Lather + Stitch creates crochet goods by hand in Columbus. Owner, Ashley, integrates her Eco-conciousness into her products and brand. We are so excited to welcome this talented Ohioan as a vendor at our Holiday Maker Mart! Meet Lather + Stitch at our 2017 Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart on December 3rd!
Tell us about your local business.
Lather + Stitch is a crochet-based shop specializing in handmade wares for women, children, and home. I started Lather + Stitch while I was a graduate student in Illinois, but my hook and yarn collection moved to Columbus, OH with me when I started my PhD in Geography at OSU in 2015. My creative and intellectual drives have always been interwoven—I started Lather + Stitch in part because I needed a creative outlet to balance the rigors of graduate school. But the connection runs deeper. We live in a world where mass-produced consumerism fuels corporate greed, environmental destruction, and political detriment to human lives. My struggle against these issues has informed not only my intellectual work, but also my creative work, where my commitment to slow made and small made goods allows ethical concerns about consumerism, labor rights, and the environment to be prioritized.
What drew you to your craft?
I learned to crochet in my mid-20s because my brother and his partner were expecting their first baby and I wanted to make a baby blanket for my nephew. I grew up with a crafty mama and learning a new skill was no big deal in my house. My mom tried to teach me how to crochet once as a child, but I could only learn how to make an endless chain! I decided to give it a second go around 20-some years later, and I guess it stuck! While making the blanket for my nephew, which was complete with a eucalyptus tree and koala bear, I remember being in awe about the inter-connectedness between the maker and the entirety of the final project. When I completed the blanket, I just looked at it thinking, “I made that” —I made every. Single. Stitch of it with my hands and hook. It was a really cool feeling of accomplishment that drove me to crochet more projects.
What is your favorite thing you have ever made?
The blanket I made for my nephew will always be. It signified new beginnings—a new baby in the family, a new craft, and ultimately paved the way for a new adventure for me in Lather + Stitch! Even as the perfectionist in me cringes when I see the blanket now—crooked edges, dropped stitches, uneven transitions, it reminds me of where Lather + Stitch started, and how much I’ve developed my technique and craft over the years.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I never had just one idea of what I wanted to be—the answer was probably different every time I was asked. I had a lot of interests and hobbies so I’m sure whatever I was active in at the moment is what I wanted to be. However, I have strong grade school memories of wanting to be president, an archaeologist, or a teacher. I’m about two years away from being a college professor, I guess that’s close enough to teacher!
What is your creative process?
Like many makers, I’m endlessly inspired by the work of other creatives. I endlessly stalk Instagram and Pinterest for ideas, always looking for ways to incorporate latest trends into the handmade revival movement. A lot of my creative work is in curating collections, rather than designing individual pieces. Each season I develop a collection around a theme—this fall/winter’s theme is “woodland wonderland”—so woodland critter hats for babies and kids, and lots of lumberjack-inspired buffalo plaid pieces for mamas and littles, each complete with fur poms and fur trim!
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
Allow more space for trial and error. Perfectionism is a blessing and a curse! In Lather + Stitch, but also other areas of my life, the most profound learning opportunities have come on the heels of mistakes. Mistakes are OK!
Why is it important to support local artists & makers?
As I said earlier, I think a lot of social, political, and environmental problems in this world are directly linked to mass production and consumerism. Supporting local artists and makers is a real and easy way for us to collectively challenge those problems. Artists are also key to imagining better, kinder worlds that could be. Supporting those visions are an important way to help make those dreams reality. For me, supporting local creatives is an important political and economic strategy that challenges the pains of the world we live in.
Why do you love doing what you do?
Crocheting has brought me a lot of calming energy and a way to deal with the stresses of life and my day job as a professional student. With or without Lather + Stitch, I can’t imagine a day without crochet therapy. Through Lather + Stitch, being connected to other creatives, makers, and small business owners has been a really big part of grounding myself in Ohio, and experiencing community here. I love the hustle of craft shows, the excitement and support from loyal customers, seeing my goods on display in other retail shops. It helps me to live and feel and connection I have to my Ohio family.
What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own businesses?
Surround yourself with other women businesses owners who support, encourage, and inspire you! In the good times, you will have friends to celebrate your successes. In the challenging times, you will have friends to lean on. And in the in between times, you will make friends.
What is your favorite thing about Exploring Ohio?
As an Ohio transplant, there’s so much to love about Exploring Ohio! I am endlessly in awe of the amazing parks and nature in Ohio, the diversity and inter-connectedness of its communities, and the overwhelming drive to support Ohio businesses. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the amazing restaurants here in Columbus, too.
Meet Lather + Stitch at our Ohio Explored Holiday Maker Mart!