Get to know the makers, businesses and faces who are helping us create Midwest Craft Con! Today we meet Sarah Fisher, shop owner of The Hoop and Needle in Cincinnati and online force behind Purple Hippo Stitches. The Hoop and Needle first opened in 2014 to provide downtown Cincinnati as a place to explore cross-stitch and embroidery, and it moved to Northside last year. Sarah will be bringing her store to the Midwest Craft Con trade show!
Megan: How long have you been in the creative scene? How did you get your start?
Sarah: I’ve been cross-stitching since I was 10 years old. When I moved to Indiana for grad school, I started making my own patterns. Stitching was very relaxing compared to grad school. When I lost my main student job in 2010, I started selling some stitches on Etsy and participated in the Bloomington Handmade Market for the first time. I spent the next few years traveling around the Midwest doing as many indie shows as I could and kept outgrowing my studio space in the house. A year and a half ago, I decided to open a small storefront selling cross-stitch and embroidery supplies. After only a year, we packed up and moved into a huge new storefront with plenty of room to expand.
Megan: What services do you provide to your community?
Sarah: In our bigger space, we are able to hold classes and are teaching the next generation to stitch. Every month, a group of about 15 stitchers meet at our storefront for Sip ‘N Stitch, which is exactly what it sounds like: stitching and alcoholic beverages! We also want to show people that there’s plenty of great projects out there that aren’t just cutesy teddy bears and angels. There are tons of modern patterns available and we also stock of adult-oriented stitches!
Megan: What are you most proud of when it comes to your business?
Sarah: Sometimes, you just have to take a huge risk, and moving into our new storefront has really paid off. I’m proud that I took the plunge, because our other location just wasn’t working out. It took a lot of work getting this place usable. It was an old bank that hadn’t been updated since the ’70s. But our landlord let us customize the entire interior and let us paint a mural on the front of the building. Now, this place really feels like it’s all mine.
Megan: What is one big mistake you would suggest others avoid when entering the handmade arena?
Sarah: Don’t put all your time and effort into an Etsy shop. The market is oversaturated, and I’ve seen many small businesses (including my own) take big hits to sales after major policy changes. Just make sure you have a back-up plan. Also, product design and packaging is really key. Watch your customers and see how they respond. I’ve gone through at least three major product redesigns that wouldn’t have happened if I knew what I know now. For example, an artist that I carry in my store recently redesigned all of her packaging and her sales in my store have easily doubled.
Megan: Any big goals for the new year?
Sarah: This year is all about building on the foundations of last year and getting the store to turn a profit. (Nope, we aren’t there yet! Moving was expensive!) I also want to get back into cross-stitch design and make a few new kits and patterns.
Megan: What are you most looking forward to at Midwest Craft Con?
Sarah: I practically live in my store at this point, so I can’t wait for a weekend away with other crafty people and sharing our experiences.
Sarah will be joining us for all three days at the conference along with her perpetual unpaid intern and husband, Tim. Be nice to him — he can teach you how to embroider or cross-stitch!