Hello, everyone! Welcome to our next installment of ‘Meet A Maker!’
I’m quite hopeful that these posts will become a monthly staple here at APFE. I’m incredibly passionate about handmade goods, woman-run businesses, and independent movers-and-shakers. It can almost be overwhelming to seek out handmade goods. There are so many great people out there making so many amazing things. And then maybe you’re not even sure where to start looking for said goods… That’s where ‘Meet A Maker!’ comes in! My hope is to show you that makers are all around you and urge you to put value in handmade goods, to pay well for the labor and love that goes into creating an object or providing a service that may seem otherwise unconventional.
I’m so pleased to introduce you to this month’s maker, Christy Turner, owner and operator of ‘Rose & Crow Needlework Co.‘! Christy and I were once coworkers, and I hope we stay in touch for a very long time because I have a few pieces of her art in my home and I just cherish them! The quality of her work is grand, and she has a sense of style that is a little edgier than one might expect from traditional cross stitch. It’s an easy observation to note how versatile Christy is—from our time working together, I can confidently say that she is a jack-of-all-trades, and it is apparent in her work too. I’ve seen examples of her work spanning many different mediums, but there is a sense of cohesion within it all that is a real delight to behold.
But before we get to the interview, let’s not forget the usual disclaimer. *This is not a sponsored post, and I did not receive any compensation to feature Christy Turner or Rose & Crow Needlework Co. I’m just very passionate about supporting small businesses and wanted to share her delightful work with you!*
APFE: What ignited the spark in you to start a new business venture or to make significant changes in an existing business? How did the idea for your business come about?
C: I’m the kind of person who needs a project. I’m not happy unless my hands are busy, and I feel productive. So running a business like Rose & Crow is a perfect outlet for me. Cross stitch and embroidery suit my skills and interests, and both crafts have the advantage of being popular right now. So it made sense to pursue pattern design as a business venture. I see stitching as being similar to adult coloring books—a calming, mindful craft activity that almost anyone can enjoy—and that’s a concept I can really get behind.
APFE: What sets you apart from other makers?
C: A lot of makers (at least the ones I’ve known) are more interested in the making than in the administrative aspects required to actually build a business, which is totally understandable. I’m kind of weird in that I enjoy the administrative stuff too. Sometimes I just want to sit down with some coffee and my laptop and grind away at editing product photos or building cost analysis spreadsheets. For me, it provides a necessary balance between creativity and productivity.
APFE: Tell me about your background as a maker/artist and your education and work experience.
C: I’ve been making stuff as long as I can remember. My mom taught me to embroider when I was 6 or 7, and I’ve never really stopped. I majored in Fine Art at Oregon State University, where I forged my own independent study on bookbinding and textile/embroidery art. I’ve since exhibited my art in galleries across the country. Along the way, I taught myself graphic design and digital marketing, which is how I pay the bills.
APFE: How would you describe your business?
C: Rose & Crow Needlework Co. provides modern and punk-rock cross stitch patterns for crafters with a less than traditional aesthetic. Right now we offer downloadable pdf patterns only, but soon we’ll be selling full kits, finished pieces, and stitching accessories too. I aim to be a one-stop shop for anyone interested in cross stitch/embroidery, regardless of background or experience level.
APFE: What do you think you offer over your competitors?
C: I offer a genuine personal connection. After every order, my customers get an email from me offering assistance if they have any questions or run into trouble, and it’s a 100% sincere offer. I want to connect with them, want to help them if they get stuck, and just generally want to share the warm fuzzy feeling I get when I’m working on something I enjoy. I also stitch all of my patterns before offering them for sale, so the customer has an accurate representation of the finished product. Some of my competitors save time by showing a digital rendering of the pattern rather than stitching the whole thing out, but I would rather take the time to work through the pattern myself before selling it to anyone else.
APFE: What’s one skill that seems non-related to your field that you’ve found to be surprisingly most helpful?
C: Honestly all my skills come in pretty handy! My “real job” is as a marketing and graphic design jack-of-all-trades, and those skills are perfectly suited to designing patterns and running my Etsy shop. Because of my work experience, I’m able to design my own pattern templates, take my own product photos, and handle my social media/web presence with confidence.
APFE: How do you advertise/make people aware of your products?
C: Right now I primarily use social media to get my products out there, posting progress pics and finished pieces on Instagram and Pinterest. I also use Etsy’s promoted listing system to push my patterns a little higher in the search results. Eventually I plan to branch out into Facebook ads, but for the time being, I’m keeping it simple—in the end, I’d really rather make a genuine connection with someone than push ads.
