “beautiful, weird” Austin, Texas by way of Baltimore, Maryland, Stef is surrounded by friends and family who kept asking her to use her just-for-fun new embroidery machine to create one-of-a-kind bags for their gaming supplies. After a few of these orders, she took the biz online and opened up an Etsy shop, Tote Uncommon.

Stef delights in creating embroidered drawstring pouches that combine quality with personality, working with customers to design the perfect bag to meet their needs and express their style (and not just for gaming!). She’s got some awesome geeky collaborations in the works, too. Read on and discover what makes these totes so uncommon…

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Stef with Misser Poe, one of two black cat sewing assistants, and her embroidery machine Smith, which sews exactly in rhythm to “How Soon Is Now” by The Smiths.

What started you into embroidery?

I have always been a crafter and cross-stitcher and in 2012, I had a desire to try something different and decided to look into hand embroidery. I searched the internet for “cool” designs and came across Urban Threads. I looked through the site and absolutely fell in love with all the designs. It was so refreshing to see such modern, edgy, and out of the norm patterns. I got a couple patterns to try, but seeing the beautiful machine embroidery designs whet my appetite, and soon after that I bought an embroidery machine with the intent to just “play around” with it and make things for myself and friends.

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Where did you first find Urban Threads?

I did a Google search, looking for hand embroidery designs, and came across the site. I was impressed by the designs and so many different ideas on how to use them popped into my head!

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What made you take the plunge into starting your own store?

My boyfriend came to me one day, asking me to make a bag to hold his gaming dice. He, like so many other people, had been using the same old bags for years — bags that looked the same as everyone else’s. He wanted a good, heavy-duty, big and unique bag. He then asked me to make one for a friend’s birthday. Then her boyfriend wanted one, and soon after I opened my Etsy shop, Tote Uncommon. I was pleasantly surprised when my shop took off like a shot!

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What kinds of folks are your customers? Who do you hope to cater to?

My customers tend to be from all walks of life, but the common thread is that they are mostly all gamers. I have also had quite a bit of success selling the freestanding lace masks I make from Urban Threads designs. Those have been a constant seller and have been sent as far as Moscow and have adorned a dance troupe in Maryland and been used at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. My intent is to cater to not just gamers,although they of course are my target customer, but also to anyone who wants a bag that is unique and reflective of their personality. I have sold to belly dancers and knitters, gamers introducing their children to gaming, and parents and friends who were looking for a “different” sort of gift. And yes, I have had a few people say, “I can finally get rid of my old Crown Royal bags!”

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What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?

The biggest lesson I have learned is to not limit myself. I was hesitant to begin this endeavor because I was not sure it would succeed or that I had the talent to pull it together. But, with the encouragement of my wonderful boyfriend, Matt, I took the plunge and never looked back. The positive feedback and referrals and repeat business I have gotten from customers also makes all the hard work worthwhile. I have also learned that the stereotype of what a “typical” gamer is no longer applies. Gamers come from all walks of life, they are male AND female, young and old, and they all want something nice with which to carry their supplies.

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Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

I have recently launched my own website, CustomDiceBags.com. I have been networking like crazy and have begun to sell in a local game shop called Great Hall Games here in Austin and hope to move into other shops in the near future. As for fun stuff, I have recently been asked by the indie game designer Clay Gardner (designer of the anime game Ova) to make bags for his Kickstarter campaign to issue a revised edition. I have made bags for the indie roleplaying game Fiasco designed by Jason Morningstar which will be awarded as prizes at GenCon, PAX East and Origins gaming conventions. Soon, I hope to also be selling at those sorts of conventions to really get my name and shop out there!

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Thanks, Stef, for giving us this glimpse into your studio and creative mind! It’s wonderful to see a creative endeavor that both turns a crafty skill into a business and brightens up others’ lives with custom-made goodies. Wishing you much success with your tote uncommon shop!

