Oh, the Swirling and A-Twirling!

So I ended last week’s blog saying that I have a ton of ideas for Fire Poppies. But first, I REALLY need to point out that my husband was a critical part of the “birth” of this idea. He didn’t skip a beat that day when the three of us were talking and I told Keith, our life coach, that he could help me open a shop. My husband turned to me and said, “You should do it”, at which point Keith simply raised his eyebrows and shot me a look that said, “So now whatcha gonna do?” With my husband’s support and Keith’s coaching, what excuses could I possibly have left?

So let’s talk about what’s swirling around in my brain when I think of Fire Poppies.

One of my short term goals is to offer full service framing, but that will be dependent on how many square feet the physical shop ends up being. If I get to have my cake and eat it too, then the tagline will change to “A Contemporary Needlework and Framing Boutique.” The plan is to frame more than just needlework and I want to be able to advertise the framing aspect separately if that turns out to be advantageous.

A little farther down the road, I plan on using Fire Poppies to work with new and established artists in converting their artwork to cross stitch patterns. There are some amazing artists right here in Charleston. With the advent of sites like Etsy, access to art and artists I wouldn’t normally have the pleasure of viewing, is now available with the click of a mouse. There are SOOO many pieces that would make AMAZING patterns! I would love to help these artists bring their art to even more audiences, and I believe that stitching is the perfect vehicle. This means diving headfirst into learning how to license artwork and distribute patterns. It also means I will need to get to know someone that is good at taking a piece of art, using software to convert it into a chart, and then doing any clean-up work for the final pattern. Oh, and some model stitchers. I’ll need to meet some of them, too. Drop me a line if any of these are one of your talents and you want to get in on the fun!

Of course there will be lots and lots of classes! I want to have a designer led class and/or trunk show each month. Plus, I want to have classes that teach things other than how to do a new stitch or teach you how to stitch on a different fabric, though those types of classes will absolutely be staples on the calendar. But I want to have classes that teach things that I’ve always wanted to know how to do, even though I will most likely never do those things full time.

For instance, I want to know how to over-dye fabrics and floss. Part of the learning experience will give me a larger appreciation for those that do those things for a living, and that makes it easier to appreciate why I’m paying a higher price for those items. Plus, it gives me a skill that I can use if I simply can’t find a particular shade for a project and I can then try my own hand at getting the result I need.

I’d also like to learn how to do finishing work that involves sewing. I will have a sewing machine (or two) in the shop for those folks that want to use it to make one of their pieces into a stocking, pillow, what have you, but who don’t want to invest in a machine for those occasional projects. And, as a stitcher that isn’t super comfortable with a machine (I can do basic sewing), marrying fabric with that cross stitch project that I just put many, many hours into, is flat out terrifying.

Then there are things like how to make a good Floss Tube video, what social media cross stitch groups you should consider belonging to, tips and tricks, the list goes on and on! Oh and Zhuzhing! That is an actual word, folks. A few of my stitching friends were using the term several years ago and when I gave them a blank look, they explained that it basically meant jazzing/changing the piece up beyond the original instructions. I was such a rule follower when it came to charts back then (and recipes, ha ha!) , that it hadn’t occurred to me that I could use a different fabric or floss from what was listed. It was quite freeing actually, even though part of me still feels like I’m breaking the rules a little bit. But it’s a good kind of breaking the rules.

I mean, why not add a little shimmer to an area of water by incorporating some metallic blending filament? Or use beads in place of french knots or perhaps even use an over-dyed or variegated floss in those areas that might benefit from some interesting shading? A class that teaches us recipe/rule followers that it is OK to color outside of the lines as often as possible, would open up a whole new world for many of us. And for those of you who are “thrower-inners” when it comes to cooking and stitching, attending a class that encourages zhuzhing can expand your already bursting at the seams creativity. Besides, you can be support buddies for those of us who are a little nervous about swapping out DMC for Weeks floss.

And for those of you that always wanted to learn how to design your own pattern, whether it is converting an image that you love, or an original design, I think it would be fantastic to have someone come in and show us how to do that. I have PC Stitch software myself, but got overwhelmed trying to use it so I didn’t.

If you have other ideas for classes besides the ones mentioned above, let me know via Facebook (Fire Poppies Stitchery) or email me at info@firepoppies.com! I am all ears and really want to have some fabulous classes for you to take. If there are designers that you would love to learn from, be sure to let me know!

Oh, and I want to have “Meet the Designer/Artist” events as well. Needlework is such an intimate industry. Unlike sports where players, coaches, and commentators are of such celebrity status that they are virtually untouchable, the designers, teachers, fabric and floss dyers, and others hard at work bringing us the tools and inspiration that brings it all to life WANT to get to know the stitchers that keep the craft going. They are happy to answer an email about a question you might have or come to a shop to teach/introduce their newest creations. In other words, they are accessible.

There is no ivory tower or fence to keep us separated. Because they are stitchers, too. They do this because they love it as much as we do. Plus, objects have much more meaning to me when I can get to know more about the person that made it. It’s even better when it’s in person vs. just reading about them. But that helps, too. There is a connection that is forever forged that won’t be broken. I know I am not alone in thinking like this and I want to expand that experience for both the stitcher and the designer or artist.

And then there are the other fun, random things I’d like to incorporate like themed stitching events in addition to the general open stitching time. I also want to have a monthly needlework “show” where we feature a customers’ stitched pieces in the shop. Not worked the details of that one out just yet, but I do know it will involve store credit of some amount. I feel like this is a great way to showcase stitchers’ work outside of a competition, because it is all beautiful and needs to be admired by as many people as possible!

I think we should bring back “Show and Tell” as well. With wine. Or beer. Or both! Maybe you found a cool gadget or a designer that is new to the scene. Maybe you just finished a piece. I say we have a monthly event with the aforementioned beverages, show off said gadgets, etc. and generally have a jolly good time. You in?? I thought so!

Then there are the little extras that I think are important. Like serging your fabric for you. Making a working copy for you so you don’t have to run to Staples to get it done. Having a good selection of highlighters, reading glasses, cool project bags, needle-minders and other accessories that not only help make stitching easier, but cuter as well. And if you are a guy that likes to stitch, and there are plenty of you out there, then we will have accessories that add that cool factor rather than “cute” for you.

Back to having that cake and eating it too, I would really like a full kitchen in the shop. I’d also like to have an espresso machine, but we will see how that goes. Otherwise, Starbucks better be within walking distance! Ideally there are a couple of restaurants nearby and lots and lots of good parking to accommodate all those folks coming to hang out or attend classes.

Last but not least, Charleston is such a tourist destination with wonderful restaurants and hotels aplenty. Add to that the fact that cruise ships leave from here and that is a recipe for some amazing retreats and special events. My goal is to put on at least two big retreats/events each year. I would love to have one of them be a Nashville style Needlework Market for consumers, where vendors and designers come to sell and teach for a long weekend.

Well, I think that is most of what is swirling and twirling around in my brain. It seems that new inspiration pops up every day, so stay tuned for updates! Until next week...

Susan WinterComment