July Small Business Startup: Stitches & Pics

DAYTONA NILES / NNY BUSINESS
Stephanie Shively is the owner of Stitches & Pics in Sackets Harbor.

INITIAL IDEA

     With a deep devotion for expression through hands-on creation, a military spouse has opened a studio and educational space that she hopes grows into a haven for artists and community gathering.

     After moving to Sackets Harbor with her husband, who is enlisted with the Army on Fort Drum, Stephanie Shively knew that she wanted to do something with her time that included her dedication to art and education. In November she opened an Etsy shop, an online sales website for handcrafted goods, named Stitches and Pics. Soon after, and in the depths of a north country winter, she found a store front available for rent in downtown Sackets, sparking an idea to expand her passion.

THE JOURNEY

     With her husband in his last duty station before exiting the military Mrs. Shively knew that now was the time to take a leap of faith and open her own business. She located a store in downtown Sackets Harbor that was available for rent and began developing a business plan and model that fit her vision.

     “I’ve always been involved with art and I’ve always been involved with community art- so a lot of non-profits. I have a bachelors in photography and a masters in art and I’ve taught kids ages seven to adults, mostly in photography and some arts and crafts camps,” Mrs. Shively said.

     From this experience her newest venture was born, but this is her first small business and there was much work to be done before she could open her doors.

     “It all worked out that this would be the only time I could open a business because we had the financial stability and we wouldn’t be moving in another three months,” she said. “I have taken advantage of a lot of the resources that are available here. I went to the Small Business Development Center in Watertown, I’ve been going to Chamber of Commerce meetings and all the business owners in Sackets Harbor have been super nice and supportive.”

     With the name of her business in place, something she had created on her Etsy page, and the specific business elements established, she was able to open her doors in a quick six months from the start of the project.

     “It was a little scary because Sackets is a seasonal town. I want to stay open during the winter months and cater to the permanent residents, especially the teens and kids,” she said.

     Now, Stitches and Pics houses artworks from artists Mrs. Shively has met in her travels and working professionally in the art community. She also holds educational workshops and programming for adults and children that expand their creative expression and she hopes also act as a source of therapy to those who participate.

TARGET CLIENTELE

     Her mission is simple: Make art approachable and accessible for permanent residents, visitors and the military community, including a gallery space where local artists can showcase their talents and sell their works to visitors and residents.

      “We have our workshops for the summer for both adults and kids,” she said. “We also offer private classes and I just started booking private parties like “Paint and Sip”. So there is going to be a couple different options like watercolor, paint on canvas, jewelry making, paper marbling and paper making. I’m really trying to make prices affordable while still being able to support the business.”

     Her mission also includes offering different programming options that can assist with the healing process and act as a form of therapy.

     “I’ve personally witnessed the power of art and the healing power of art,” she said. “Just making something with your hands is very therapeutic and so I would really like to bring that to this community. Especially since there is not much access to mental health services here, that I’ve noticed, so I have tried to reach out and partner with certain organizations to have therapy art work programs… like at the Victims Assistant Center and others.”

IN FIVE YEARS

     It’s hard for Mrs. Shively to say where her business will be in five years as she has traveled and moved with her husband’s career in the military so much in the past. But she knows that Sackets Harbor has shown her a great deal of welcome and support, which she now feels is the right place to be at this time.

     “I would love to turn this into a nonprofit eventually,” she said. “I am working on the details of how to format the gallery space so it can sustain itself, possibly a co-op of local artists.”

~By: Holly C. Boname