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

Urban Entrepreneurs – Dahlia Soleil

Back again for another edition of Urban Entrepreneurs, where we feature sellers of any kind who have decided to take the plunge (with the help of some UT designs) and start their own small biz. Today’s crafty seller is the lovely Paulette, a machine embroiderer working in New York City and owner of Etsy store Dahlia Soleil. Paulette has been working to expand the embroidery market for African American people so she can see more images and designs that reflect her and her daughter, a gap she found in the stitchy world that she intends to fill.

She’s constantly honing her digitizing skills creating her own embroidery designs as well as using Urban Threads in her work. As a rare mix of classic UT stitcher and self-made digitizer, we decided we had to share some of her work as well as the awesome things she’s made using Urban Threads. She joined us to share a little of what her journey has been like…

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What started you into embroidery? 

I started in machine embroidery because it seemed like a niche market. Not many people were doing it so it seemed like a great field to jump into and create some unique products.

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Where did you first find Urban Threads?

Back in 2009 I was searching for cool designs and Urban Threads was the only embroidery designs website that seemed cool and modern and creative!

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What made you take the plunge into starting your own store?

I was selling my creations at outdoor markets in New York City and a lot of tourists from overseas and other US states wanted another way to continue to buy from me. Selling online was the best way for me to offer them my work in a setting that was easy to view and buy and ship to them.

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What kinds of folks are your customers? Who do you hope to cater to? 

My customers are mostly women or men buying gifts for the women in their lives. I hope to fill the hole missing in the embroidery world of images of black/African/African-American people.

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Custom design by Dahlia Soleil

I want my daughter Dahlia to see an image that looks like her and myself in the embroidery world. My store is special because it combines crocheting and embroidery … two crafts that are timeless and beautiful. Passed on from generation to generation.

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What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?

The biggest lessons I’ve learned since I began selling online is … great photographs matter!

Since the customer cannot reach out and touch my embroidered pieces, taking a great photograph is the next best thing. And I’ve learned that people really appreciate artists and want to support small businesses like mine.

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Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

In one year I plan to buy another embroidery machine and I hope my shop has about 1000 items in it. I’m really excited to go back to college this year to get a bachelor’s degree in business management. It’s important for us artists to master the art of making things AND the art of running a business.

Custom design by Dahlias Soleil

Custom design by Dahlia Soleil

It’s inspiring to see a crafter spot a gap in the market and work hard to try and fill it. It’s exactly how Urban Threads got started! With Paulette’s determination and crafty skill I know Dahlia Soleil will continue to craft up great things, and find a whole new market for the world of machine embroidery.

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

Urban Entrepreneurs – Bleu Roo

We have a lovely new hand stitching Urban Entrepreneur for you today, only our second hand embroiderer of the group! Today we’re featuring the styling stitches of Bleu Roo, who has taken her love of embroidery one step further by turning her creations into adorable wall hangings, pillows and re-usable snack bags so you can bring your favorite embroidery everywhere.  I love seeing cute stitches in a hoop, but I also really love to see them adorning things you can use every day!

Amanda joins us today to share with us a little of what it’s like to be a hand stitcher in the Etsy world…

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What started you into embroidery?

I really don’t remember the very first time I picked up a needle and thread, but I’ve always loved the aesthetic of embroidery ever since I was a kid.  I love how just a few stitches can transform a piece of clothing or a bag, or that it can be used as an art form all its own.  And it’s something that’s been done for literally thousands and thousands of years.  Embroidery has a rich history in almost every culture from all over the world.  It can be just a very simple running stitch, or an elaborate design incorporating several different stitches; I love them all the same!

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Where did you first find Urban Threads?

I was just searching around for unique, hip designs to embroider.  It’s so hard to find really modern, fun embroidery designs, they are mostly images that your grandmother would have used decades ago (no duckies or teddy bears, please!).  So it was on one of these internet searches that I stumbled across Urban Threads.  A very happy day, indeed!  Plus, since I can’t draw a straight line to save my life it was important to find designs that I would be free to use on items that I sell.  So UT has been the perfect place of inspiration ever since.

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What made you take the plunge into starting your own store?

I discovered Etsy back in ’06, I suppose not very long after it launched.  I urged my friend to start selling her pinback buttons.  Then after I had my son in ’07 I was looking for a way to possibly stay home with him while still bringing in a little income.  I didn’t go straight from A to B, but over the course of the years I have in fact turned my tiny little shop into something that does indeed help me live my dream of being a stay at home mom while still contributing financially.

