Alibi V.24 No.40 • Oct 1-7, 2015 
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Business Profile

Hip Stitch

What was your first job?

At age 15, I made grilled sandwiches at Jerry's Sub Shop. I still have Jerry's secret sauce recipe.

How did you get started in this business?

I love to sew. I've sewn nearly all my life. It's both practical knowledge to have when you're raising a family, and it's also a tremendous creative outlet. I wanted to share my knowledge and my enthusiasm with others.

  • Company name: Hip Stitch
  • Type of business: Quilt fabric shop and sewing lounge
  • Owners: Suzanne Kelly
  • Ages: 47
  • Hometown: Gaithersburg, Maryland
  • Number of Employees: 6
  • Business Email:
  • Business Website: hipstitchabq.com

Why did you choose this business?

In 2008, the concept of a sewing lounge—a gathering place for people who may not own their own sewing machine—was just coming into vogue. There wasn't a sewing lounge in Albuquerque and I believed I could offer a unique service.

What is your business philosophy?

My philosophy is to treat customers with kindness and respect, to love what you're doing and have a willingness to share your knowledge with others.

What is your or your company's greatest asset?

The staff is my greatest asset. They all love to sew and they love to share their creative talents with others, particularly people who are brand new to the sewing scene and don't realize that sewing isn't really all that hard.

What are your strongest business traits?

Since many of my customers are brand new to sewing and quilting, it's important for me to be patient and even-tempered and to communicate concepts and techniques in clear and easy-to-understand terms. I also have a great sense of humor.

Why did you choose to do business in Albuquerque?

Albuquerque is my home and I'm raising my family here. No pun intended, but we're part of the fabric of New Mexico.

What motivates you to succeed besides the desire to make money?

I love it when I'm teaching someone to sew and I see that smile when they've accomplished something wonderful with fabric and the sewing machine.

How is operating your own business different than you expected?

It's so much harder than I thought it would be. The hours are long and sometimes I've been in a position when my family came second to customers.

How do you maintain your competitive edge?

I’m always marketing. A friend once told me that I should set a goal to spend at least 15 minutes a day on marketing. That sounded crazy to me at first, but now it’s my habit and I spend a lot more than 15 minutes.

What was your best business decision?

One of my best business decisions was to help found the Albuquerque Modern Quilt Guild and to give the guild a place where they could have meetings, workshops and fundraising events. The guild members are among my best customers and they give me insight into cool products and trends.

What contributions to the community (charitable or otherwise) are you most proud of?

Several times a year, Hip Stitch donates merchandise and classes to a number of silent auctions. Also, we host a monthly  “sew-in” where people work together on charity projects for groups such as Baskets of Hope and Capes of Courage, which donates soft toys and puppets, pillowcases and costumes for hospitalized children. We’re also actively involved in “Days for Girls,” an effort to make reusable feminine hygiene products for girls in Africa so that they can attend school rather than stay home during their menstrual periods.

If you had to choose another career or start another business what would it be?

My first career was in education. If I were to choose another career, it would be teaching, especially in the area of special-needs students.

What words of wisdom would you offer to someone starting their own business?

Be prepared to work hard—really hard  Be creative and open to change because your initial vision may not be what your customers want or need.   ​

What's your favorite saying or quotation?

"Bloom where you're planted." I kept a greeting card with this quote on my desk during my first year as a teacher.

If you had a chance to live anyone else's life, whose life would it be?

​Honestly, no one. I’m very happy living mine. ​

Do you have a hero or mentor—business or otherwise?

​Ann Silva of Ann Silva's BERNINA has been so gracious and kind to me over the past seven years. She's offered advice, words of wisdom and she has a professionalism I admire.​

If there is one thing about Albuquerque or New Mexico that you could change, what would it be?

​I would blow away the wind! We don't have a season of spring—we have a season of wind! I've had seasonal allergies all my life so—Ahh-choo—I dread when the wind comes howling through town.​  

What do you look for in prospective employees?

In addition to a passion for sewing and a solid knowledge of technique, a sense of humor is a must. It’s a sign that an employee has other important traits such as flexibility, warmth and kindness.  

What inspires you?

​Not any one thing—just seeing the beauty in the everyday. Appreciating the little things.​