Meet Sally Wilson, Founder of Cross Stitch Kit Brand: Caterpillar Cross Stitch

Founded in 2015, Caterpillar Cross Stitch’s mission is to help others find joy through cross stitch by creating a welcoming and inclusive community. They share beautifully designed cross stitch products and have a modern approach, always striving to make a positive impact in the world.

 

Caterpillar Cross Stitch

 

Tell us about the business, how did it start?

 
I founded Caterpillar Cross Stitch in November 2015 while on maternity leave from my former career as an employment solicitor. After 8 years in law, I craved a career where I could be in control, enjoy working flexibly on my own terms, be fulfilled creatively and in which the possibilities were limitless. I’d always been passionate about art and graphic design from a young age, later studying fashion design and photography in the evenings after work.

I saw a gap in the market for a modern cross stitch brand, creating unique contemporary designs, manufacturing kits of the highest quality and growing a community across social media with a focus on Facebook groups and YouTube channel, something competitors weren’t doing. I decided to complete an ecommerce course (My Wife Quit Her Job by Steve Chou) while my baby napped in the afternoons and within the year had the site up and running. We really listen to the community and place an enormous emphasis on great customer service. We now sell to over 30 countries, have our products stocked in retailers in the UK, Canada, Europe and New Zealand. One of the most exciting collaborations was working with the National Trust, somewhere I grew up ticking off properties we visited in the little guide books they used to give to members!

We host over 30 Stitching Social events annually for our large community of stitchers (there are now 4 hosts who all work remotely which means we can offer events and classes to anyone irrespective of their location). I design stitch-a-long projects 3 times each year where thousands of cross stitchers create the same piece at the same time, a really great way to stitch in a group, make friends and get tips and support (especially helpful for beginners!)

In 2021, I started the Caterpillar Club subscription box which has seen huge growth from 250 subscribers to almost 1,200 just a year later. We work with leading artists worldwide to collaborate on the themed boxes which are shipped every other month. I’ve just completed my first book “Jump Into Cross Stitch” available to pre-order now on Amazon (released in June 2022) which includes 6 starter designs to help complete beginners or children discover cross stitch too!

 

 

What challenges have you faced?

 
In terms of Caterpillar Cross Stitch, I’ve had to overcome many challenges – some practical and some mental. It takes courage to leave behind a valued profession and take a leap of faith but also to accept the financial risk which was all on me. There have been mistakes but I’ve kept a level head and I believe there is always a way through any situation if you take time out and think practically. It was difficult building an audience from scratch, dealing with competitors, copycats and supplier issues. Most days are simply problem solving! There were times I felt like giving up but I knew I had to keep pushing forward.

Growing a team has been challenging – finding the right people for the right roles, training and developing staff. Giving up control was hard and producing systems and processes so I could move into more of a visionary / CEO role rather than operations. Moving into our first offices in 2020 and meeting the increased demand during lockdown while home schooling was really difficult on a practical level; taking care of two small children while building furniture and processing huge boxes of stock! I’ve worked until 2am, lived off coffee and done the school run most days but I wouldn’t change a thing. It can be frustrating wanting to do it all while having many responsibilities to juggle but I try to prioritise, work efficiently and set realistic expectations. I am naturally impatient but I was only able to create www.loveitstitchit.com by retaining profits in the business and investing in that technology and development after a few years in ecommerce.

 

What can we hope to see from the business in the future?

 
On 6th May 2022, I am launching www.loveitstitchit.com a SaaS product, after working on this innovative idea for over 2 years! Love It Stitch It is a web hosted cross stitch design platform where visitors can easily use the beginner-friendly software to create their own cross stitch patterns, add text or images and convert photos, artwork or graphics into a pattern. It has all of the exciting features a cross stitcher could want but presented in a really clear, user friendly format accessible to anyone. We’ve been working with some incredible developers at Steadfast Collective, recommended to me by Holly Tucker (founder of Not On The High Street) when we got chatting at an event a few years ago.

We also developed a dedicated cross stitch marketplace where users can upload and sell the digital designs they’ve created or simply shop from thousands of carefully curated, great quality patterns from well-known established or brand new designers. After 6 years in the industry growing communities and listening to feedback, I noticed a gap in the market. There was a real demand from customers to create custom designs and for an accessible tool they could use to design and benefit from additional income from sales. We already have the audiences and marketing strategy, so we are best placed to bring this service to the stitching world!
Love It Stitch It operates using a subscription model and commission from sales, although we are very clear and do not charge listing fees or any extra hidden costs. All designs are quality checked before going live to ensure the marketplace will be full of the most amazing patterns. The marketplace will be focused only on cross stitch and won’t be over saturated so designers will have their creations discovered easily. We offer tutorial videos, support and help from the customer service team with additional features and benefits for subscribers.

Other than Love It Stitch It, later in 2022 we are also launching a cross stitch planner and Christmas advent calendar. Our goal is to work with John Lewis, Liberty, Anthropologie and grow our USA reach with collections in major craft retailers such as Joanns.