Welcome to a shiny new installment of Urban Entrepreneurs! What, you might ask, is an Urban Entrepreneur?
Urban Entrepreneurs are stitchy sellers of any kind who have decided to take the plunge (with the help of some UT designs) and start their own small biz! Ever wondered what it would be like using your mad crafty skills in an everyday job? These folks are the ones who can tell you what it’s like to take the plunge.
Joining us today are the swashbuckling stylings of Storied Threads!
Veronica of Storied Threads and her trusty & adorable Beatrix Photo: Michael Bailey
What started you into embroidery?
It was almost a whim, actually. A super expensive whim, but a whim nonetheless.
I was already making and selling garb and accessories at Renaissance Faires, and I wanted a way to make my stuff really stand out from the crowd — embroidery seemed like a good way to do that. When I bought my machine, I wasn’t even sure exactly what I’d do — I thought I might put cool piratey designs on the ends of pirate sashes, but didn’t really have a clear idea of how very AWESOME machine embroidery was going to be.
Photo: Michael Bailey
Where did you first find Urban Threads?
Google! Once I had the machine, I needed good designs. For what I was doing, the design packs they sold at my local sewing machine store just weren’t going to cut it. So, I started poking the internet, and bookmarking places that sold designs.
Urban Threads was one of the first ones I found, and was my immediate favorite — the quirky, off-beat designs perfectly meshed with my own personality, and with the kinds of things I wanted to be able to give my customers.
Model: Mzz Boston Photo: Ed King
Describe your shop and kinds of things you offer.
I vend at Renaissance Faires (as well as online), selling garb and accessories. I make clothing ranging from Medieval to Colonial in period, with occasional ventures into Victorian and Steampunk. Waistcoats, hats, skirts, pirate sashes, vests, stuff like that.
Lately, I’ve been selling TONS of patches, though! I’ve found that the geekier you go on a patch, the more people will squeal over it — as a result, I make oodles of Doctor Who themed patches, along with absolutely tons of UT’s “Zombie Survival” patch.
What made you take the plunge into starting your own business?
I had been involved with Ren Faires for quite a few years when I started. I started out as a cast member, and after a couple of years started doing the costume design for one of the companies I worked with. I had costumed the King Arthur Faire, Robin Hood Faire, and Three Musketeers Faire several times when it dawned on me that designing and making clothing and garb was when I really felt happy and invigorated in my work.
I did some polling around, asking other performers, “If I opened a shop, would you buy my stuff?” and they all said yes. (I mean sure,they were my friends, and they might have just been being nice…but I like to think that’s not the case.) Later that year, I signed up as a business with my town, built my first website, and I’ve been growing ever since.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you began?
Never think this business is predictable!
Remember those patches I sell oodles of? It never even occurred to me to use my embroidery machine for that purpose until I had somebody write to me. She had seen Urban Threads’ “Dirigible” design on my website on another item, and wanted to know if she could get a couple of patches with it for her Airship Crew. I read UT’s tutorial on patches, made myself a circle border, ran the patches off, and took a moment to wonder if other people might be interested in patches. Now, patches (using both UT’s designs and my own) account for easily 90% of my Etsy sales!
Model: Jenn Rykowski Photo: Kyle Cassidy
Where would you like to see your shop in one year?
Ooh, I’d LOVE to be self-sustaining. More realistically, though, I’d like to be doing enough business that I can switch to a part-time job. I think, especially in today’s economy, doing a more gradual transition from steady paycheck to living off my art is a good idea. I’d also love to have a second embroidery machine, to be honest, to better keep up with the business I’m already getting!
Photo: Michael Bailey
Steampunk sylings are definitively a hot ticket this year, but it’s not just the stitching that makes Storied Threads so fabulous, it’s what she puts it on! I mean, that steampunk raygun bag? Totally to die for. I would wear that thing everywhere.
I love Veronica’s advice that you can take this slow, gradually building you business until you feel it’s ready to take you to full time work. It’s great to do something you love for a living! These Urban Entrepreneurs are doing just that, one step at a time.
Do you use Urban Threads designs to create one of a kind products? Want to see your story or your store featured here? Send us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org with a link to your store, website or attach sample photos, and you could be featured!