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What kinds of folks are your customers?

My customer base is primarily moms, buying snack bags for their little tykes to take to school.  I didn’t really set out with a target customer in mind, I mainly make things that I enjoy and hope that others do to!

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What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?

Over estimate everything!  Over estimate the time it will take you to finish a project, or the amount of supplies you’ll need.  Too many late nights and too many emergency runs to the fabric shop!  I think I’ve got it down now. ;)

Also, don’t jump in with opening a shop before you do your research.  It will save you many headaches down the line.

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Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

Honestly, I think I’ve landed in a good place with my shop.  I’d like to still be busy yet sane!
My newest venture for my shop are embroidered pendants.  I’m in love with them and wish I had started them sooner!  And I’m constantly adding new UT designs. :)

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Thank you, Amanda, for sharing your darling creations! I can’t imagine what little tyke wouldn’t like to bring their snacks to school in such cute embroidered creations. All the best in doing what you love!

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

Urban Entrepreneurs – Bound For You

I hope everyone had a great holiday break! We”re back today with the last Urban Entrepreneurs post of 2012, and it”s a great way to cap off the year.

I always find the best creative discoveries are when you combine two unexpected things. This formula seems to have worked out brilliantly for our newest Urban Entrepreneur Tara, the owner of etsy store Bound For You. Tara combined her new love of machine embroidery with a long held love of books and a new found talent for making them.

She joins us today to show us some of her creations and talk about her journey into this new crossroads of embroidery and bookmaking…

What started you into embroidery?

My mum bought the embroidery machine, and after having it sit in her closet for several years I decided it was time to give it a spin. I was so completely enthralled by its almost magical ability to turn thread into such amazing pieces of art that I became hooked.

Which came first, the bookmaking or the embroidery?

I’ve always been in love with books. The day I discovered I could actually make them, was a very happy day for me. It was actually around the same time that I started learning about embroidery, and I can remember thinking- wouldn’t it be amazing if I could fuse the very traditional art of Book binding, with the modern technology of embroidery and create something incredibly unique.

Where did you first find Urban Threads?

I came across is quite by accident, I’d googled embroidery design files, and was looking through the various websites, trying to find something that spoke to me/would jump out at me. Then I came across Urban Threads – and what a wonderful surprise that was.

Such fresh, beautiful, and sometimes creepy designs, a little left of center, it was just so perfect for me.

What made you take the plunge into starting your own business?

I started thinking, if I love these books so much, maybe there are other people who will love them too. I wanted to create something that was just as precious and long lasting, as the memories people make with them.

Tell us a bit about your shop Bound For You

I sell handmade Journals, Albums, Memory Books and Guest Books. Everything is handmade in my studio, from the hand cut paper, to the individually waxed threads that I sew each book with. I embellish some of my books with handmade monogrammed pendants, made from copper and silver, those I fire in my own kiln and the embroidery is done on my little machine, one spool at a time.

What makes my shop unique is that I combine several different arts together to create something individual and special for each person. My embroidery and metal craft allows me to really personalize my items.

What’s the biggest lesson you”ve learned since you began?

ORGANIZATION!!!

I’ve got two small girls, 10 months and 3 years, who keep me on my toes! In order to function competently (or at all really), I need to have excellent time management and organizational skills! I’m still mastering those, but I’ve learned that they are incredibly important. I also have an amazingly supportive husband and family, who keep me positive and motivated, and without which I couldn’t have gotten this far.

Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

My main goal for the next year is to become a bit better known, really get my name out there and show people what I can do. I’ll be attending local boutique markets throughout the next 12 months, to showcase my work and give people an opportunity to see what I create up close.

More specifically, I want to create some wedding/engagement guest books and photo albums. The amazing theme’s that couples choose for their special day, opens up a whole world of artistic possibility’s, and to me, that’s really exciting.

Thank you so much Tara for sharing your creativity with us! This is a totally new way of using our designs and that”s always my favorite kind. If you want to check out Tara”s shop, visit Bound For You on etsy, or become a fan on facebook!

