Just before his wedding, my son sent his brother to tell me to "hurry to the groom's room" because Michael wanted to talk to me. I admit, my heart was in my throat. When I got there, he had this for me.
Michael and Kristin had it made locally, but I want you to get to know some people who can make similar incredibly precious items for you, no matter where you live. Let's meet Mary from Catholic Embroidery.
Tell us about your background. What path led you to the work you do today?
We started our business in 2007, after an introduction to the world of machine embroidery through a sewing shop in our local town where my sister worked as saleswoman and technician. The idea of spearheading such an endeavor was offered to me by my father and I believe that deep down at the heart of the idea was his desire to provide for his young adult daughters, searching for their niches in life with interests in the world of art and sewing. It was a leap of faith, for my skills were few and knowledge of the embroidery world quite basic. The business slowly took off and we found ourselves successfully growing in a world of company logos, bridal projects, and monograms. As a Catholic homeschooling family with a large Catholic network of friends, requests for religious items and designs became greater than what we could provide. Thus, while still retaining our work for businesses and monogram-lovers in our local community, we began to build a Catholic business to provide for the request of religious embroidery across the world. Before we knew it - Catholic Embroidery was born!
How do you come up with new designs and ideas?
It didn't take long to realize that the world of Catholic embroidery was almost non-existent to the average embroidery artist. True, beautiful, religious embroidered designs that reflected Holy Mother Church and ageless devotions could be found in abundance on antique vestments and in little cloisters. But to the modern world, so full of creativity and with every ounce of technology at our finger-tips, such designs were scarce. After much prayer and discernment, we began creating and copyrighting exclusive designs with the help of contract artists that also shared in the desire to reproduce the beauty of our Faith through the medium of embroidery. Most of our designs are inspired from personal devotion of our family or other fellow Catholics and customers, others are inspired from antique pieces of European convents and traditions, and nearly all are created in the spirit of various styles of art throughout the ages.
Is your business a family endeavor? How do combine your work and your family life?
Our business is definitely a family endeavor! As our business has grown - so has the workload! I am very happy to have the assistance of my two sisters as seamstresses, both of whom assemble our altar linens, book covers, and rosary cases from scratch. With Dad as "Boss", Mom as "Crisis Department" (because let's face it! every business has those crisis moments, right?) and five other siblings in the family, we are never lacking in hands for trade-show help, hearts for guidence and suggestions, eyes for late-night paperwork, feet for running business-errands along with the family food-shop, and prayers for the ultimate in spiritual support. Product Pricing Movie Nights are not an uncommon event in our house!
Is this contemplative work for you?
The location of our business' workshop in the basement of our home is not the only contributer toward a quiet contemplative work-style. Most often, the projects at hand dictate the spirit of the day. When working on linens that will hold the hands of a priest on his ordination, we are united to the priesthood and the mothers of priests who will one day hold the same linen on their hands when they depart this life and are presented before God. When a baptismal request is put to action, the life of new little soul is at the forefront of our minds. In creating new products and anticipating others' devotions and hunger for beauty, we travel through the lives of the saints and the history of the Church through art. The list goes on!
How does your work minister to others?
It is no secret that the human soul longs for beautiful things and reacts to them in an uplifting gesture toward heaven. It is our desire to provide beautiful embroidery designs and useful products that bring the splendor and devotion of Holy Mother Church to individuals, homes and schools around the world, thereby undergirding society and the home with visual reminders of our Faith and the path toward Christ. By applying such designs to useful products, we hope to make those visuals a part of everyday life - whether carried in a pocket, laid on a couch, worn in the kitchen, and toted about town. These items become little missives that ultimately share the beauty of the Church with the world. Positive feedback toward this end from happy customers has only invigorated our ministry further! The crowning moment that justified this cause came only weeks ago, when I received an order for a rosary case from a 7 year old girl. Her mother told me that when she saw her parents open a package containing rosary cases ordered from our company, she ran to her piggy-bank, emptied it's contents in her mother's lap, and demanded to know if it was enough money to buy her own.
Can you suggest ideas for Mother's Day? How about graduation gifts?
Yes! Our Mother's Crown Handkerchief would be the perfect thing for Mother's Day! This handkerchief showcases Cardinal Mindzenty's famous quote, "The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world." Our new Embroidered Doilies are treasures for the mom who wants to add a touch of Catholicity to her home decor or home altar. Graduations are most-often celebrated in our shop with our Maid of France Handkerchief, directing the future with St. Joan of Arc's words, "I am not afraid; I was born to do this." And what graduate wouldn't like to be sent off to college with a new Pillowcase or Rosary Case of heavenly protection and inspiration?
Do you do custom embroidery?
Customization is our specialty. Thanks to the nature of our small business status, we are able to create custom projects for customers and make their dreams and ideas realities. Our digitization services (converting an image to stitches) allows us to turn our customers' images and logos into embroidery patterns, ready for application on their items or products we find from our suppliers to suit their needs. As I type, our shop is filled with a variety of custom projects in the works, including a First Communion dress, baptismal gown, scapulars for a religious order, and church items, not to mention the custom requests we regularly fill for "tweaks" of our own product line. To avoid the overwhelming aspect of "all those flavors to choose from!" I often tell customers that we can be as "customized" as they desire!
What's the product you are most excited about in your shop right now?
Right now, I am super excited to share our Mother's Crown Handkerchief. Many of our products involve mothers - some are inspired by my own mother, others were encouraged by friends and customers who are mothers, and nearly all are loved and used daily by mothers and their families. I wanted to create a tribute to that love and devotion comprised in "rocking the cradle" and its impact in ruling the heart of the world and society. With many thanks, of course, to the Blessed Mother who never ceases rocking the cradle of the world.
A set of 2 Mother's Crown Handkerchiefs are offered for the Giveaway. Visit the blog, website, and Facebook page for Catholic Embroidery:
Tells us what you find that strikes your fancy. If you leave a comment below, you will be entered once for giveaway. If you mosey over and "like" the Facebook page for the first time, leave a message there, too, and you will be entered twice. Come back here next week for the announcement of the winner.