100% Organic Cotton Fabrics
For home sewers, businesses, retailers, and anyone who gives a scrap!
Today marks the 3rd anniversary of Stitch Simple! In case you aren't familiar with Stitch Simple, I thought I'd take this occasion to interview Jen (the founder) and tell you about her unusual and wonderful business.
Tell us how you came up with the idea for Stitch Simple?
The Reader’s Digest version is that after I finished business school, I wanted to celebrate and make a quilt. I had stopped sewing altogether while I was in school- so I had forgotten about all the tedium required to just get fabric ready to sew. You have to wash it, press it like crazy (those bizarre wrinkled twists of fabric that come out of the dryer are SO hard to deal with) and cut it- all of which takes hours for any given project. I thought surely I could buy fabric that would already be washed, pressed and maybe even cut into squares or other pieces- but I was wrong. There were plenty of precuts available, but none of them were washed which is really important to me as well as many sewing and quilting enthusiasts. So, I figured I could start by writing a business plan for the idea (and put that new degree to good use right away!). While writing the plan, the concept started to take a life of its own and eventually I pulled together enough resources to get started.
What has been the most rewarding part of the last 3 years? The hardest part?
Hands down the most rewarding part of the last 3 years has been getting positive customer feedback about our products. From people with physical disabilities that prevent them from cutting accurately to busy crafters who just need more hours in day, it is amazing to hear how our products make sewing and quilting easier for our customers and in some cases all out possible.
The hardest part has been getting the word out about Stitch Simple. Many people don’t even know products like ours exist and so they don’t know to come looking for us. It is hard (and expensive) to market effectively in this kind of situation. It also requires a lot of patience, which is not something anyone who knows me would cite among my virtues. Thankfully, persistence is and I’ve found peace in my grassroots marketing efforts. The community surrounding the textile industry and DIY crafters has been amazingly supportive. I’m fueled by their kind comments and positive energy every day.
Who do you see as your main customer?
Anyone who sews of course! More specifically, anyone who cannot or does not want to get their own fabric ready to sew. That brings to mind people with physical ailments that make ironing and cutting uncomfortable, crafty parents (do you want to actually sew during nap time or iron?) and crafters on a deadline (forgot you promised to make a quilt for that baby shower next month?) to name just a few.
What is a Quilt du Jour?
Quilt Kit du Jour is our daily pick of fabrics for a CYO (Create-Your-Own) quilt kit. Our kits are unique in that they let you choose the exact fabric you want in your quilt, which is great but sometimes the choices can be mesmerizing and it helps to take a look at some examples for inspiration. We post a new QKDJ (including a coordinating apron!) every Monday-Thursday plus we maintain a brief archive of around 50 or so examples for customers to look through if they are feeling stuck.
This was a Quilt du Jour back in May that featured all Harmony Art fabrics: Evelyn, Whispering Grass, Chocolate Brown and Pale Auqa.
In honor of Stitch Simple's birthday they are offering .99 cent shipping for all US orders and 50% off international shipping through October 24th! (Note: Sale is for retail orders only.)
I am proud that Stitch Simple offers Harmony Art organic fabrics to their customers. We wish them a HAPPY BIRTHDAY and MANY MORE! THANKS JEN!
This week my friend Elaine posted on Facebook:
Thinking of you today, Harmony - I'm wearing my favorite Eyes of the World skirt for a green Monday.
This got us talking about creating a Green Monday Movement. What if each of us made a conscious effort to do something "green" every Monday? It could be wearing organic cotton, remembering your fabric bag when you go shopping, biking to work, eating an organic meal, planting a seed, recycling, up-cycling, picking up a piece of trash, taking public transit . . . the possibilities are endless!
I am not personally much into Twitter, but Elaine suggested we start a #GreenMonday hashtag (is that the right word?) and see if we can take this concept viral! Do you think we can do it? Let's try!!!
I encourage you to post pictures or comment on the Harmony Art facebook page next Monday (September 26th) and every Monday after that about what you did on "Green Monday". Or you can add a comment on this blog too. Feel free to spread the word on Twitter, your own facebook page or blog . . . and let's see what happens! If nothing else, it will be fun for the few of us who take the call to action and perhaps, just perhaps it will catch on.
To quote Elaine again, "Mondays have been blue for too long!"
When I attended my first All Things Organic conference and trade show back in 2004, I rode the bus back to our hotel with a buyer from China. We got to talking, he owned a natural foods store in China. I asked him why he came all the way to Chicago to source products for his store. Couldn't you get anything you needed in China? I have never forgotten his response: "They'll lie to you and tell you it is organic but it isn't." Oh my. That answer from a Chinese man about his own country's organics convinced me to steer clear of Chinese produced organic fabrics.
I have been approached by many "organic" fabric producers from overseas in the last 6 years. It only takes 2 questions: "What is your organic cotton fabric certified to?" and "Who is your certifier?" If they can't answer those basic questions I know they are clueless at best and potential frauds at worst.
Then I met Laurie and Tony from Sapphire International Ltd.. (Our meeting was one of those incredible small world experiences -- too long to go into here -- but if you are interested post a comment and I will post that story later.) As we ate lunch at the Timber Cove Inn there was an instant connection. Not only were they also members of the OTA, they knew about GOTS. They had been to the same Organic Exchange (now the Textile Exchange) conference I had. These were not phonies. They knew their stuff. We commiserated and collaborated, brainstormed and shared stories. They showed me videos of their weaving facility (in China) and explained the process.
When they asked me to create an Australian animal theme towel collection for their Breganwood label of course I said YES. Now, I must admit, I am a print designer by trade....NOT a woven designer so this was uncharted territory for me. Add to the complexity that they were experimenting with a NEW 4 color Jacquard weaving technique and it was an uphill battle getting the design figured out. The learning curve on this project was exceptionally steep but many emails and skype conversations later.... you can see the finished product above and below. I think we both learned a lot.
From the moment we met, I was impressed with Laurie and Tony. I am confident in their ethics and their commitment to true organic production. Yep, an Australian themed organic towel, designed in California and woven in China. It's true, textiles are indeed a global industry and there are good, honest, thoughtful people EVERYWHERE!
For your chance to win one of these cozy towels, just "like" Breganwood on facebook and then leave a comment on which Jacquard towel is your favorite before Sept. 30th. They will also have a booth at the upcoming ABC show in KY (booth 4402). Feel free to stop by and tell them hello if you are attending the show.
Debra Lynn Dadd has published another book: TOXIC FREE: How to Protect Your Health and Home from the Chemicals That are Making You Sick. Debra has been a consumer advocate on this subject since 1982. Her journey began in 1978 when she first found out that there were toxic chemicals in her own home making her sick. She has worked tirelessly for the last 30 years to understand and help educate others about the day to day decisions that impact our homes and health.
To celebrate the launch of her latest book she is conducting a 12 hour internet radio marathon and has asked yours truly to be one of the guests. I am honored. YOU too can listen and call in with your questions this THURSDAY! The radio show will go from noon to midnight east coast time (or 9am - 9pm for us west coast peeps). I am scheduled for the show #6 at 10pm eastern time (7pm west coast).
The show will be recorded and can be listened to later but I would LOVE to have some people listening live and calling in with their questions.
Founder of Harmony Art organic design.