Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Norden's Needleworkers - 05/30/12

Q: What are my favorite design themes?
A:  At Little House we know no such thing as a favorite theme!  As you can see by looking at our web site, we are all over the place.  I like to say there is something here for everyone.  But if the question were, “Which designs do you put on the walls of my own home”, I would name specifically The Family Sampler, Thirteen Colonies, The Coffee Menu, Simple Joys, Melicent Turner, and a few others.  I live in a home with a lot of open space and too few walls making it difficult to choose which go up and which go into closets.

Q:  Which design is my favorite?
A:  Of of all of the designs we have published, Thirteen Colonies is my favorite.  And what makes it more special is that my mom stitched it.

Q:  Do I use model stitchers?
A:  Yes I do and I LOVE them!  Our model stitchers are the backbone of the company.  Without them we’d have to fold up shop.  Carol (my mom), Evie, Milly, Renee, Rita and Vonna (in alphabetical order) have been a huge blessing to me for many years and I cherish their support and friendship as well.

Q: Has my style changed over time and how do I feel about my older designs?
A:  As a designer I have evolved over time but I am still true to my roots.  Who I am as a designer is embedded in me.  Even without a name on a pattern a stitcher can see an LHN pattern in an instant.  I can say that about other designers as well.  Once the style is established it transfers to every design I do regardless of the theme.  I feel my older designs are still relevant today.  I like to believe my style is time resistant and won’t show age decades from now.  Our earliest patterns, America and Home of a Needleworker are still two of our most popular patterns.

Q: Do I have any advice for aspiring designers?
A:  I know that some times the best things in life are worth waiting for.  That is so true in my own life.  The journey to become a designer can happen in an instant or it can evolve over time as you grow and become better at what it is you do.  Many of you know I was a freelance designer for Leisure Arts before self-publishing.  But what you don’t know is that before I began selling to them I was rejected by other publications.  And as a matter of fact, Leisure Arts turned down the two patterns I mentioned above, America and Home of a Needleworker.  So what I’m saying is that if you believe in your work and others do too, continue on until you find your niche.  It may not happen over night but you never know!

Q:  How important is social media in the industry and how do we use it for Little House?
A:  In this day and age it seems we simply cannot function well without the internet and all it offers.  My favorite way to relay information to stitchers and shop owners is through our blog.  I love sharing bits and pieces of my own life but more importantly it’s the preview area for designs we are releasing in the current month.  We are also on Facebook but it is far more limiting so we use it more for announcements rather than chats.

On a Personal Note -
Q:  What are my favorite books?
A:  I love talking about books and I am constantly comparing everything I read to my all-time favorites.  In no particular order these are my favs: Angela’s Ashes, Lonesome Dove, The Winds of War and the trilogy of books by Nancy Turner starting with These Is My Words.  The genres are all over the place, just like my design themes!

Q:  What is my favorite meal?
A:  I grew up loving good old fashioned meatloaf and mashed potatoes!  Some things never change and that includes my taste for this down-home meal.  Add some green beans on the side and I’m a happy girl.  For dessert, how about a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream topped with chocolate?  I’m easy to please.  :)

Q:  What are my favorite movies?
A:  I adore period movies, historical epics and movies made from books, but my favorite movies are from the Pixar Studios.  I am over the moon in love with Cars, Ratatouille, Up, Nemo and so on.  I never get tired of them.  In fact I often use them as my computer wallpaper.  I’ll bet you are surprised by that answer!

Q: What would I do if I won the lottery?
A:  Sorry everyone, but Ron and I would quit our jobs and travel!  What did you think I’d say?  Lol. . . . . 

Q:  Who has influenced me most in my personal life?
A:  My mom and dad.  My parents gave me a good foundation for living which has stayed with me all my years.  My mom enjoys being a part of the LHN family and I am happy to share it with her.  My only true sadness comes when I am reminded that my dad never saw it happen as he left us the year before the business began in 2002.

Thank you all for the way in which you have embraced our ornaments series.  As a way of saying “thank you“, we are offering you this complimentary pattern to add to your collection.  
Diane Williams
Little House Needleworks

In Stitches - Alexandria, VA

How long have you been a stitcher and how did you first learn about stitching?   I joined 4-H when I was 9 and did all kinds of hand and machine sewing.  I started with counted cross stitch in 1972 (oh my goodness, that is 40 years ago) and progressed to needlepoint and knitting in 1998. 

