On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about building a business in cross stitch with my guests Lizzy and Spencer Bean.
Lizzy and Spencer are the founders and owners of Stitch People, which began in 2013. They both share a great love of entrepreneurship, dog rescue (they have 3 shelter dogs!), and performing which they share as their “capital “D” Dream.” They got their start on the stage, but now Lizzy more frequently performs on-screen, and Spencer has become a talented voiceover artist.
Stitch People has been their source of hard work and joy for the past 7 years and they are absolutely stunned by the amazing creations of the incredibly talented and supportive Stitch People Community.
We begin this conversation with Lizzy explaining how the rediscovered her interest in cross stitch while working as a graphic designer at a tech company where she wasn’t particularly happy. Her first cross stitch portraits were Christmas gifts for family members in 2011. Her husband, Spencer, encouraged her to begin selling the portraits online and, on a whim, she reached out to Uncommon Goods. They picked up her products and suddenly she was in business.
Spencer and Lizzy talk about some of the challenges of scaling with a custom, handmade product. They also discuss the feelings they had when they began seeing the cross stitch portraits pinned on Pinterest with pin descriptions that read, “I want to figure out how to make this myself.” Soon, they realized that pivoting to selling instructions made sense. Pulling on her background as a graphic designer, Lizzie wrote a comprehensive DIY book that was nearly 100 pages long explaining every aspect of creating a cross stitch portrait.
Their bet has paid off. Selling the pattern book, along with other patterns, allowed Stitch People to scale. Both Spencer and Lizzy now work full-time for Stitch People, a lifestyle they enjoy. We also talk about why they’ve decided to continued to self-pubilsh the Stitch People book even after being offered a traditional book deal, how they still take on custom work without it becoming too burdensome, and how they think about the competitive landscape of cross stitch portraits patterns.
Recently, Spencer and Lizzy have expanded their business to include events (their first event was held just before the pandemic). We talk about why events make sense for a handmade business and how other businesses similar to theirs might replicate their model.
And, of course, I ask Spencer and Lizzy to recommend great stuff they’re enjoying right now. They recommend:
- the Revisionist History podcast with Malcolm Gladwell
- The Bassoon King by Rainn Wilson (especially the audiobook)
- the Shapa health app