Q: How did you get your start?

A: I enjoy working with fabric and clothing. I happened to work with a company that sent me to a lot of trade shows. I saw a woman with an embroidery business (at a boat show). I thought I’d like to do that.

Q: What kind of work were you in before?

A: I was in sales for a manufacturer of galvanized hardware.

Q: What’s a typical day at work like?

A: Basically, I do custom embroidery. Anybody who has a business or a school or any club, fraternal organization — I can do a logo and sew it on. I also do a lot of linens, initials. I also can create one-of-a-kind shirts with people.

Q: Are you a one-woman operation?

A: I’m a one-person shop, geared toward smaller independent businesses that don’t necessarily want to order 25 items, 100 items. I can do one or two or 10. I do a lot with small businesses, not that I can’t do the big orders because I do.

Q: What sort of machinery do you have?

A: It’s a Tajima machine. Not your little home sewing machines. These are $16,000 machines. So they can do just about anything.

Q: How does the computer come into it?

A: I pick a design with the client. We assign the colors that they want it to be, make any customized changes. If they want something left out or added to the design, we can do that.

Q: Does it require drawing skills?

A: Someone else has done all the hard work. They’ve done the designs, they’ve digitized all the fonts. Say, for instance, you’re a tennis player and you want a shirt with a tennis player on it. It’s already in my software. We just decide whether it’s going to be pink and green or yellow and red, what color the tennis ball is going to be and if you want text with it. We choose the text, the font, the style of text you want. We arc it, we make it straight, we make it spherical.

Q: So how many designs are in this computer system?

A: There are 20,000 designs — over 20,000 designs. And from those I can tweak and take elements from one design and remove it and add another from a different design. There are so many different possibilities, it’s incredible. Part of the reason for the name of my company is whatever you’re passionate about, I can stitch it for you.

Q: How do your clients find you? How do you find them?

A: A lot of it is word of mouth. When a client or a customer is happy, they tell others. I do a lot of networking. And my yellow pages ad probably brings me 75 percent of my business.

Q: Where are your clients from?

A: Pretty local. Portland, Falmouth, Yarmouth, Saco, Gorham. I do a lot for Bonny Eagle High School, Buxton, South Portland High School. I’m certainly not doing something for someone in California, unless it’s a friend of a friend who’s just moved or something.

Q: Do you do all your work in your shop?

A: My living room is my shop. So you walk in the door, my shop is where the living room would be if it were just my home. But I put my machinery up, and my workbenches and everything are all in this room.

Q: So it’s not a place for TV or board games anymore?

A: It’s relocated to the bedroom. Our living room is two recliners at the foot of the bed with a flat screen TV on the wall.

Q: Is it hard having your home and work lives in the same place?

A: I used to have a retail shop up behind Lois’s Natural (Marketplace). I find this much easier. If I want to invert my day and spend the morning getting housework done and laundry and stuff like that, I can do that. Then I can work until late at night because I don’t have to drive home or have my lights on and draw attention to me in a retail area that’s closed.

Q: Is this your first business?

A: No, it’s not my first. My husband (Steve) and I owned a commercial cleaning business about 15 years ago and worked together. And then we sold that and moved up here to Maine. From Massachusetts, like everybody else.

I had my own business when my boys were in school. I was a seamstress. I kind of liked that idea. So when I lost my job the last time, I said, “That’s it. I’m not working for anybody anymore.” So I gave it a shot. I’m too independent. I like to be in control. I don’t like somebody to tell me, “Alright, we don’t need you anymore. Good-bye.” I want to be in control. If I fail or succeed — it’s me.

Q: Do you have plans for the business when your husband retires from his current job?

A: We’d like to be able to do this and take it on the road. It’s one of those things, I’m not sure if it will ever be making enough to do that or not. We still have a few years. We’re thinking about it.

Q: How many items do you embroider in a week?

A: It’s unpredictable. Certainly the holidays, Christmas time, it’s busier because I have a lot more people coming in, but those are like one-piece items, like a stocking or personalizing a set of towels for anybody. Whereas during the year, I have different schools that I work for. There’s more pieces, but it’s less customers.

Q: Do you ever get to go on vacation?

A: I usually take a week off. To me, that’s successful if I can take a week vacation. I live in Vacationland. Where would I go? Why would I want to go anywhere?


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