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Carol Gantz Receives TNNA's 2009 TEN Award

The association's highest honor.

Staff Report (June 15, 2009)

Each year The National NeedleArts Association presents the Tribute to Excellence in Needlework or "TEN" Award to an individual who has had a lasting impact on the world of needlearts by upholding the highest standards in needlework creativity, education, product development, and industry promotion.

At the recent TNNA show in Columbus, President Dave Stott presented the award to Carol Gantz, a needlepoint designer and product development partner in Associated Talents, Westlake, OH..

Gantz came to the industry through retail: She worked on Saturdays in a needlepoint store during her college days at Oakland University in Rochester, MI. After graduating from Oakland with a bachelor's degree in art history, she started designing needlepoint while attending graduate school at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She moved eight times with her husband Bill's career, and found that the needlearts industry provided the flexibility she needed to raise a family under such circumstances.

In 1980, Gantz opened a retail store in Fort Wayne, IN, selling needlepoint, knitting, counted cross-stitch, and custom designing. She sold the store in 1984 because her family was relocating to Portland, OR. Her retail store manager, Sandy Steere, had become her business partner in their new company, Associated Talents. A.T. was founded in 1982 as a needlepoint design company, and that's when Gantz began her involvement with TNNA.

Although she and Steere were several states apart, Gantz continued to be the primary designer for A.T. She eventually relocated to Charlotte, NC, where she met Don Lynch. He started designing for the company and then became a partner. In 1998, A.T. acquired Heritage Home Graphics, which expanded the design possibilities for the company.

Two more moves later, Gantz was recruited to serve as Chair of the Needlepoint Group of TNNA in 1999. She was elected to the Board of Directors, and then to the role of president from 2002-2004.

During her term, Gantz assisted in TNNA's unification with the International Needleart Retailers Guild to bring the needlearts under one umbrella and increase the size and effectiveness of the association. She also worked on the launch of TNNA's Stitch To WIN against Breast Cancer program, as well as the Jubilee 30-year celebration of TNNA.

Gantz rejoined the TNNA board of Directors to fill out another member's term for one year from 2006-07. She is currently on the Board of Directors of the association's Needle Arts Mentoring Program (NAMP) and the satellite show task force of TNNA. She teaches at TNNA trade shows, where she also facilitates the New Buyer Orientation Program, and continues to offer a variety of classes at retail stores.

In 2005, Gantz assisted her daughter, Beth Gantz, in acquiring an existing retail business. Today, Stitches, Etc. in Bay Village, OH, is a thriving needlepoint, counted cross-stitch, and custom framing facility. Mother and daughter co-chaired the first Stitch N' Pitch event for the Cleveland Indians. Beth Gantz started designing her own needlepoint line of entry-level products and solution-based ideas in 2007, and is now working on both sides of the industry.

Carol Gantz has mentored many new start-up businesses over her career, but her creative energy is still dedicated to being part of the team at Associated Talents. She works on Saturdays coming full circle from her start in the industry at Stitches, Etc., which keeps her in touch with the consumer's needs and the changing trends in the needlearts community.

Carol and Bill have two children and three granddaughters who live in Charlotte. Her family history includes several members who worked in the art/design field as well as for causes and community service.

"We are absolutely thrilled to give Carol this honor," notes Stott. "She has done so much for this industry and association over the years, and continues to do so today."



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