Featured Business of the Month
Please welcome our Featured Business owner Connie from Among Country Friends -- also the owner of Son Shine Seed Company, The Raggedy Gazette!
Q: What type of products do you offer?
A: I design patterns for country dolls, folk art quilts and primitive stitchery. I also sell them as finished items and kits.
Q: How did you decide on your company's name?
A. I actually have two different names the I use -- Among Country Friends -- When I was trying to think of a name several years ago I used "From The Sherlock Homes", the reason for this is that my sister-in-law and I did some crafts and since we are Sherlock's it seemed to fit. But when I started designing patterns I wanted my name to be something that "said everything" and I think it does -- because when we are all crafting and creating together we are "Among Country Friends".
My newest patterns are under the name "Son Shine Seed Company". These are my inspirational stitchery patterns and quilts. The glory goes to the Son for His blessings and my ability to create.
Q: How long have you been crafting and when did you decide to make this a business?
A: I decided to start designing patterns in 1991. I had a dear cousin who was a wonderful pattern designer and she kept telling me that I could do this. I resisted for a long time and finally gave in and "tried it". I had been crafting for a number of years before that -- doing craft shows and wholesale.
Q: Do you think that any special artistic or other talent is required to do what you do?
A: When you ask me the answer is no -- I always think if I can do it, anyone can. But when you ask my family and friends they w ill tell you that it is a talent. I don't believe that I was born with any special talent. I wanted to create, but I didn't have the ability and I taught myself and took classes to learn everything I could. I tell everyone "Primitive use to be my ability -- now it's my style".
Q: What has been your greatest success?
A: My greatest success is my marriage of 36 years; 2 wonderful children and 4 of the cutest grandkids. But I am assuming that you mean my crafting success -- I would have to say being asked to design a pattern for McCalls and Better Homes and Gardens Cross Stitch Sampler and being interviewed by Cloth Doll Magazine.
Q: What has been the worst experience for you in this industry?
A: I don't think I have had any bad experiences -- some frustrations along the way, mainly mistakes that I made that cost me extra time or money.
Q: Do you enjoy your work?
A. I really do love it. I gave up teaching when it was no longer fun and when this isn't fun anymore I will give it up and move on to something else.
Q: What is your biggest challenge in making this a viable business for you?
A: My biggest challenge is that I am not a business woman. I tell everyone "I'm creative -- don't ask for anything else."
Q: If you were given the opportunity to change it all, what would you do differently?
A: I would have taken classes in art and business in high school and college.
Q: Where do you locate your business from?
A: I have a wonderful old 2 story barn that we have converted to my studio -- I don't think it will ever get completely done, but since I am still planning and working on it I think that is part of the fun of the building.
Q: What mediums do you use to sell? Retail stores? Consignment craft stores? Craft shows? The internet?
A: My major sales are wholesale. I attend Quilt Market two times a year and shop owners come from all over the world to buy. I have "done it all" -- craft shows, consignment and "tripped little old ladies in the aisle begging them to buy my creations" -- okay, so I haven't tried that one yet.
My website is one of my favorite things to do and judging by the amount of traffic on it I would say it is successful. I find designing it to be very creative and challenging and the people seem to enjoy it. I also put out a very unique newsletter each month -- The Raggedy Gazette. It is full of free patterns, craft projects, recipes and a whole lot of fun.
Q: Any advice for any of our crafters?
A: The motto for my stitchery patterns is "If it looks like a 7 year old did it -- then you did it right!" Too many people are too afraid of failing or that their finished product isn't perfect and therefore not good enough. So my best advice is jump in and try it -- don't let anyone discourage you. You can do it.
If your desire is to turn crafting into a business, ask for advice from knowledgeable people -- I have found that most crafters are glad to help someone get started. I spend hours every month answering questions and trying to be helpful.
Thank you SO much Connie for interviewing with Country Mouse. I have found your interview to be so personal and touching. You are a great inspiration to all of us -- thank you.
Small Gallery of the work found at
Among Country Friends
Visit Connie at her web sites to see more of her inspiring work!