Celebrating 40 Years!

Celebrating 40 Years!

2022 is a BIG year for us here at Designer Stencils®! We are celebrating 40 years in business!!

40 Years and Counting

Wow - where did the time go? I know it sounds cliche, but it really does feel like yesterday that my mom, Helen Walker, decided to quit her job and open a shop selling...stencils. She was a successful real estate agent but always had her hand in crafts and refinishing her homes and antique finds. The other day, I sat down with her to capture her version of how she got the idea and how it evolved over the years. Though she technically retired in 2012, COVID brought her back to us full time and we couldn't do without her!

To celebrate our achievement - each month leading up to November (our official 40th anniversary) we will share with you a piece of history as we look back at how our business came to be and then evolved over the years.

How It All Began

The story has it, that in September of 1982 Helen was hosting the "Stitch and Bitch" group of women who would gather and cross-stitch and socialize. Helen, not being a stitcher, would work on her braided rugs. She had just stenciled her kitchen and she showed her friends her handiwork, stating "I loved doing it so much I could quit my job and do this full-time!" Well, Ruth Ellen, who owned a successful cross-stitch shop called The Strawberry Sampler, said "Then why don't you? There is space available around the corner from my shop and I bet my customers would love to see what you can do."

Within a few weeks, Helen did quit her job and drove through New England with her parents checking out some stencil shops to get ideas. By November she had rented the space around the corner from her friend hoping to bring in $50 a day to cover the rent. She put her sewing machine in the tiny back room and planned to spend her days sewing between customers. Needless to say, she never got a chance to use her machine! Customers where intrigued even before she opened her doors.

For inventory, every Friday, she would drive to Mullica Hill, New Jersey to buy hand-cut stencils from a designer named Gail Grisi. Within a few months, Helen was selling so many stencils that Gail Grisi had trouble keeping up with the demand! Customers also started asking for other patterns. Now came the big dilemma - how could she grow her business if she couldn't get the stencils fast enough? 

Stay tuned! Next month I'll share with you how she came up with Designer Stencils®

Our humble beginnings...

Our First Storefront
Our Fearless Leader
Hand Cut Stencils For Sale