On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about slow stitching with my guest Samantha Hoyt.
Samantha Hoyt is the owner and creative director of A Gathering of Stitches, a series of small-scale immersive retreats in Maine for quilters and garment sewists. She has been running the Slow Stitching and Slow Fashion retreats since 2015. The business began as a Maker Space in Portland’s East Bayside neighborhood in 2013. Before A Gathering of Stitches, Samantha was a partner with her ex-husband in Rabelais, Fine Books on Food & Wine, a culinary book store also in Portland from 2008 to today.
She was raised in New York City and had a number of careers before landing her craft role. She started with modern dance in her 20s, photography in her 20s and ’30s (including a 7-year stint as a photo editor at People magazine), and arriving in the world of food as a pastry cook before moving to Maine in 2005.
She has been sewing and knitting since childhood and has always liked to throw a good party, so the retreats make her very happy.
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We begin this conversation with Samantha talking about her creative journey. Samantha pursued modern dance when she was young and continued with it while studying sociology at Vassar. Shortly after graduating, though, she realized that she was not going to be able to become a professional dancer so she went back to school to get a certification in photography. She talks about her years working as a photo editor including at fast-paced magazine jobs such as People. Feeling burned out, she decided to get another certification, this time to become a pastry chef, a job she quickly also realized was not quite the right fit. She then went on to co-own and run a food and wine bookstore where she did quite a bit of event planning.
Samantha sees thru lines in each of these occupations that eventually led her to open A Gathering of Stitches. That business’ first incarnation was as a maker space. She was renting portions of the space to artists and after a while realized she needed to pivot and offer summertime retreats focused on slow stitching. I ask Samantha what she is looking for when hiring guest instructors for her retreats. We also talk about the financial viability of retreats as a business model and how they could scale.
During this conversation, we reference:
- The Workroom in Toronto, Squam, and The Makerie
- Gather Here
- Textile Arts Center in Brooklyn
- Amy Butler, Heather Jones, Chawne Kimber, and Melanie Falick
And, of course, I ask Samantha to recommend great stuff she’s loving right now. Samantha recommends:
- The Top Down Center Out fitting method for making pants. Conceived by Ruth Collins for an article last Summer in Threads Magazine, and expanded into a series of helpful tutorials on YouTube by Stacey Wirt
- Creative coach Maria Bowler
- Cannelle et Vanille Bakes Simple