I am very pleased to publish and introduce to you this Featured Crafter article on the very well deserved winner of our recent ‘A Touch of Royalty’ mini challenge. Let me introduce to you Carolyn from Cross Stitch Creations.
Hello! My name is Carolyn Malkiewicz and my business is called Cross-Stitch Creations. I do what it says on the tin! My main passion is making cushions, wall/door hangings and greeting cards and my aim is also to offer a bespoke service so I can take orders from customers wishing to create a unique gift for such events as weddings, new baby and christenings etc as these can be personalised to include names, dates of birth/wedding.
As a background, I am originally from Welham Green in Hertfordshire but spent 17 years living and working in Inverness in Scotland as a Legal Secretary. Living so far away from family and friends has its drawbacks so in July 2011 I moved back to Hertfordshire with my husband to be closer to them. I have now settled in Stevenage which is where I run my business from.
Since leaving Inverness, I had to give up my job and have struggled to find another. Within the last three months, I have resumed my passion for cross-stitching and decided to try to make a small business out of it. I have only had a Facebook Business Page for a month but have already got a good number of ‘likes’ although I have yet to make my first sale. As I am still officially ‘signing on’ at the moment with the Job Centre, they have referred me to a local Enterprise Company who have helped me prepare a Business Plan, spreadsheets etc and I have attended workshops on how to set up in business. I am presently waiting for my Business Plan to be ‘signed off’ and I can then officially ‘sign off’ from the Job Centre and I’ll be good to go! So, as yet, I have not exhibited at any craft fairs.
I originally started cross-stitching when I moved to Scotland in 1995 as a number of my work colleagues did it in the tea breaks so I decided if you can’t beat them, join them! I have been cross-stitching ever since although I have had various breaks from it along the way. I have created a number of cards and pictures in the past as presents for friends and family and these still adorn my family’s walls! In 1999 I got married and, rather rashly, decided to cross-stitch all my wedding invitations – a definite labour of love! Each invitation took at least 2 hours to produce and I had to do over 60 of them!!
Apart from my wedding invitations and the time pressure challenges I put myself under, my most challenging piece of work to date is actually the cushion with which I won the competition and there is actually a bit of a story behind that!
To make my cushion really unique, I wanted to design one to commemorate both the Jubilee and the Olympics on one cushion. I had wanted to include the ‘Olympic Rings’ logo on my cushion but was aware there may be some problems with this because of it being a protected logo. So, to keep things legal, I contacted the International Olympics Committee for permission to use the Olympic Rings. I had got to the stage of my cushion where I had to get on and ‘do’ the Olympic bit but I had not heard from the IOC by then. To be safe, I just used the words ‘London Olympics 2012’ on it and included gold, silver and bronze metals instead of the Olympic Rings. I completed the cushion and, I have to say, was very pleased with the results, especially after nearly 12,000 stitches and 65 hours of sewing – I counted every last one of them!
I then finally received an e-mail from the IOC. Not good news!! Not only would they not give me permission to use the Olympic Rings logo (glad I never used it then!) but they said that even the words ‘London’ and ‘Olympic’ were protected by law. Although they never actually came out and said it as such, they went on to state there were two Acts of Parliament under which I could be prosecuted for using these words, so, basically, if I wanted to sell my cushion, I couldn’t using those words. So….. after much deliberation, I decided to alter my cushion so it solely commemorated the Jubilee, which meant taking the whole thing apart, painstakingly unpicking all reference to the Olympics and coming up with additional wording for the Jubilee – an additional 12 hours of work to unpick, re-do and re-stitch!!!!! I am glad I decided to alter it though because I am even more pleased with it now than I was originally.
I particularly like creating ‘wordy’ cushions and door hangings and am always on the lookout for some good words or slogans to use. I am trying to come up with a range of cushions that appeal to teenagers too (or that can be bought for them by their long-suffering parents!) which is how I have come up with my ‘Whatever’ and ‘OMG’ cushions – frequent teenager speak! I have a few other ideas and constantly carry around a notebook and pen for when I see/hear something I can use.
I also like creating door/wall hangings with childrens’ names on or slogans that are a little catchy, hence my ‘Ssshh, baby sleeping’ and ‘Caution! baby teething’ door hangings. I have a few more ideas in this theme and think they would sell quite well at craft fairs.
I came up with the idea of my ‘Keep Calm’ range of cards after receiving a wedding invitation in this theme. I have now created some greetings cards and these are easily adaptable to suit the customer’s own wording.
I find I am very easily motivated to sew, in fact I am so sad that even when I went on holiday recently to Norfolk, I took some cross-stitching with me, albeit just to do a couple of greetings cards. I was a little peeved to say the least that I never got the chance to finish them before I came home! As my husband will no doubt verify, the housework has long since taken a back seat since I started cross-stitching again because I can’t wait to get up and get going each day! I do use a sewing machine for the purposes of sewing up cushions and wall hangings although I have a relatively basic one at the moment and couldn’t be without it, but ideally I would like to upgrade to something a bit more substantial.
I don’t think I’ll ever be the next Alan Sugar (or should that be Alana Sugar!!) but I would just like to make a reasonable living with my ‘creations’. I have a real passion for what I do and love the thought that one of my cushions or wall hangings is being loved and treasured in another person’s home. My advice to anybody starting out? The same advice as I have been given – stick with it, stick with it and, oh, stick with it! Keep networking and hopefully the sales will come.
My full details are Carolyn Joy Malkiewicz, 86 Priestley Road, Stevenage, Herts, SG2 0BP, mobile number 07513 022646, e-mail@ firstname.lastname@example.org
Facebook: Cross Stitch Creations
Thank you Carolyn for this great insight into your work and good luck with your business. Please visit Carolyn’s Facebook page and comment you saw her on this Blog.
Our next Mini Challenge will be week commencing the 11th June, with the challenge theme published on Tuesday 12th June and all entries must be in by midnight Wednesday 13th June. I hope you can join us, either by sending an entry in or by voting when the entries are published.
Do you want a little hint what next weeks theme will be?
“If music be the food of love, play on!” (William Shakespeare)