APFE: Do you have a separate space for making?
C: Nope! I just take my stuff with me wherever I happen to be going. I’ve stitched in cars, friends’ houses, breweries, on camping trips, in planes, on trains… you name it, I’ve probably cross stitched in it. I have two dedicated sewing boxes (one big and one small), and I’m rarely without one or the other. That’s the beauty of this craft; it’s super-duper portable. I may get some odd looks now and then for cross stitching in public, but it’s totally worth it.
APFE: What do you do when you’re not making and creating?
C: Honestly most of my time is spent making, but I also love reading and spending time with my husband, dog, and cat. We’re a pretty typical Pacific Northwest family: we do quite a bit of hiking, camping, drinking of craft beer, and playing of video games. I also have a day job, and I’m learning front end web development, so all in all I keep pretty busy.
APFE: Do you have a mission statement for your business?
C: Be awesome, and stitch awesome things! In all seriousness though, my mission is to promote the idea that crafting is cool and to give people a creative outlet that they might not otherwise consider by offering a range of different designs.
APFE: Who is your business inspiration? And creative inspiration?
C: There are a lot of fantastic folks out there with businesses that I really admire: Zoe at Junebug and Darlin and Erica at Grandma Girl Designs are two of my favorites. They both have beautiful patterns with wildly different aesthetics, and I love seeing what they make. They both sell stitching accessories as well, which is something I eventually hope to do.
APFE: Where do you see your business in the next year? In the next five years? The next ten years?
C: In the next year, I want to branch out to selling full kits. I would eventually love to host sip’n’stitch events at local breweries, selling kits and teaching strangers to cross stitch, because it sounds like a ton of fun. In five years, I hope this business will be a steady part of my income, selling from a dedicated website in addition to the Etsy marketplace. I’ll still need a day job because I like having health insurance and a reason to put on pants in the morning, but the idea of supplementing that with a creative business on the side really appeals to me.
APFE: What do you do with your profits?
C: Right now all the profits are going right back into the business: paying to promote listings on Etsy, buying packaging and supplies, etc. Since my business is still in its infancy, I’m putting all my energy and dollars into growing. Soon I hope to be able to invest in some custom products—I’ve already designed and ordered some prototype wooden bobbins and miniature hoops.
APFE: Do you have employees? If not, do you plan to?
C: I doubt I’ll ever have a need for employees per se. I like running all the different aspects of my business, and I wouldn’t want to hand over control of any of them. That said, my husband is a huge huge help—he winds a lot of my thread onto bobbins, helps me keep my floss in order, and tolerates my need to bring my sewing with me everywhere we go.
APFE: How would you describe your customers?
C: They’re obviously fantastic people with amazing taste! Honestly though, my customers vary a lot from one to the next, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Cross stitch is finally getting over its stodgy old lady reputation, and there are a lot of people picking it up for the first time, which is exciting—there are lots of new people joining in all the time.
APFE: Why do your customers select you over your competitors?
C: Everyone has different interests and aesthetics, and I assume that, if someone picks one of my patterns over my competitors’, that it’s mainly a question of taste. If you’re into sailboats and kittens, you’re probably not going to buy from me, but if you happen to like crafts involving pinup girls and skulls, I’m your gal! I also take a lot of care with the presentation of my patterns by actually stitching them, using good product photos, etc. That attention to detail helps convey that I’m a serious seller and that my patterns are good quality.
APFE: Related to the previous questions, why choose handmade goods over fast-fashion/mass produced goods?
C: Because handmade goods are way better! I’m obviously biased here. But I can’t conceive of living a life without making stuff, so I love that my product directly enables people to make stuff themselves. Several customers have told me that they purchased my patterns to make a gift for a friend or family member, and that’s awesome. We’re so surrounded by mass produced goods nowadays that giving or receiving something handmade is extra special. I love being a part of the cycle of making and gifting.
Thank you so much to Christy for being April’s ‘Meet A Maker!’ I can’t wait to see how Rose & Crow Needlework Co. grows in the coming years!
And as a thank-you to the APFE readers, Christy is offering 20% off anything in her store from now until the end of May! You can click here or use code APFE2018 at checkout. Go support this woman-run small business! Do it now!
Are you a maker? Do you run your own business? Would you like to be featured on APFE? Leave a comment below, or head on over to ‘Contact’ page, and send me a message!
One last thing. Do you like APFE? Want to show your appreciation for all that we do around here? Not a fan of big, corporate ads? Then maybe you’d love to ‘Buy Me A Coffee!’ It’s very much appreciated!