Spotlight: Lizzy Dabczynski-Bean, Stitcher and Entrepreneur
This is not your grandmother’s cross stitch – but Lizzy Dabczynski-Bean’s inspiration began with admiring the work of her grandmother and great-grandmother. Lizzy gives it all a new twist with contemporary patterns depicting people and the life events that are important to them.
What is your earliest memory involving needle and thread?
I grew up in a bedroom where on the wall was a cross stitched piece by my mother’s mother, and an old embroidered piece made by my great grandmother for my father’s mother, with whom I share initials. I was always enchanted that these pieces were made by hand!
What sparked your current passion for cross stitch? How did Stitch People get started?
Finding and creating a niche! I picked up cross-stitching again after what was probably a 10-15 year break, but I didn’t have any interest in large, complex pieces with dozens and dozens of floss colors. So I developed Stitch People because I wanted to create bite-sized, personal projects with a more contemporary look.
What was the hardest part of breaking out of a “real” job to pursue your creative calling?
Trusting that the momentum won’t die. It’s important to have faith in the process.
What has been the most rewarding part of that process?
Many people reach out with the most amazing stories. They tell me that Stitch People helped them process the death of a family member or gave them purpose while enduring chemo treatments. Some people are disabled and have found Stitch People as a way to make some extra income from home. Many people find it to be mediative and healing. So learning how Stitch People helps others, inspires others, brings people together, and even heals hearts has been extremely humbling and inspiring.
It looks like you are still enthusiastic about cross stitch. What do you love about stitching? How does designing new books and patterns keep you engaged?
I really like playing with color – combining floss colors, then matching colors to a particular likeness. Designing new books and patterns is the biggest way I stay engaged with my community when I design what they want to see, have, and use. So it keeps me informed and connected to continue to produce things that Stitch People fans are anticipating!
What do you do differently? What is your signature that makes your work stand out as yours?
Stitch People is what’s different! Cross Stitch portraits were few and far between when we started. In 2013, we were one of three similar ideas on Etsy. But now if you search “cross stitch family portrait”, there are upwards of a thousand offerings, most of which utilize Stitch People patterns.
How does your studio organization contribute to your work process?
I don’t have a studio! Because it is important for my husband and me to stay mobile. In various places we have lived, I’ve set up a desk and a shelf and a small area to stay and be organized but mostly my materials live in one or two clear plastic tubs that make it easy to see what I need. We like the ability to travel and work remotely so mobility of work materials is key!
What plays in the background while you work? Silence? Music, audiobooks, movies? If so, what kind?
When I’m stitching, Netflix – I love British Crime dramas, and sitcoms. When I design, I listen to music, audiobooks and podcasts – I really like “Stuff You Should Know!”
How do you stay organized when working with multiple design ideas and processes?
Poorly. 🙂 Because I have a lot of lists and a lot of things jumbling about in my head at any given moment. I don’t have a differentiation between “work” and “personal” or “home” life, because my husband and I both work from home doing Stitch People. We do well with concerted sit-down brainstorms to get focused. But sometimes we are answering emails while standing in lines at Disneyland! The key is identifying the most important things and working at them one at a time.
Do you think that creativity comes naturally to people – or do you think creativity is a skill that people can learn?
It absolutely can be learned. I believe we pigeonhole creativity too often into “art, music, dance” kinds of categories. But an innovative financial planner who makes complex spreadsheets for budgeting numbers is highly creative in my book. Creativity just takes confidence and a little courage if practiced and built over time. Remember, creativity can be exercised in any area of life, and in any professional expertise or hobbyist capacity.
Tell us about your blog and website. What do you hope people will gain by visiting?
We want people to learn and be inspired to create. Self-direction, innovation, and personalization are integral to Stitch People so we want to give people tools and ideas to let their creativity run wild.
What do you hope the next year will bring?
We are actively working on establishing relationships with companies and brands who we hope to partner with to bring some pop culture influence and options to the stitch people collection.
Browse through more hand embroidery projects and inspiration on Create Whimsy.