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“I love how a design we’ve imagined comes to life on a blank piece of fabric or wood It’s so satisfying to see the pattern reveal itself slowly,” says designer Diana Watters about the zen of cross stitching. “I also love that it is so so relaxing. You have to slow down, focus on the task at hand…”

A valued Hot Pop Factory customer and frequent collaborator over the past year and a half, this month we shine the spotlight on Toronto based Diana Watters Handmade. Drawing from her experience in interior (and metal) design, Diana began cross stitching several years ago and her new hobby quickly became a business. But when looking for interesting patterns to stitch, she found much of what was available unsatisfying. “There are some great makers out there coming up with interesting patterns, but for the most part there was a big hole in the market for fun, vibrant, modern patterns that really celebrated colour and a modern design aesthetic.” Watters teamed up with designer Em Sharp to fill this gap about a year and a half ago, and the duo began producing kits for other cross stitchers and selling them on Etsy. “We think about what what we love as interior designers, and try to interpret that into our patterns and content.”

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What is depicted in the patterns varies. There are smart geometric configurations of diamonds and triangles nested in squares, more representational depictions of flowers and natural forms, and cute animal kits at kids and beginners. Colour palettes range from soft pastels to bold primaries.

Beyond the keen aesthetics of their patterns, what sets Diana Watters Handmade’s kits apart from others is their custom frames—laser cut of course! “We wanted to broaden our offering from traditional fabric and hoop kits to include something new and different. We loved the idea of creating a laser cut wood disk kit that when finished, becomes a wall hanging!” After releasing a number of 4” and 6” frames, they’ve recently expanded into larger 16″ wood disk patterns—a scale that really amps up a kit’s ability to function as a wall-hangable piece of art when complete. Frame designs are produced in AutoCAD and then sent our way for production. “Hot Pop has been great to work with because you never back down from a challenge, in fact, you embrace it!”

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We asked Diana about how her business’ rapid growth and it seems online sales are just the tip of the iceberg. “We have a five pronged approach to building the business: we have the online shop, we do craft shows and markets, we wholesale to retailers, offer private sip’n’stitch workshops, and do larger commercial art installations.” Throw in the diligent sharing of process on social media to build an engaged customer base that is also a community and you have a recipe for success. “In order to make a creative business work, you have to be fluid and flexible. When one revenue stream is quiet, inevitably another one will carry you along till the other avenues pick up.”

Things are decidedly not quiet right now as Diana and Em are ratcheting up for the Holidays. “We’re starting to prototype decorations, and new cross stitch designs. From concept, to prototype, to full execution and launch to market, we like to allow at least 8–10 weeks to get it right.” So there’s another lesson there: always be thinking a season ahead!

Can we help you gear up for your Holiday production crunch? Get in touch for a free quote.

Images Courtesy of Diana Watters Handmade. Headshot and lead image by Worker Bee Supply Co.