It’s entirely possible to have a thriving business making stuffed animals, dolls, and other whimsical things. My guests on today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast are living proof. I’m talking with Cynthia Treen and Alison Kaplan.

Cynthia Treen is a Rhode Island-based designer and textile artist. She’s worked in design and craft since her studies at the Rhode Island School of Design in the early ’90s and has designed for Dosa in Los Angeles, and Martha Stewart Living magazine and television in NY before settling back in Providence, Rhode Island in 2002.

Cynthia-Treen-productsA sampling of Cynthia’s threadfollower kits and her book, Last-Minute Fabric Gifts.

In 2010 Cynthia took a transformative year off to design and make a private commission of four hand-stitched quilts. This intensive project, and her passion to share the craft of hand-stitching were the seeds that inspired the creation of her threadfollower hand-stitching kits, which she launched in 2011. Her threadfollower kits now sell in over one hundred gift shops, museum shops, and sewing boutiques across the U.S. and internationally. Both her kit line and PDF patterns are also available in her Etsy shop.

In addition to her kit business, Cynthia splits her time between private quilt commissions and craft product design work. Cynthia is the author of Last Minute Fabric Gifts, published by Stewart Tabori and Chang in 2006. You can shop for Cynthia’s kits in her Etsy shop.

My second guest is Alison Kaplan, the founder and Creative Director of Kata Golda, an independently owned business in Port Townsend, WA that creates handmade items using letterpress printing, ceramics, wool felt and fabrics. Kata Golda began in 1999 when Alison started making toys for her baby girl, Odette. As her daughter grew and began to draw Alison made her a sketchbook, decorated with a hand-stitched felt teddy bear and adorned with her name. It became the forerunner of the Kata Golda collection.

Kata Golda ProductsA small sampling of Kata Golda products along with Alison’s book, Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt.

Kata Golda has grown into a flourishing business with the help of many skilled artisans living on the West Coast of the United States. The company strives to pay living wages and preserve handicrafts such as needlework, letterpress printing, hand-thrown pottery, hand-dyed textiles, felting and bookbinding.

Alison is the author of Kata Golda’s Hand-Stitched Felt: 25 Whimsical Sewing Projects, also published by Stewart Tabori and Chang in 2009 and she has several classes on Creative Bug. You can shop for Kata Golda products in her Etsy shop.


During our conversation, Cynthia and Alison describe their journeys from making one cute thing to becoming business owners. We talk about creativity, teaching, and hiring help. It’s a great conversation and I was honored to have them on the show.

Of course, it wouldn’t be an episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast without recommendations!

Alison recommends:

Cynthia recommends:

We didn’t get a chance to talk about these next two, but Cynthia asked me to include them anyway for you to check out on your own:

And I recommend:

  • Sarah Bailey of SpunMonkey for WordPress help that’s fast, thorough, and not expensive

You can listen to the show right here by clicking on the arrow below or subscribe in iTunes. Either way, it’s always free. If you enjoy the show, tell a friend about it, okay?

Happy listening.

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