On today’s episode of the Craft Industry Alliance podcast we’re talking about launching a kit and pattern business with my guest, Susan Fitzgerald. Susan lives near me in the Boston area so were actually able to record this interview in person in Susan’s beautiful studio.
Susan designs modern cross stitch kits and patterns. Her work features stitching on unconventional materials like wood, leather, and acrylic. Her innovative designs have been featured in a number of cross stitch, quilting, and craft publications including CrossStitcher magazine and Mollie Makes.
With a background in science and technology, Susan did not set out to become a cross stitch designer. She taught herself to stitch in her 20’s as a creative counterpoint to working long days in the corporate world. While dabbling in other crafts like knitting, quilting, and weaving, cross stitch was always the pursuit she came back to.
As her cross stitch practice evolved, Susan began to explore stitching on alternative materials like wood and leather. She loved how modern and unexpected the pieces were. In 2012 she created a line of cross stitch jewelry kits featuring the unconventional materials and began selling them on Etsy. She now sells an expanded range of kits to fabric and yarn shops across the country and internationally.
In this conversation we talk about developing a product that you love to make and that will be viable in the marketplace. We also talk about sourcing supplies, including outsourcing, and preparing kits. Susan share some really valuable tips on how to make a kit that will be appealing to customers encountering it for the first time in a quilt shop or yarn shop as well as online. Over time Susan has had to adjust her idea of her ideal customer and she explains how she’s done that and the effect it’s had.
Susan attends both TNNA and Quilt Market and we talk about what she’s hoping to achieve when she attends trade shows and how to she sells her products to shops. Susan has had to make some hard choices about the growth of her company and she explains how she thinks about the future and keeping the scale of her business in check.
Cross stitch pendant kit from Red Gate Stitchery.
Definitely check out Red Gate Stitchery on Instagram. Susan does a wonderful job with photography and has come up with a DIY Instagram scheduling technique that is pretty brilliant (and free)!
Of course, I ask Susan to recommend great stuff she’s enjoying right now. Susan recommends:
- Anything and everything by Lisa Congdon, especially her CreativeBug videos
- Volunteering in my daughter’s elementary school art class
- Japanese embroidery kogin
Stitchable wood buttons from Red Gate Stitchery.
Catch up with Susan on the Red Gate Stitchery blog and be sure to check out her Resources section to get her basic cross stitch guide and design grids.
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