Hello! My name’s Michelle, and I create DIY embroidery kits out of my Toronto apartment. My shop is called Kiriki Press.
My business started with an empty wallet and a simple idea. I needed a gift for my youngest niece, Madeleine. I couldn’t afford to buy her anything, but I hoped to make up for it with my time. I decided to learn how to embroider so I could make her a set of three owl dolls to play with. It was difficult to find contemporary embroidery patterns that weren’t overly simplistic, let alone embroidered doll patterns, so I ended up designing my own. As I was making Madeleine’s owls, I became fascinated with embroidery: the vibrant colors, the countless variety of stitches, the calming effect it had on me. I majored in printmaking at university, so silkscreening the patterns right onto the fabric seemed like an obvious step to make the transfer process easier. After I printed one pattern, I knew it would be easy to make more. I moved back in with my mom and spent the better part of a year coming up with my original seven patterns.
Now, three years later, Kiriki Press has become a real full-time job. I’m lucky to have had the chance to collaborate with amazing publications like Mollie Makes and travel to craft fairs across North America. It isn’t always a total blast (assembling kits can become tedious), but I’m constantly learning new things. I’m excited for the ideas that are just around the corner, including the sleepless nights and missteps that come with the territory.
My favorite part of what I do is the design process. I draw each animal over and over again for months before settling on a preliminary design; then there’s lots of experimenting with stitches. At the moment, I’m working on three new patterns – wolf, hedgehog and panda – which should be ready by early autumn. Each of my patterns is essentially an embroidery sampler, so I design each one to offer a fun challenge and give feeling of accomplishment to its maker, in addition to looking cute. I love that my customers get both an experience and a finished product.
Etsy has played a fundamental role in my business. Seeing the front page Treasuries over the years showed me what modern craft could be, and reading the Quit Your Day Job series gave me a tangible goal to work toward. Over time, I realized that I could actually make something with my own two hands and get it out into the world. What I didn’t expect was how many friendships I would make along the way, both in person and online. I’m so incredibly grateful for the community of talented makers and thoughtful customers that I’ve come to know through craft.