What are some of the biggest changes in the industry you’ve seen since you’ve been in business?
The computer age followed by I-phone and I-pad have changed the way we all do business.  Customers follow blogs and seem to know before I do, when a hot new product or line or design is coming out.  It keeps me on my toes and constantly checking websites, both wholesale and retail.  I used to sit with various reps and talk about what was new in between markets.  Now there are very few reps (except knitting) and we rely heavily on the computer.

How important is social media in the cross-stitch industry and how do you make use of it for your company?   
In today’s world, the only way to stay even with the pack is to have a website and an extensive e-mail newsletter following.  Having a blog is helpful and I do have someone who writes one for us.  I do not have a shopping cart on my website and at this point I am comfortable with that decision.

Have you ever attended a TNNA trade show, and if so what are your thoughts on it?
Since I bought In Stitches in 1995, I have attended at least 3 trade shows each year.  Some years that number stretched to 4.  I believe trade shows are one of my most valuable tools for staying connected.   They are not only an avenue to see new products showcased, but also a time to strengthen ties with vendors and other shop owners.  As the economy tightened over the last few years, I have searched for ways to keep my costs lower when attending markets.  I am fortunate to have friends who live in some of the cities that host TNNA shows and I stay with them when possible. 

Is there an event or promotion that you offer that you feel is incredibly successful that you’d like to share?  
We do several sales during the course of the year, Super Bowl, Christmas in July and the ”you buy it, we don’t have to count it” after Christmas sale.  We tie trunk shows to these sale events.  The most successful thing we do is to have ‘Lock-Ins” 3 or 4 times a year.  We advertise the night; have folks call in and register (and pay) about 2 weeks before the night and remind them to bring a stitching project with them.  We serve a great dinner, have wonderful door prizes and sell like crazy.  We have only had one so far in 2012 and we are getting lobbied heavily for the next one.  We can only take 30 so registration fills quickly. 

On a Personal Note - 

Besides stitching and running your business, what are a few things you enjoy in your free time?               
I enjoy traveling with my family, shopping with a couple of friends and playing board games with family or friends.    Managing my time is always the tricky part.

Would you share a little about your family? 
Husband Dan, we have been married for 34 years.  He works as a consultant in DC and worked for two years in second Bush White House.   3 children, Katie is 26 and works on Capitol Hill for a Congressman from Minnesota, (and is getting married in April 2013), son, Andrew is 24 and finishing his Finance Major at George Mason University and son, Ben who is  20 and just finished his second year as an Engineering Major at the University of Virginia.  Oh and one black lab, Sadie, almost 13 who keeps us on our toes.

Would you like to share a favorite recipe? 
My family thinks I make the best potato salad in the world.  It is very simple and does not have too many ingredients.  Boil 5 pounds of red potatoes and let them cool.  Peel and chop and put them in a large bowl.  Mix 1-1.5 cups of Hellman’s Real Mayo (no substitutes will do) with 2 TBSP of Dijon mustard, 1 TBSP of coarse ground black pepper and as much garlic as you would like (I usually use 3 TBSP of chopped).  Add salt to taste, usually about 1 TBSP.   Pour this mixture over the cooled potatoes and mix gently.  Cover tightly and refrigerate overnight.  Great on the first day, even better the second.  IF it seems dry, stir in just a little more mayo.  Sometimes the red potatoes suck up more mayo than I expect. 

What’s your greatest strength? What’s your biggest weakness? 
The ladies, who work for me, tell me that my memory is truly a great strength.  I can remember who we ordered something from 5 years ago.  I am not so good with names, but data I can remember.   A great weakness is that I tend to take on too much, whether in my professional or personal life.  Learning to say no should be my strength, but I am still working on that one.

Who inspires you and why?   My husband’s sister was swimming in a lake in Minnesota and lost both legs in a freak plane accident when she was just 13.  She never suffered a day of depression and went on to learn to walk with 2 artificial legs.  Beyond walking, she did everything including skiing with no outriggers which is very rare for a double amputee.  Nothing held her back.   I look at what she has accomplished, how positive she has always been and know she is a wonderful role model. 

Ellen Meyer - Owner
8800-F Pear Tree Village
Alexandria, VA 22309


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