SHOP TALK: In Stitches’ Jill Stalter offers custom embroidery out of her garage workshop
Jill Stalter is the owner, founder and sole employee of "In Stitches," a custom embroidery and printing company in Mount Pleasant. Stalter started the operation out of her house more than 20 years ago, and it has remained there ever since.
Stalter guided Central Michigan Life through her one-room embroidery workshop and talked about the logistics of her business, her dedication to her customers and her commitment to her company.
Pricing for products depends on if the design is custom and needs to be digitized before it can be embroidered. Stalter also has a book of pre-made logos and designs that customers can choose from.
In the case of a CMU student organization with their own logo, Stalter said there is a one-time setup fee that can run anywhere between $30 and $65, and after that t-shirts can cost between $8 to $10. Stalter said she tries to keep her prices low compared to online printing services and ensures better quality than her competition.
Business: In Stitches
Address: 620 North Fancher
Phone Number: (989) 775-8666
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Friday
To see examples of Stalter's work, visit the In Stitches Facebook page.
When did "In Stitches" get started, and what changes did the business go through to get to where it is now?
I’ve been doing it for about 23 years, but I eased into it, so I really didn't get going until 20 years ago. First, I started out down in the basement, hated it down there, then we remodeled and made the (workshop) room. I did daycare before and started to dislike it towards the end. When you're with six little kids all day long, it wears on you.
What are all the products you can make?
I always tell people I can make anything that can be hooped. That means putting it on a hoop so that it will be able to go through a machine. I do hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts, jackets, blankets, all that kind of stuff. I’ve even embroidered on umbrellas before, which is kind of crazy.
What are some of your favorite things to make?
I call them my "onesie-twosie" things. People will come in and say, “Can you make my grandma a sweatshirt?” or whatever kind of shirt that has this or that on it, then I can design it up.
Are there any past projects that stick out to you as particularly important?
I lost my brother a year and a half ago. He was a really important part of our family, and somebody had made a word collage all about him. All these words and phrases were all about my brother, one of them being, "best big brother ever." It was big, and I decided to put it up on my computer and embroider it out, and I'm making pillows for my family.
Who taught you how to embroider?
I’m self-taught. I did have to take classes when I first bought my machine. When I first got the machine and they set it all up I thought, ‘What in the world did I get myself into? I don’t even know how to thread this thing.’ I always was a crafty person, so I always knew this was something I’d really like to do.
Why do you like keeping the operation this small?
I have a lot of people ask me, “Why don’t you get out on Mission Street or go downtown or something?” I don’t want that because I like working out of my home. I like my own hours. I also believe in quality control. What goes out of my shop I know is my best work. If I had to hire people, I might not be able to see everything that goes out the door. I’ve always said to myself I want my customers to walk out of the door happy with smiles on their faces.
Have you ever had people call and ask if you were hiring? What do you usually tell them?
I have had quite a few people call me and ask me for a job. I usually tell them it’s a one group operation.
What would you say is the most gratifying thing about your job?
When my customers come in to pick up their product and I can see the smile on their faces as they say, “Oh my gosh that looks awesome!” I just had one guy who came in, and I wasn’t sure if he was going to like everything because we decided to switch up a color. He had too much red in his design. I said, let's switch that up and see if we can put a little bit of white in there. When he looked at it he said, “Oh my gosh you were right, this is perfect.”