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

Urban Entrepreneurs – Miss Delaney

Just because you’re a newcomer to the embroidery world doesn’t mean you can’t jump in head first! UT stitcher Rebekah, aka Miss Delaney, got her machine only four months ago, and has wasted no time in putting it to good use, and even starting an online Etsy store! She joins us today to share her unique kids’ creations and talk about how she got into the world of stitches…

What started you into embroidery?

I had been decorating ready-to-wear clothes using stencils and fabric paint. Then a friend of mine got an embroidery machine and I saw the cute things she was making with it.

I honestly thought that you had to buy cartridges with designs on them and had no idea that there were all these amazing designs online. Once I started looking into it I was hooked and knew I had to get an embroidery machine. I’ve had my machine for 4 months now and I’m officially addicted to it.

Where did you first find Urban Threads?

I found Urban Threads this summer when I was searching for some cool designs for my shop. I was struggling with whether or not to sell the same applique type designs that you see everywhere when that wasn’t really my style. I was desperately searching for something cool, something punk, and I really hit the jackpot with Urban Threads. I realized then that I could remain a niche store and not have to use designs just because they’re popular.

What made you take the plunge into starting your own business?

I left my job when we started a family 4 years ago and that really gave me more time to devote to my hobbies. I’ve always loved sewing, so when I was pregnant with my daughter I was making her baby leg warmers from knee high socks. Then it just made sense to start an Etsy store where I could make these and sell them and still stay at home with my kiddos.

It’s a truly amazing feeling when you can make a job out of something you love doing. I work all the time and it never feels like work.

Tell us a bit about your shop. What kind of stuff do you do?

I focus on selling baby and toddler clothes. Right now it’s leg warmers, leggings and tops (onesies, shirts and dresses). I try to find really cool and off the wall designs. I love the punk and geek themes and I want to fill my shop up with those types of designs.

What’s are some of the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?

I’ve learned that it’s okay to be a niche store. I don’t have to sell what everyone else is selling to get orders. I’ve learned to sell things that I personally love and realize that eventually someone somewhere will love them too.

Another thing is that I’ve learned to work all the time, even when I don’t have orders. I had a really slow start on Etsy. Then I put my store on vacation mode and killed my momentum and it took 6 months to recover. But I was working at my store every day. I was adding items, changing descriptions, taking new pictures and then when sales picked back up, I was ready for them.

Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

In one year, I would like for my shop to be successful enough to keep me busy full time. I think both my kids will be in preschool and my whole goal is to have a full time job at home while still having a flexible schedule while the kids are in school. So I’d like to have my shop full of cool offbeat things that I love.

Hopefully one day I can learn digitizing and make my own designs. In the near future, I’m hoping to add pajama sets and maybe some minky blankets.

From newbie to etsy store owner in just a few short months, Miss Delaney is a fantastic example of what you can do when you find something you really love. Crafting for yourself is a great way to bring a unique spin on your store, you may just find that the things you love can find a new audience in your customers! I know it’s worked for me. ;)

Good luck, Rebekah, in all your adorable creations. When embroidery looks this cute, it’s hard to resist!

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of  Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!

Urban Entrepreneurs – Alert Wear

I’m always inspired when I see others turn their love of embroidery into something more. Sometimes it develops out of a love of a great hobby; sometimes it comes from somewhere completely unexpected. When I came across today’s Urban Entrepreneur, it was accompanied with the thought that I would have loved something like this as a kid, because like many kids all over the world, I had pretty bad food allergies when I was young.

You see, in the hands of Ann from Alert Wear, embroidery is not just decoration. It’s an important part of making sure information and medicide that allergy prone kids need is close at hand. Not only can embroidery convey allergy information or warnings to adults, it also serves the vitally important function of getting kids to willingly wear the very important but admittedly cumbersome holder for their meds. By giving what was once often hidden or dreadfully dull a bold new statement, kids can wear their packs with pride, and parents can know their life-saving meds are close at hand at all times.

