Exclusive Interview with Katie Richardson from Lainey Lou’s Embroidery

Crafts are enjoying a renewed popularity thanks to online stores, groups, and tutorials. Crafters, now more than ever, have an unlimited amount of resources to help them create their own personalized and customized trinkets, clothes, and accessories.

A favorite craft and pastime among country music fans has always been embroidery. In fact, it’s difficult to find a home decorated in a “country style” without spotting several embroidered items in and around the house. The CMBeat’s founder, Emily Ann Wells, recently got to speak with Katie Richardson, who took a favorite hobby and passion and turned it into her own personalized embroidery business online called Lainey Lou’s Embroidery.

Emily Ann Wells:
Embroidery has always been a popular hobby or pastime with people who live in the country or rural areas. When were you first introduced to embroidery? 

Katie Richardson:
I was first introduced to embroidery through my Aunt about a year and a half ago. I had a sewing machine and had tried several different projects with it but ultimately it gathered dust in a closet. My Aunt had purchased a small embroidery and sewing machine and used it to embroider names or designs on quilts she was making. I always knew big businesses had access to embroidery machines but that was my first time really seeing how an embroidery machine could be used at home. I was also pregnant with my daughter Lainey and knew I could find many projects to do for her throughout the years, so I purchased my first machine.

EAW:
 When did you first realize you wanted to make embroidery your career, and how did you come up with the name Lainey Lou’s Embroidery?

KR:
I had been exploring embroidery for about a year when I decided to make embroidery part of my career. I initially wanted an embroidery machine simply to create peil_570xn-1031155662_bsfhrsonalized items for my children. The more I posted on Facebook and Instagram, the more people I had messaging me and asking me to create items for their children. I had several people suggest that I start selling but I was very skeptical about having enough time to devote to a business. Eventually, one day I just woke up and asked my husband what he thought about me starting an Etsy shop. I had done my research and knew that I could control my sales on Etsy based on how much I wanted to promote or not promote my business. My husband knew that this was more than just a hobby to me and he thought it was a good idea as long as I didn’t overwhelm myself with orders. That very day, I started my store and I haven’t looked back since.

The name “Lainey Lou’s Embroidery” is based on my little girl. Her name is Lainey and we have always called her several different nicknames, one of them being Lainey Lou. I tossed around several different ideas but I wanted to be 100% sure on the name because I knew that would be the basis of my entire store. After some thought, I decided to name it after Lainey because she was one of the main reasons I got into embroidery. As soon as I found out I was having a little girl, I knew I wanted to embroider everything with her name or monogram. She gets to be the guinea pig for a lot of my designs!

EAW:
As you mentioned, your store is on etsy.com… what is it like running your business through etsy? What are the pros and cons of running your business online versus at a brick-and-mortar store? 

KR:
Etsy is an amazing platform for anyone to sell handmade items. It really makes the process easy for you. I can print shipping labels, keep up with all of my orders in one place, and see all of my revenue coming in. This allows me more time to spend with my family and to focus on completing my projects instead of slaving over invoices, ledgers, and shipping labels. Having an online store means you don’t have to pay rent and utilities to keep up with a brick-and-mortar store. Plus, I enjoy getting to work in my home where I feel comfortable and can tend to other needs if I have to. Also, Etsy is web based so people all over the world can see your work. I have sold my items in 26 different states and plan to start shipping internationally when I am more established.

A con of having an online business is that I don’t get to know my clients. I think it would be nice to have a store and get to personally meet everyone coming in to buy my products.

EAW:
What are some of the challenges of raising a family, working a full-time job, and running an etsy.com store as well? What are some of the rewards? 

KR:
The biggest challenge I come across is time management. I have two toddlers under three so I try to spend as much time with them as I can when I get off work. Most of my il_570xn-1112479363_3osjembroidery is done after 8 pm when they go to bed and during nap time on the weekends. This limits me to how many orders I can take on at one time because I’m really only able to complete one design a night. Maybe two if I get a wild hair and decide to stay up later than 10 pm! Etsy is so much more than just throwing pictures of your designs on their website and waiting on orders. There are always messages to answer.  You have to work really hard at your photography skills to get the best image. You have to take time to list and describe each item in a way that will make buyers want to purchase your product. Then of course I constantly research thread, stabilizers, vinyl and blank items such as shirts, backpacks, cups, etc.

The reward is really the extra income that comes from selling your items at a profit. I’m still in the beginning stages of my embroidery career so income is pretty low but I sustain enough to pay a bill here and there or pay for a nice dinner. Every little bit helps and it’s nice to have that extra money there to depend on in case of an emergency. Plus, I find joy in creating personalized items for people and hearing their stories. Customers share photos with me of their children wearing my items and it just makes my heart so happy. I even get to know some of my customers through their stories of new babies or their child’s birthday party. Having young children myself helps me to relate to my customer and their needs.

EAW:
Where do you get the ideas for your embroidery designs?

KR:
Most of my embroidery designs are purchased from other designers on Etsy. I’m not a designer so I am thankful for those creative people in the world who make adorable designs and sell them for commercial use. Hopefully one day I’ll have a little more time on my hands to dive into that world and start creating my own designs. In the meantime, I try to watch my shop and determine what items are selling the most and let that lead me to my next design purchase. I have found that themed birthday and big sister designs are my hottest sellers so I always keep my eye out for those designs. Otherwise, I’m a sucker for anything girly and cute.

EAW:
I’ve noticed quite a few Arkansas Razorback designs, are you a big college football fan?

KR:
My family was born and raised in Arkansas and my husband is a HUGE Razorback fan. Football season is crazy around my house. If il_570xn-1031821176_equwwe have any plans on Saturdays during football season, we adjust according to game time. I love to do different Razorback designs for my kids to wear on Saturday to show their support and I hope that others will enjoy them just as much.

EAW:
Do you have any plans to expand in the future?

KR:
I’m always looking for ways to expand my business. Right now, I offer mostly white shirts for boys and girls but I have slowly but surely added in a few colored items here and there as well as backpacks, dresses, kitchen towels, and burp cloths. Also, I have added vinyl to my shop so I’m always looking for new colors to add and eventually I would like to incorporate other items besides clothing. Possibly coffee cups and jewelry dishes. You can really create unlimited gifts with an embroidery machine and a vinyl cutting machine. My plans for the future include purchasing a larger multi-needle machine that will reduce production time and allow me to complete more orders at a time. 

Be sure to check out Lainey Lou’s Embroidery online and visit their Facebook and Instagram pages, as well. Then, let us know what you think in the comments below or on social media!
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