Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Embroidered Soul Story

The question I get most frequently from customers is, "Why Embroidered Soul?" Still others say, "I get it!" or "With a name like that, I have to see what you sell."

Why, indeed, Embroidered Soul? The name bears no reflection whatsoever on what we carry, but it does reflect my personal state of mind when we first opened the site. I needed to establish a new career path, a way to spend my time productively after some events in my life changed the path I was on. I wanted to call upon my past experiences, loves, and inspirations to create a "job" for myself in new surroundings. With the help of my husband, we established our website to provide an outlet for connecting with customers. Calling upon past experiences and knowledge to carve out a niche for myself, I came to feel that not only my life, but "every life is an embroidered soul", and that became our initial USP.

During this same period, I began dyeing, painting, marbling and embellishing fabrics for fiber artists and quilters, and I was also sewing my own clothes with some of the silks and rayons I dyed. I constructed my logo from snippets of hand-dyed raw silk and nicknamed it "the soulburst". The website began as a way to connect with customers who might be interested in my work.

Coincidentally, we wanted to launch a line of Greek ceramic beads and pendants we discovered while on a trip in Europe in 1999. Somewhere along the way, fabric dyeing fell by the wayside. Meanwhile, I had picked up the exclusive distributorship in the US of Irene's fabulous ceramic beads, and we were quickly becoming long-distance friends. In 2006, Irene visited the US for the first time, accompanying me on my first big show at To Bead True Blue in Tucson.

While we first focused only on the Greek line, we expanded bit by bit, adding beads that we liked and that we thought would complement Irene's beads. Eventually we started adding natural beads from the Philippines, thinking that by purchasing them we were helping an essentially poor nation gather some economic benefit from its natural resources.

Soon the name, buoyed by print advertising, became so (relatively) recognizable that we decided to keep it, thinking that even though it doesn't immediately identify our products, it does reflect our mindset, our interest in the human experience, and our love for art and everything that influences what causes people to make art.

Before long, we had artists contacting us about their own work. As money permitted, we started investing in art ceramic beads and now carry the work of American artist Sharleen Newland and Bulgarian artists Vladislav and Kremina Ivanov. I took up ceramic pendant-making a year or so ago and now offer my own work as well. Our new USP came to be "Uncommon beads for the uncommon soul", and we continue to focus our energies on acquiring the hard-to-find and unsual for our customers.

Little by little, mass-produced beads are falling by the wayside as we attempt to focus on beads that come from artists, all of whom we consider to be "Embroidered Souls."


Jessica said...

What a great story. Thank you Helen, for sharing!

mary said...

Loved your story Helen , you gave me lots of visuals when i was reading!!
thanks for sharing it!

Mellisa - Chinook Jewelry said...

I love to hear how people get going in a certain direction! Such an interesting story behind your venture!

Helen said...

Thank you Jessica, Mary and Mellisa. I've been wanting to tell people the origin of my site'sname for years but never really had the venue. I appreciate you taking the time to read it. Have a terrific day!