Studio How-to is an up and coming shop that not only has your crafting needs covered but also teaches you how to craft! Sarah Nemeck opened her shop: Studio How-to in Cleveland Heights in 2017. Described as a modern shop for knitters and stitchers, her shop is all about fiber crafts and teaching you how to make them. Her mission is to help people find their passion and creativity and the joy of making things. You can check out her website for all of the workshops that she has to offer! You can also check out and keep up with all the news on Facebook and Instagram.
My name is Sarah Nemecek. I’ve never really felt I was from a particular place because I grew up moving around the US with my family (my dad was an Air Force pilot). I’ve lived in both Alaska and Hawaii, lived on both coasts, and ended up in Cleveland, OH for the last three years (my husband’s hometown). Moving as a kid made me really value family and friends, gave me a love for travel and trying new things, and helped me learn to adapt to new situations. I suppose it has given me the confidence to make big changes in my life and work often, and value being myself.
How did you get the idea for your business?
After college, I worked long hours as a CPA, and in my free time I did lots of sewing, home redecorating, and other DIY projects. Some of my coworkers were intrigued and we started getting together sometimes to make things. I really enjoyed teaching my friends and helping them find a creative outlet. At the time I didn’t really consider that it could be a valid business idea. After several years of accounting, a couple years as a stay-at-home mom and three years as an organic vegetable farmer, I finally revisited my original idea and took the plunge a couple years ago.
How would you describe Studio How-To?
Studio How-To is a shop for modern stitchers and makers. We are here to provide a curated selection of quality materials and tools with which to sew, knit, crochet, embroider, and more! We’d also like to give people a way to find or reconnect with their creative side by teaching classes on how to make all the things. We’re excited to meet each person who comes through our door, help them find their craft, supply, or simply the support they need to get off the screen, make friends in our workshops, and feel happier, healthier and more satisfied with their life.
Were there any challenges you faced when getting your brick and mortar started? If so, how did you overcome them?
Location was an issue for me. I started in a location that was huge and had great potential, but was not easy to find and certainly not welcoming for walk-in traffic. After less than a year, I started looking for new locations and found the space I’m in now. It’s MUCH smaller, but much more visible, accessible, and works for me and my customers. It has also helped me really focus on making the best use of the space, including curating our retail selections, and creating small student-focused workshops.
Walk us through a typical day in the life of a business owner.
It’s hard to describe a typical day because there are so many different things happening all the time. I weave business and homeschooling my son into all parts of my day. I like to start my day slow and quiet with coffee or tea and checking all my emails, social media, making the day’s list, and just getting my plan for the day in order. Then it’s off to the races with making samples, researching new products to carry, designing classes, and connecting with customers, other business owners, and potential workshop instructors. The biggest thing I think people don’t realize about small business owners is that while it looks like we’re having fun all day, it’s a lot of behind the scenes work, and can be lonely sometimes, too.
What was your biggest ‘A-ha’ moment?
When I started offering classes and people actually signed up and told me how happy they were that this type of business exists in their area, I knew I was on the right track. I don’t know if that counts as an ‘A-ha’, but it certainly helped me move forward confidently and know that I could keep being creative and bringing in new ideas and classes.
What are your favorite tools that you use for your business?
Quality cutting tools, workhorse sewing machines, and tools that both feel good to handle regularly and look pretty are super important. I love quality tools and research things before we buy them for the shop (both for sale and for use in workshops). I also insist on only using and carrying materials that are actually fun to work with, look great, and will last with real use.
Or did you mean business tools like computer programs? I’m a big google fan. I use my iPhone for almost all photography currently. Canva is super useful.
What sets your store apart?
There are a few things that make my shop special. We focus on all things stitching, so you can find knitting, sewing, crochet, embroidery, and more in our shop. A lot of crafters focus on one main craft, but want to cross over to other crafts occasionally. Having a shop they trust for their current craft that can help them try new things really resonates with people.
We also cater to beginners and people who may be new to some crafts, or lack confidence in themselves as crafters. We’re here to offer friendly and genuine support on projects, and to teach classes that get in-depth to help new makers build confidence. We teach with what I like to call the “good enough” philosophy. So many people fear making things because they think it has to be perfect, but I point out flaws in my own work, show them how to fix, hide, or redesign something around an error, and move forward to finish a project they can be proud of.
What are some of your top-selling items?
Workshops are huge for us. Our busy customers really enjoy our yarn and maker kits (embroidery, sewing, knitting) too.
What goal(s) are you working toward?
Continually designing fun new workshops on how to make things, keeping our offerings fresh, useful, high quality, and connecting more members of our community with each other through craft.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give someone who’s looking to start their own business?
Take your time, save way more money than you think you will need, and really think through the hard parts of the business before you jump in. But don’t get lost in the details of planning and worrying so much that you don’t take the leap at all. There’s a sweet spot of being ready and jumping in, and it’s different for everyone. Also, success is generally not overnight or easy. Be patient and put in the long term work.
What do you do for fun in your down time?
I’m always keeping my hands busy with knitting, even though I’m around it all day at work. I like to get out in my city, enjoy all the amazing food and culture it offers, walk and hike with my family, read, and dream and research future projects. When we get a chance, I am always game for travel.
Are you a brick and mortar who wants to be featured in our Independent Business Spotlight?
Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’re looking forward to meeting you!
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