September 26, 2017

A Little More About Me...

Hi! Welcome to week three of Needle Sharp and the third ever blog post!

Exciting, right?!

Right. Well, I couldn't be more excited for what I'm doing right now, which is launching this business! And as I do this, I'm coming to the realization that you, the world at large, don't know me from Adam (or Eve...what's the right biblical reference here if I'm a woman...I don't know...let's move on.)

So, let me tell you about what's been happening in the last few weeks as I've birthed the website/store into the world.

Actually, let's go a little farther back. To May 2017. (So long ago, amirite?). I had come to a point in my life where I knew that I was going to have to make some big decisions. Not to get too bogged down in the details, I was going to have to move apartments, and to do that, living in New York City as I did, involved a big financial commitment. My current apartment was rent-controlled. Any future apartment, not so much. And let me tell you right now, NYC apartments ain't cheap. And I knew that my current job could not support the rent I would most likely have to pay. 

New York City

So, there I was: time of crisis. To stay in New York, I would have to get another apartment. And to get another apartment, I would have to seriously rethink my job.

And I liked my job. I worked in retail, at a bookstore, and I had been with the company, slowing moving my way up, for eight years. It was good, steady-paying work (with health insurance), but I had to admit, it was never my life's passion. I love books and all, but retail is wicked tiring. Plus, I had always thought of the job as a weigh station of sorts until I figured out what my "career" would be, something you did in your twenties before really getting started on life.

I had played around with some side-hustles: writing, starting a tiny crochet amigurimi business, blogging television. But nothing really stuck. And in the back of my mind, I had always liked the idea of opening my own crafts store somewhere upstate. This idea seemed utterly foolish...and expensive...and perhaps doomed, but the idea lingered in the back of my mind.

And then I reached this crossroads. And I wasn't getting any younger (not that I'm old, but you know what I mean). It was time to make the leap. Now or never decision time.

So I leapt.

And I came up with an idea.

A few years earlier, I had learned how to sew. You can read about it here. And I fell deeply in love with everything sewing. My boyfriend can attest: I would spend hours on the internet, looking at blogs, at videos, at tutorials. I have to say, the online sewing community is such a cool place. And more often than not, I would be fantasy fabric shopping.

Looking up fabric online

I love looking at fabric on the internet! Weird, right? I know you're supposed to go to fabric stores and touch things. However, the combination of New York City not being super conducive to just popping by your local Joann's (the closest one is in 20 miles away in New Jersey) and my innate shyness making going to the Garment District an exercise in sheer anxiety (seriously, being a newbie there felt to me like being 5'2" at a supermodel party), I gravitated towards online shopping. And there were great sites that offered swatches and good descriptions, so I was happy to browse and stash-build and build my own fantasy wardrobe.

While I was doing this online browsing, I also realized that I was pretty lucky to be able to do this. I don't have children; I don't have pets; I'm very much a homebody, so I had time to spend hours on the internet looking for the right black twill for the pants I wanted to make. But I also realized that not everybody has that time. And not everybody is comfortable as I was shopping for fabric on the internet.

What did people who wanted to sew but weren't as lucky as I was do? Not sew? That seemed like an unacceptable option to me. So I set out to help fix it.

Enter Needle Sharp and the subscription boxes.

I had been using Blue Apron for a while at this point. I think the benefits of a meal subscription service for people who aren't great cooks are pretty self-explanatory. It's a great way to learn without killing yourself with preparation. That being said, I knew how to cook. In fact, I really like going to the grocery store to shop for a nice meal, but the time-saving element, especially in New York City, and the fact that everything was put together for me, was incredibly appealing. So why not do that for sewing? Make a box for people just learning to sew. And get everything gathered together into one package for people who knew how to sew but who don't have time or want to treat themselves. And then send out these boxes, with handpicked fabrics so you can be certain of the quality, so that you can just get down to the fun part of sewing: the actual sewing!

Needle Sharp Subscription Box

I spent the next three months putting together this business and preparing the subscription boxes. I've planned themes for the next year and set out fabrics for the next three months. And I've also set up a soon-to-be-beefed-up fabric by the yard collection. Here's another way I'm trying to make things a little easier. I've organized the fabric by the yard so that you can filter the way that you would choose fabrics: by the old standbys like content, color, and weight, but also by drape and by woven versus knit. I cannot tell you how many times I've search for stretch cotton on some other sites and had to wade through pages and pages of jerseys before finding a woven.

And here it is: the site is open and we are ready to help you with your sewing! We don't actually make the clothes for you, but darned if we're not going to try to make everything else as stream-lined as possible.

As for my apartment, if having a steady-paying job wasn't good for finding an NYC apartment, having a start-up is even worse). About a week ago, I left New York with some very good memories and stories to tell, and I moved back upstate to where I grew up. So the dream of opening a craft store upstate is still alive and kicking.

I hope you like my dream as much I as do.




  • I just found your subscription box. It is so perfect for me. I abhor going to stores and shopping and talking to sales people. I love to sew. I want to make some garments for myself but become paralyzed when it comes to choosing fabrics and notions that all work together. I’m so excited as I wait for my 1st box. What a genius idea. Thank you.

    nancy pollard on

  • I just found your subscription box. It is so perfect for me. I abhor going to stores and shopping and talking to sales people. I love to sew. I want to make some garments for myself but become paralyzed when it comes to choosing fabrics and notions that all work together. I’m so excited as I wait for my 1st box. What a genius idea. Thank you.

    nancy pollard on

  • Hi Mary, Your dream is great! I ordered my first box. Like I emailed you earlier your business is just what i was looking for and your in the US. The other site I had ordered from was from the UK. I wish you all the best, and God willing I will probably be one of your greatest fans. Keep up the good work, you are doing a wonderful job.

    Dolores on

  • I love your business model Mary! This is a great idea and I wish you lots of success! I found your website through the feature on Pattern Review.

    Margaret on

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