Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Business/Design philosophy I

Our 30th anniversary has caused some thinking on my part about the elements of a needlepoint business.  I have been the owner of Needle Nicely for 15 years and was the manager for 20 years before that (the first five exclusively in Blowing Rock, NC, before we opened the 2nd shop in Vero in 1981).

Needlepoint shops all have their areas of expertise, whether it be rugs or Christmas stockings or witty repartee or finishing or whatever.  When I think about what I want Needle Nicely to be remembered for--the first thing I think of is color selection.  Trubey, who started Needle Nicely, is a superb artist and has a fantastic memory for design and a marvelous eye for color.  I am grateful to have been trained by her, though my memory for design is suspect.  Still, today a canvas kitted by Needle Nicely is, I think (not so humbly), to be the best in terms of trueness of color to the original design.

Colors change by whatever colors are adjacent to them.  Sometimes, they're a star; sometimes they're part of the supporting cast; and sometimes they want to grab the spotlight.  Squint your eyes and it's obvious what is what.  Years ago in Blowing Rock, we had a male customer who insisted on having a canvas kitted with a particularly strong shade of yellow.  Trubey refused, offering another, milder shade.  The customer insisted.  Trubey refused again and stated that she would sell him all the colors she had previously selected, but he would leave with no yellow.  The man inquired why and she responded that she did not want him to say that Needle Nicely had given him "that" yellow.  It would have been the only color anyone would have seen when they looked at the finished canvas.  He left with no yellow.

I am a technician, not an artist.  I make color decisions for customers, but not obviously.  When kitting a canvas, I select two or three shades of green or blue or brown.  Then I ask the customer to select which she prefers.  She is the one who lives in her house and knows her living room or den or bedroom--whichever room where this canvas will eventually reside.  She will be the ultimate arbitor, not me.  My job is to assist her, not dictate to her.  And my regular customers know that I will not tell them which I prefer. All will look good, any will be pleasing.  Which one do YOU prefer (not me).  None of the colors I have selected will be "off", but one will be more perfect because the customer prefers it.  Many people never realize how they have been guided in their selection.  They only think that I haven't told them what to pick and berate me for it.  But the finished product will please them.

 And I thank Trubey for educating my color "eye".


  1. Love the philosophy and love the colors that you select, when I can't be there in person. One of the things that I love about needlepoint is the creativity that comes with building a project. It's a combination of colors, shades, stitches and finishing that bring that creativity to life- and it is such a fun process! It is so personal in preference, designs and finishing, that each finished project says something about the person that stitched it! Thanks for offering all the colors- and the subtle advice that comes with the 'Needle Nicely' philosophy!

  2. Colors play off of one another, and often can strike a jarring note if the shade isn't quite right. It's nice to know there are shops that still offer the personal touch!