It’s been two days now but I’m still on my stitcher’s high from my telephone conversation with Colleen Leader of Follow the Leader Designs. After playing email tag for a few days, I finally got to actually talk with Colleen who was generous, supportive, and patient to the extreme. She gave me advice and answered my questions for a staggering two-and-a-half hours and even tried to convince me that I was doing her the favor.
I’m really starting to believe I can have my own needlework design company.
Colleen believes that inspiring new stitchers and nurturing new designers is a matter of self-preservation for the entire cross stitch industry. As needleworkers age (and knitters seem to be getting younger and younger), we should all embrace this far-reaching philosophy if we want to keep cross stitch alive.
In case you’re interested, here’s the essence of Colleen’s advice to me:
1. File a dba (“doing business as”) form, otherwise known as a “fictitious name” form, with the county to register my company’s name as soon as possible (once it’s filed, I’ll let you know what it is!). This is the first piece of essential paperwork to start the financial ball rolling.
2. Join the Yahoo groups devoted to the business side of cross stitch: DesignersBiz and DesignersandStitchers
3. Join professional organizations like TNNA (The National NeedleArts Association)
4. Work on getting published in cross stitch magazines like The Gift of Stitching or (fingers crossed!) the Just Cross Stitch Christmas ornament issue
5. Contact fabric and floss companies to get on their mailing lists and/or join their designer programs
6. Keep good financial records and receipts, but don’t worry about finding a tax advisor until you’re a little further along in the process. And, when you do consult a tax professional, be assertive about how much things like a fat quarter of 28-count Belfast linen and an itsy-bitsy skein of silk floss costs.
7. Don’t be shy! Talk to other designers who’ve been in the business for a long time and ask them for advice. Here’s hoping they’re all as friendly as Colleen!
Of course, the best suggestion Colleen gave me was to have faith in myself and my designs. Stay tuned, dear readers!
Update 01/20/10: For an update on the latest with Colleen Leader, see this post.