Ann joins us today to talk about what started this amazing little company, and how embroidery fits in to what she does…

Explain how your store got started. What’s the story behind Alert Wear?

Like many businesses, I got my start by creating something my children needed. Both of my children have life threatening food allergies and asthma. When my daughter was little, I was petrified to take her anywhere or leave her in anyone’s care for fear that she might take food from someone. I searched for a product that would scream “I have food allergies DO NOT feed me.” When I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted, I started sewing. I wanted to create a smock with a huge medical alert symbol in the middle and “Do Not Feed Me – Food Allergies” around it.

My daughter, then a toddler, went with me to the embroiderers to drop off the smock. When I picked out the design, she let me know right away that she would not be wearing snakes. The idea to have kids design their own alert gear was born right there.

Our doctor advised us to have our kids’ meds with us at all times.  When my son started school, we dropped off the medications and assumed that they kept them with our son throughout the day.  On the last day of 1st grade for my son, I volunteered for field day.  We were a good two city blocks away from the nurse’s station and I asked the teacher where my son’s meds were.  They were back in the classroom and she saw no need for the meds to be with us since we were still on school grounds.  Anaphylaxis can kill quickly, so that was not acceptable to me.  That day, my son started wearing his medicine in a fanny pack. 

Everything was going well until 3rd grade when the kids started making fun of him for this big pack that hung on him.  It was then that I started making epi-pen cases that could be hidden under clothing, could hold 2 epi-pens and looked cool. The very first case I made was using a design from your site that my son picked out: Get Inked.  He still loves that design! 

How did you get into embroidery? Do you think it helps your product work better for your audience?

I have always loved personalized things but, had no clue how to embroider and did not have the money to invest in a fancy machine.  I had had numerous requests to make a smock like my daughter’s for others but, when I added what her smock cost with fabric, time and having a local professional embroider a design on it, no one would be willing to pay for it. 

So, I watched for a home embroidery machine on Craigslist and finally found a decent one for a great price.  It didn’t come with lessons or a manual and I didn’t have funds to invest in lessons so, I taught myself from online videos, just playing with the machine and lots of help from my friend Christy, from Chunky Monkey Diapers, who lives in another state. 

Embroidery is absolutely essential for my products because the designs and emergency information need to be very durable.  These items are expected to last a school year and yet are worn more consistently than any pair of tennis shoes or jeans.  And what kid *wants* to wear their medicine or smock? 

If they have a part in designing it, the fight to get them to wear these items is gone.  I have even gotten reports back from parents of kids sleeping with their medicine packs because they love what they created so much!

Where did you first find Urban Threads?

My good friend Christy tipped me off to your company a couple of years ago when I was looking for designs that would appeal to tweens. 

What kinds of folks are your customers? What makes what you offer unique?

My customers are mostly moms who have children with life-threatening food allergies like me.  I do get a few requests from parents of kids with other health issues as well.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?

Oh I have learned many lessons!

Right now, I am learning to set office hours and better production time expectations.  I have been running myself ragged trying to fulfill orders and not spending as much time with my family.  I wouldn’t be doing this if it were not for them though.  I have also learned to include my family in the business as much as possible.  In addition, I have learned to really listen to my customers’ ideas.  Many of my of their ideas have ended up being some of my best sellers. 

Where would you like to see your shop in one year? Any fun stuff planned for the future?

I am really just trying to take it one day at a time right now.  Eventually, I would love to be able to employ others to help me.  And I do have a lot more product ideas I’d like to make.

Thank you so much for sharing your story and your amazing store with us, Ann. It just goes to show that embroidery as decoration doesn’t just mean it makes it pretty. It means it makes a essential item that otherwise may not be the most desirable to wear something fun and personal for kids. That might just mean the difference between having meds and not when the moment counts, and for me, that makes what you do really amazing. From one who had epi-pens as a kid in an ugly plastic case, kids of the next generation thank you! I wish all the best for this fantastic idea.

If you want to check out more or perhaps are interested in getting a case for your little one, check out Anne’s store, Alert Wear.

Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here and join our gang of  Urban Entrepreneurs? Send us an e-mail at blog@urbanthreads.com with a link to your store/website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!