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How To Make Needlepoint More Popular...
... And therefore more profitable.
by Janet Perry, Napa Needlepoint (July 4, 2005)
From the things I'm seeing and hearing, I think needlepoint is
getting ready for a revival. I hope it will be a big one. But at the
same time, I'm frustrated by the attitudes I often see from people
in the industry.
The future of needlepoint, or of any craft for that matter, lays
in attracting new and younger people to the craft. As long as
needlepoint continues to have the perception of being a "old
lady's" or "rich lady's" craft, this won't happen.
So I'd like to offer up ten ideas about needlepoint which should
spark thinking about getting out there and helping people stitch.
1. Needlepoint isn't expensive. To start you need some
canvas, a needle, and a bit of thread. Retailers, why not make a
beginner's pack with needle, a small piece of canvas, and one skein
of floss or pearl cotton? Sell it for $4. That's less than a
lipstick at the drugstore and can be an impulse purchase.
Designers, why not do a beginner's design and sell it very
cheaply? If your wholesale price is under $5, then the consumer will
also look at it as an impulse buy. I know the amount of labor that
goes into hand-painted canvas, but it seems to me that the cheap
canvases are now $30-$35 where they were $25 a year or so ago.
For too many people the cost of entry into needlepoint is high.
We should be making an effort to make this lower to hook new
2. Needlepoint isn't "paint by numbers." I find
needlepointers to be very open to changing and creating things. And
our models should show this. Retailers, why not stitch half a canvas
to show how you go from the painting to the stitching? Designers,
why not include ideas with shipments or canvases for shops to give
out to spark creativity?
3. Needlepoint isn't hard. The easiest needlepoint stitch can
be taught in a few minutes to kids as young as 5 or 6. Why not give
free mini-lessons to target markets?
4. Needlepoint isn't only for old ladies. I think this
problem is more one of shopowners' perceptions and markets than of
the truth. We need, as individuals and as an industry, to focus on
the market we want. What is this market? The ever-elusive woman with
a family and discretionary income. Look at where to find them, and
think about how to attract them.
Needlepoint has many features which make it an ideal craft for
these women. It's portable, can be done in small bits of time, and
creates something of lasting value. Being a soccer mom as well as
having been a traveling executive, I have found needlepoint suits
both those lifestyles well. I could work it on planes and in hotel
rooms, and I can work it in the car while I wait during piano
lessons. So find these places, stock items which will appeal to this
market, and display them attractively.
5. Tactile is good. And needlepoint is a very tactile art.
People are attracted to needlepoint for many of the same sensory
reasons they are attracted to knitting. So, as a retailer, do your
displays capitalize on this? Is it a sensory treat to come to your
shop? As vendors, do you show off your models in ways which attract
notice and which give the shops ideas? Is it a delight to your
customers' senses? Then it will be a delight to their customers'
senses as well.
6. Be "in your face." Knitters have gotten lots of
publicity because they knit everywhere. Have you looked for the same
opportunity to needlepoint? Find a place and stitch. Do you carry
your needlepoint with you? Do you have needlepointed accessories,
purses, or belts? Embellishment is hot – why not make it
needlepoint? Are your clerks friendly, helpful – and
That can be a two-edge sword. Too many people talking among
themselves looks exclusive, but one person there to stitch and help
with the overflow is friendly and will increase your sales. You
probably have customers who would love to be asked to stitch models
for you and even to do it in the shop. Take advantage of it.
Get a couple of friends and stitch in the local hang-out. Talk to
the coffee shop owner about coming regularly. Offer him some
finished items for the shop if he'll put up a sign.
7. Be trendy. I'll never forget the day I was at a knitting
shop getting samples of yarn from them to use as needlepoint yarns.
One of the owners dismissed my request by saying that his mother
needlepointed. I murmured something and got out my current project
to work on while I waited for the samples. His partner came in and
was astonished at the threads, textures, and colors of what was a
simple piece to me. My needlepoint was far more trendy than what
their most trendy fiber artists were doing.
See the trends, capitalize on them. If a consignment store can
have a page of Lucky next to a display of colored shoes, why
can't you use a fashion magazine to promote needlepoint items?
What's the hot color? Display a page of a fashion magazine with
clothes this color next to a display of all your threads this color.
Put the page with the quilted clothing next to needlepoint of quilt
8. Promote yourself and needlepoint. Unlike knitting,
needlepoint is an industry of small companies, with few people in
each business. And there is no overall place for promotion. That
means we each have to do it ourselves. Turning people's perception
and making needlepoint more visible can happen. Look to books like The
Tipping Point or others about the connectedness of our world to
see how to do it, and then adopt these ideas into your business.
If needlepoint is far out on the radar screen, do what you can to
make it come closer. Your businesses will be more successful for it.
(Note: Janet is president of Napa Needlepoint. Call her at
707-257-6957 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her website is www.napaneedlepoint.com.
To comment, email CLN at email@example.com.
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