Elizabeth Talledo is the creative talent behind Dames of the Needle. Here is a little more about her!
The following is from stitchersvillage.com
When did you start stitching?
I started stitching when I was 5 years old.
Was there anyone who encouraged you?
My Grandmother. She taught me how to make doll clothing and to stitch.
Do you have an artistic background?
Yes, I have a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts)
When did you start designing?
Formally in 1996.
Is there a story behind your company name?
Finger Work came from a lecture I went to. This term was used to describe all types of hand work--i.e. weaving baskets, sewing, embroidery. I thought that this would cover all I wanted to do with my company. Dames of the Needle came from when I had a partner. We used Dames of the Needle as a distributor of our charts. I have both companies now and sign off as Dames of the Needle/Finger Work.
Was there something in particular that inspired you to start designing?
I come from a family that makes things and changes things. I use to change all the charts and kits that I stitched. After a while I realized that I could just design my own.
What motivates you to continue designing?
I just have it in me. I have designs coming to me all the time. Sometimes I dream about them. Other times a topic or idea strikes my fancy and I do research and a design happens.
Do you have a particular genre?
I love samplers and for my pieces to have an "old world" feel. I love to tell stories with my designs.
Do you stitch your own models?
Yes, once in a while I get someone to help. But I design and change as I go, so it is hard to get someone to stitch for me.
Do you have a "day job" that doesn't involve designing?
No-my "day job" is this business. I design for the retail market and I also teach Nationally for guilds and shops. I can hardly keep up with myself. In my spare time I am mum to Isabelle (Isa) and Miguel. They keep me busy along with two corgi dogs, 2 rabbits and a guinea pig.
Is there something you'd like stitchers to experience when they stitch your designs?
I like it give my students and people who purchase my designs the inspiration to change and to create. I want them to enjoy stitching my pieces and to use them to decorate their environments or to use the items for stitching. I want them to smile when they look at what they have created.
What is the best piece of stitching advice you have received?
That the Design Police do not exist and you can change colors, stitches or anything else you want to make the piece you are working on enjoy- able. Also, you do not have to finish every project that you start.
Are there items in your stitching basket that you couldn't live without?
My antique laying tool, scissors, scissors scissors-I have a different pair for almost everything that I use them for. My funky measuring tapes and pin cushions.
Besides needlework, do you have any other hobbies?
I paint, read and walk/run.
Do you have a favorite author?
I just love to read. I love murder mysteries and drama/comedy books that show real life. But the truth be known-I will read anything -- I love to read that much.
If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
Georgia O'Keeffe I studied her at University when I was in Art School. I fell in love with her work. I loved the way she could take a simple ob- ject as a flower and make it into a sensual almost erotic image and not make it obscene. Her sense of color is amazing. She had a full and in- teresting life and I would love to grow up and be her.
The following is from an interview with Hoffman Distributing
Would you give us a little background on your personal history with needlework?
I started stitching when I was about 5 years old. My grandmother started me with tea towels, handkerchiefs and doll clothed. From there, I started exploring and I have stitched all my life since then. I found out about guilds in 1990 and things got interesting from that point.
How did you begin designing needlework patterns and projects?
I would pick up a project and change it. People started telling me I should design my own things. I would laugh and say, no I have a formula, you buy a project and change it. Then Edna Medlin of Threads of Gold met with me and convinced me I should start designing. She agreed to carry my product at market and it grew from there. I had Finger Work at that point. In 2001 I combined my company with Lori Vermillion of Just One More and we formed Dames of the Needle. Lori stopped designing in 2003 and I kept Dames of the Needle and Finger Work. We were both known more by Dames of the Needle and that name stuck. I use both names and sometimes that gets confusing. It is funny when people tell me that they did not realize that I was both companies.
What are some of your favorite themes or styles when designing?
I love designing samplers with an old feel. Nautical themes and Americana speak to me because I grew up in Virginia near Williamsburg and the whole history of the New World starting in that area. I also love to create three dimensional items. I like the challenge of creating a product that needs to have finishing instructions with it. It is like putting a puzzle together. The funny thing is I hate to finish, but that is one of the things that I am good at.
You are very involved in teaching, which is great! How important is it that our industry makes teaching a top priority?
Teaching needs to be a big priority!!!!! When I teach at the trade shows I try to tell my customer base, the shop owners, not to be afraid to have classes. Especially finishing classes, a lot of shop owners feel like they will lose money if they teach their clients to finish. About 1% of the clients go on to finish their own work. Teaching new techniques and combining techniques is a big thing that the industry needs start thinking about. We also need to figure out how to start teaching children, teenagers and the contemporary 20-30 year olds. We need to work on mixing mediums and creating items that fit into the modern world. iPhone covers, Notebook covers and so on.
