Twenty years ago, when Amazon only sold books and Google wasn’t a verb, Needlepoint.com opened its doors in Raleigh, North Carolina, as a brick and mortar store. Since then, it has undergone radical growth, like the Internet itself.
Nancy Young has always had two passions in life - stitching needlepoint and good design. After completing a degree in design and, while raising three daughters, she started designing needlepoint kits out of her home in Toronto. Originally, Nancy painted and kitted each canvas herself. As an enthusiastic stitcher, she aspired to produce high quality English-style kits. As a one-woman operation, this early business could not compete. One of the many lessons Nancy learned was to be sympathetic and supportive of the trials young, new needlepoint designers often face.
Upon relocating to Raleigh, Nancy was again thinking of getting back into the needlepoint business. Her loving, thoughtful, geeky, husband bought her the domain name Needlepoint.com as a Christmas present. Now all she needed was a store. Her first location was a small space in Raleigh’s Peach Tree Market.
The store opened in March of 1999 with one employee, Marilyn. Marilyn observed the Youngs weren’t from Raleigh because no one from North Carolina would schedule a grand opening during the NCAA Basketball Tournament. Nancy “rebounded” quickly and put a small television in the store so shoppers could browse for a needlepoint project without missing their favorite team during March Madness.
In order to secure store stock, Nancy needed to attend the national needlework industry conference. Because of her shop’s name, the show’s organizers required Nancy to bring a federal tax i.d. number, business license, utility bill, photo of the store and an ad from the phonebook! She fondly recalls John, from Rainbow Gallery, became her market mentor and walked her around making introductions to designers and buyers.
By 2006, the store was humming along so Nancy made another bold move and purchased the English tapestry kit maker she most admired, Elizabeth Bradley Design. At that time, Elizabeth Bradley had not been part of the eponymous design house for several years, but was convinced by Nancy to come back and add one more collection to the catalog. Nancy and Elizabeth bonded over their shared understanding of the value of a well-designed needlepoint kit. Working with a timeless design and the highest quality wool and canvas, a stitcher is assured of ending up with a beautiful finished product. By 2011, Nancy was holding seminars in Oxford for Europeans interested in learning to stitch their own cushions and rugs. Today, she holds the same classes at Needlepoint.Com in Raleigh. This year, the Elizabeth Bradley weekend of events will happen May 1st and 2nd.
The successful collaboration with Elizabeth Bradley led Nancy to another design partnership. Nancy and English designer Vernon Kirk formed Kirk & Bradley Design where they work closely on every new canvas in the line. This design side of the business continues to grow and includes Burnett & Bradley and Abigail Cecile Design.
The popularity of needlepoint outpaced the size of Nancy’s shop. In 2013 she moved, for a fourth time, to a warehouse at 3811 Hillsborough St. Needlepoint.com renovated the old warehouse into a modern and stylish store with offices behind. This is where the growing team creates beautiful products, innovative educational needlepoint how-to videos, and enjoys serving thousands of enthusiastic stitchers from across America and around the world.
As 2020 begins, Needlepoint.com has twenty-four employees and a customer base of many thousands. Every day, dozens of stitchers visit the store while hundreds more place their orders on line. It is our happy and enthusiastic customers who inspire all of us at Needlepoint.com and we hope you will visit soon.
The retail store has become a destination for those who travel the I-95 corridor on the US East Coast, who visit students at the many universities in the area, or who enjoy vacationing in North Carolina. For the past five years, we have hosted an “A La Carte Retreat” for more than 400 stitchers from all over the world. This year’s event is set for October 2nd and 3rd.
The needlepoint market has exploded over the past two decades. Thread choices have expanded, new designers are finding their niches, and there are myriad ways to finish a project. One thing will never change; Needlepoint.com aspires to offer ever better service and ever more beautiful products of the highest quality.