On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about building a business in hand embroidery with my guest, Anne Oliver of Lolli and Grace.
For Anne, drawing, painting, and crafts have been a part of her life since almost the very beginning. She spent several years out of college working at a small independent craft store (a dream job, for sure), then started her own business hand-painting clothing, custom murals, and furniture. For her, color has all always been a source of inspiration, and years later serendipity led her to blend that love of color with embroidery, designing, and writing to offer hand embroidery patterns and kits for all levels of stitchers. She’s been featured in several publications, including Homespun magazine and the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Crafts issue.
We begin this interview talking about Anne’s creative childhood. She says she can recall her very first craft project when she was still very young! As she grew up, she and her best friend loved to draw horses, and a school project was further inspiration to pursue her interest in art. Anne majored in English in college and then went on to work at an independently-owned arts and crafts store for several years. She attributes that experience with teaching her so much about both art supplies and also consumer behavior, teaching, and writing craft instructions. It was almost a second education!
Anne then had a few forays into creative business before becoming a mother. Yearning to get back into making things she began working with embroidery and wool felt, first by creating handmade doll patterns and then pivoting to making hand embroidery patterns and kits under her current business, Lolli and Grace.
Over the years, Anne fell in love with photography, particularly microphotography (ultra close-ups), and that love and those skills have served her very well in her current business. She also taught herself to use both Photoshop and Illustrator, again skills that would prove very helpful as she delved into Lolli and Grace. Anne is a lifelong learner!
We talk about Anne’s Instagram strategy and how she approached building an audience on that platform. (If you’re looking for some Instagram tips, definitely tune in!). Anne runs stitch-a-longs on her blog that are completely free. She explains why she decided to implement this community-building strategy and how it’s been working for her. Lots of great ideas here!
And, of course, I ask Anne to share some things she’s loving right now. Anne recommends: