I have always been open that I started Hartford Stitch in a fairly unconventional way. You’re told that before opening a business you should have a business plan, have short and long term goals planned, have a marketing plan… basically have all sorts of plans. When we started it (it was a “we”, shortly became a “me”) we just wanted to share our love of sewing and find something else to do in addition to taking care of our young children (and that, my friends, is another post for another time!). We started without a home, without much of an idea of what we wanted to accomplish or how to do it. We each put in a little seed money to get our first machines (a whopping 3), insurance and website. And then we started throwing things against the wall to see what would stick. I remember telling my husband “If I could get to a point where I had a private lesson once a week then I would consider this a success”. (For the record, 30 kids and 15 adults came through our studio this past week!) Over the course of the past 4 years some ideas were good and stuck, and some ideas weren’t. Every step of the way this community was crucial in helping me figure out our purpose. What did we want Hartford Stitch to be? Not only what classes would we offer but what were you looking for when you stepped into the class room? Alright, so you were looking for sewing skills. That’s why you probably Googled us in the first place. But for many, it turned out to be more than that. You were looking to connect with other creative people, you were looking for a hobby, you were looking for inspiration, you were looking for a community. In my eyes there are two great successes in teaching a class: when you learn the skill you came to learn AND when people exchange numbers or emails after class to stay in touch. They have found the joy in connecting over sewing and that makes me over-the-moon happy. I LOVE that Hartford Stitch has become more than a “place to learn how to sew”. It’s made up of people who come together to sew quilts for charity, people who come together to hang out and sew on the first Friday of the month, people who trade supplies, people who exchange pattern ideas, people who stop their own project to listen to what’s going on in your life, and people who offer cheerleading when you’re unsure of the quality of your finished project. All of this has brought life to the slogan on our front door “This is My Happy Place”. Cliche? Totally. True? Absolutely. Walking in that door gives me genuine joy every time and I hope it does for you too. There’s a reason we have one big table in the middle of the room. Growing up my dad’s house had a big plank farmhouse table in the kitchen. My memories are of it covered with projects: valentines, drawing supplies, cookie decorating, snowflake cutting, clay creations, candy making and later on, my wedding flowers. When it was time to eat we would transfer everything to another surface and all 7 of us would sit together and talk about our days or the “question of the night”. We would connect. That’s what I wanted from our sewing table at the studio. And I believe that’s what we’ve achieved. Believe me, there would be a lot of efficiencies in the studio if I opted to have all the tables against the wall, instead of one big one in the middle. One, I could fit more people instead of limiting our class sizes. Two, class would move along a lot quicker if everyone worked in their own bubble. I can’t tell you how many times I would come home after the first night of a multi-week class and tell my husband “We’re ahead of schedule!” Only to come back the following week and say “Well, they spent a lot of the night talking so we may be ‘on schedule’ now”. To come back two weeks later and say “They are really going to have to focus next week. We’re so behind! They chatted the whole time. (But I wouldn’t have it any other way.)” In my opinion, connection in the studio is just as important as sewing. When I was on vacation recently I spent a lot of time reflecting on this. I feel that now, as we are coming to the end of our 4th year of business, it’s time to have a direction. That “plan” that is so espoused when you open a business. And here it is: Hartford Stitch is about connecting: with the art of sewing, with others and with yourself. It might not be numbers and forecasts that are suggested, but that’s what we’re all about.
And so I ask you, what connection are you looking for when you walk through our doors? I say “This is my: happy place.” But how would you fill in the blank? (By the way this amazing art is by Block21Prints!) Over the next few months I’m looking forward to sharing stories of Hartford Stitchers and how they connect with the studio, as well as blog posts, some helpful and some just chatty, that may help you connect with your sewing practice and our amazing community. I can’t thank you all enough for being on this awesome journey with me. If you haven’t yet been to the studio please know that you are welcome any time! Come for a Friday Night Hang Out + Sew, an Open Workshop, or a Project class. I promise you’ll find a teacher who cannot wait to share their love of sewing, a class of creative learners just like you and a new community to be a part of!
PS- We have Happy Place swag! Check out this link to order stickers and pre-order shirts (pre-order ends 3/15).