On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast, we’re talking about creating a subscription with my guest Mary Grabenstatter.

Mary is the owner of Needle Sharp, a monthly subscription sewing box service she founded in 2017 that offers curated garment projects as well as fabric and patterns.  The company is a culmination of Mary’s love of crafting in her youth, her knowledge of computers and design from her editing experience, and her invaluable experience in retail from Barnes and Noble. Every day, she feels like she’s learning and improving as a sewist.

This episode is sponsored by the Nome Schoolhouse.

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Mary Grabenstatter

We begin this conversation with Mary talking about her childhood growing up in Buffalo, New York. Mary says her creative mom encouraged her to try all different sorts of crafts, although she didn’t truly delve into garment sewing until she was an adult.

Mary went to Boston College where she studied French and film, and she spent a semester abroad in Paris. After college, she began working as an editor for films, a job she really enjoyed. When she got laid off, she took a job at Barnes and Noble, working her way up for the course of ten years. Mary shares some of the lessons she learned about merchandising and serving customers during that period.

It was while she was at Barnes and Noble that Mary asked her mother to teach her to sew.

Mary’s first self-sewn dress, made from quilting cotton.

Once she began sewing clothes, Mary found she was truly able to dress the way she wanted. To share that passion with others, she started Needle Sharp, a garment sewing subscription box and kit company. We talk about the process she went through in developing the kits and packaging, the back-end of the Needle Sharp website that runs the subscriptions, and sourcing.

Hands putting items into a sewing subscription box

Needle Sharp subscription box

In this conversation, we refer to:

And, of course, I ask Mary to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Mary recommends:

  • Improving your baking skills
  • English Paper Piecing
  • boygenius for fans of Phoebe Bridgers

Get a subscription to Needle Sharp, or buy some fabric, or a garment sewing kit for yourself or as a gift. And follow Needle Sharp on Instagram for updates.

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