A stitching store is a destination stop for customers. If you have classes you take that element out of the mix. The customer is sitting for a longer period of time. They start to really look at what is in the store. Then they see what their neighbor has brought with them. Trust me if you are a true stitcher then you travel with at least 3 to 4 projects, just in case you might get caught somewhere with nothing to do.
Having teachers in can be expensive, but it can really help with sales. You are bringing in a new person who has new ideas and can create a market for new products.
It is hard to design for the teaching market and the retail market. I try to write my instructions for my teaching pieces so that my students can go home and create the piece without me there. The reason I am there teaching is to give them the little hints and history about the pieces that they are working on. Retail is different, you have to give just the straight facts. Many of these stitchers have not taken classes and need to have the product simple.
Who are a few people who helped or encouraged you over the years as your talents progressed?
Edna Medlin got me off the ground, Chris from Norden Craft put Dames of the Needle out there as a distributor, Lois from Elegant Stitch took a chance on us and help us along, Pam at 3 Stitches, Cathe from Needle in a Haystack, Jeannine of Acorn and Threads, Jean Lee from Attic Needle, Just Cross Stitch helped, Marion Scoular, Lauren Sauer, Merry Cox, Lucy Lyon Willis, Mary Ann of Female Worth, Pat at Lakeside Linens, Kristy and Jim at The Gentle Art, Miranda from Weeks Dye Works and Lamar from Access Commodities, The Gift of Stitching and many more. And of course Hoffman Distributing. Rod approached me at market and asked if I would let you guys distribute for me. I have had wonderful mentors and shop owners that have helped me over the years.
Would you tell us a few things you love most about the cross-stitch industry?
I love that it is a tactile industry, it crosses all ages and abilities. I love the fact that I can design anywhere and can plan my life while I am working. It is a very giving industry-we can be independent, but we love to share our passion with our customers and other companies in the industry.
What are a few of your favorite pastimes or hobbies when you're not stitching?
I run and I have just started doing Yoga. I have two children Isabelle (Isa) and Miguel and they keep me busy. We have a bearded lizard, 2 dwarf rabbits and a rambunctious corgi who keeps all of us very busy. I love to paint and read, but those are things that I hardly get time to do. I am addicted to Words with Friends.
Would you rather cook dinner or eat out?
Both-eating out is easy since I work in the house all day it is my escape from my work place. I love to cook a big meal. I am the person who loves to cook for a dinner party or a big Thanksgiving dinner. I am not the short order cook type person. I like to take the kids out to a little eatery and sit down with them and focus on them to see what their day is like and so on.
Where is your choice vacation spot?
I love the beach, I love the beach, I love the beach. I grew up near the water and I suffer being land locked in Atlanta. The kids love the beach too. We love to go there and just hang out, we do not do the tourist stuff, we just play in the surf and collect sea shells. We really love the eastern shore, but we have been lucky enough to experience the Gulf of Mexico and it is our second favorite. I want to go to England-if I was reincarnated I came from there or Ireland or Scotland. I have a calling for those countries and hope to get there one day. I kid with Isa that I want to move to England, own a Land Rover and marry an Irishman, or Englishman, or Scots or ... well anyone with an interesting accent!
Any closing thoughts on cross-stitch, Dames of the Needle, or life in general?
The Cross Stitch industry needs to re-think of how to present itself to the market. We need to start embracing mixing paint, paper and other mediums to our designs. We need to capture the 'younger' market. There is always a place for the traditional, but mixing it up is a thing we need to embrace or we may become extinct. For Dames of the Needle-I am always evolving. I love trying to think of the new thing I can do to excite my customer base and to get new customers. I just had a revelation recently that I am basically a pattern maker that adds stitching onto my products. I want to explore creating three dimensional items that may not have counted work on them. I am enjoying painting on linen and adding paper and other embellishments to the mix.
I have a BFA in Fine Arts and I have a calling to start creating "art" just for me or resale. I am not sure how that will happen, but I am thinking on it.
I am also working on my teaching. I love being out there and seeing the light bulb go off. I think that teaching is the love of my life. I enjoy the designing and creating. Writing the instructions is part of the boring bits. But to create something and to have people want me to teach them how to do it is absolutely overwhelming.
I also see myself doing more research and producing pieces for publication that have historical significance. I have created several pieces for magazines that have been released for the retail market and these pieces were very satisfying to create.
On that note, a funny story is that when my children where little and they saw my pieces on the website, in stores and my pieces published in magazines, they thought all mums did this. My daughter would ask her friends which magazines had their mums been published in. They have also gone to work with me in local shops and have seen people ask me for my autograph. Both Isa and Miguel thought that it was normal for people to ask others for their autographs. Their friends think that it is cool that I have a business that I started all on my own and that it is something that I love to do. I try to talk to children about picking jobs and creating jobs for themselves that they will love to do.