By Carolyn Bahm
Owner Stacy Simmons said her shop specializes in custom embroidery, including monogramming, for individuals who love the customized look and businesses who want to showcase their brand pride. The store also offers a select line of clothing, accessories, caps, wide-brimmed summer hats, garment bags and more.
The previous owners operated Creative Stitches near the University of Memphis from 1989 until she bought the shop in 2016. She made the big move to 5800 Stage Road #1 in Bartlett in February 2017.
The business was getting lost in the shuffle among all the dorms and food places in Memphis, and the property owners were looking at retirement. They wanted to sell to a familiar person who would keep the existing staff. Simmons was working for them as an embroiderer, and the idea tempted her.
She considered the purchase from their first offer in 2008 until 2014 when she could no longer resist buying her first business.
With embroidery machines humming in the background near her office, Simmons explained, “Since I’m from Bartlett, I said, ‘This is a good time to look at Bartlett.’ That was always my goal to move out here anyway.”
She thinks of herself as an embroiderer first, and she continues to learn what it means to be a successful business owner too. One tip she has for other novice shop owners is to hire a business consultant for coaching, as she did over the past year.
She interviewed several before selecting one with a financial background who could advise here in that area too. He’s boosted her confidence and skills in her new role.
“I think that’s really kind of helped transform our business and grow it,” she said. “… It was really good to have that expert help to be there and bounce things off.”
His advice and her new location have paid off, she said. Her business has almost doubled since the move to Bartlett.
Her commercial-grade embroidery machines and specialized software allow her four employees to stitch initials, corporate logos and customers’ original designs on everything from clothes to the current hot-selling items of back-to-school lunchboxes, backpacks and even nap rolls for toddlers and kindergarteners.
Men love the cuff monograms for their dress shirts. Graduates smile about their personalized stoles. Garment bags and leather boots get the custom treatment. Gift and luxury items range from robes and valet trays to canvas totes, towels, blankets, wallets and key fobs.
Creative Stitches also offers vinyl lettering and decals, as well as screen printing.
Her company used to do more wholesale embroidery purchased by other companies’ marketers, but Simmons wanted to deal more directly with small businesses like hers. So she made that her goal when she moved the shop to Bartlett. The decision has been a big success and a growth factor for Creative Stitches.
Today, about half her business is about doing logos, and the rest relies upon the small retail store and the monogramming.
A lot of shops don’t allow people to bring in merchandise from other stores for custom embroidery, preferring instead to sell their own clothes for customization, Simmons said. But she welcomes the business if customers want to bring in their own items.
She also accepts work from people who ordered something embroidered online and didn’t like the results. They opt to have Creative Stitches remove the previous embroidery and re-sew the items to their satisfaction.
“As long as it (the previous work) hasn’t torn up the garment, we can fix it a lot of times,” Simmons said.
She appreciates the support and interest that Bartlett has shown for Creative Stitches.
“It has been fantastic for us to be here,” she said. “First of all, our location is great, because we’re right here on Stage. That train stops people, so they inevitably start looking around and then they see us because we’re right here on the road. So being on a major thoroughfare has helped us a ton.”
She also relishes being back home in Bartlett among friends, family and supportive fellow business owners. “The community is good, and people are really nice about telling everybody about us too.”
Our business feature stories appear in all four of the Journal West 10 newspapers in Shelby County. Check back weekly to learn about new and longtime businesses in Bartlett, Arlington, Lakeland and Bolton, as well as Millington, Collierville and Germantown. We also welcome your suggestions on who to feature next; email ideas to Millington Star Editor Thomas Sellers Jr. at firstname.lastname@example.org