Come ye Thankful People, Come
Monday & Tuesday - October 2-3, 2017
at the Publick House in Sturbridge, MA
of The Victoria Sampler
It seems to me as though embroidery has always been in my life. I was born in Holland and there it was natural that every woman had some stitching ready to while away a few hours in the evenings after the housework was done. My mother was always stitching or mending, my aunts and grandmothers embroidered, and I started working with floss and fabric when I was very young. I also loved my colouring pencils and special sketch pads which I received every St. Nicholas Feast Day. I have many special memories of warm and cozy evenings drawing by the coal fire, my mother stitching and my brother reading or listening to the radio.
In 1957 our family emigrated to Canada, we became Canadian citizens, and we all worked hard to make this country our own. I met and married my husband, Peter, in Victoria in 1974 and within a few years we had two daughters, Dori and Petra. While the children were young I'd while away the "waiting" hours with floss, linen and old patterns given to me by my mother. I especially loved making up birth samplers and home sweet home samplers to give away to my friends. In the late 1970's I discovered some patterns in a little shop near my home, and was thrilled to find some designs I didn't have to make up.
The needlework industry was just swinging into high gear in the USA, cross stitch was the rage, and I was in heaven. As the girls grew up and needed me less and less, I became restless. Wanting to expand my horizons, I worked in a bookstore part-time, began to write a bit, and sang in a local chamber choir. However, I was always happier working with my stitching. In the fall of 1988, I had made up a small cross stitched picture of my friend's house for her birthday. Encouraged by her praise, I resolved to try designing a cross stitch picture of the Legislative Buildings in Victoria, package it, and try to sell the kit to local craft and embroidery shops. The following year I turned 40 and sold my first kits under the Lampost Designs name. At first they sold slowly, but I was persistent and finally successful in placing them in stores that sold crafts and tourist souvenirs as well.
One of my first clients was the owner of a brand new shop in Victoria called "Fancyworks". She asked me to help in the shop, and I was there when it opened in October 1989. From the first moment, I loved working there! The contact with people who loved needlework and treated it with respect was an eye-opening experience. Dawn was an inspiration, with her uncanny eye for beauty and fine design. Over the years, my co-workers (Debbie and Yvonne) became great friends, supportive, encouraging and loving. The members of the guild who shopped in the store were always thirsty for new ideas and I empathized with the many customers looking for lovely affordable charts. I designed a few small samplers for the store and these were met with an appreciation that I found addictive!
In the fall of 1992, I designed White Christmas Sampler while flying over the white clouds on a vacation to France. When I began receiving phone calls from shops in Canada and the USA I realized that "White Christmas" was a hit! Many orders followed, and it became evident that I needed to revamp my business model, and move into the sampler world.
The Victoria Sampler was born in 1993 with a stock of a very few samplers. I began to teach more frequently, discovered how to work with my computer and printing company, and loved waking up in the morning knowing that my life was full and happy with family, friends and work. That quiet time in the evening or early morning, when I can escape with my colouring pencils, my graph paper, and now my computer and embroidery supplies is the time I value the most, for it brings back my childhood and the feelings of warmth and love from childhood in Amsterdam.
I started the Victoria Sampler after my husband and I went our separate ways. I met a great friend, Richard, who helped me start to distribute my own designs and accessory packs in 1997. Lisa worked as our bookeeper, inventory control and layout artist, and has become an awesome finishing designer as well. Many friends help to run and monitor our ongoing online classes and they have supported us unstintingly. I'm very grateful to all of them. We have downsized recently, and I'm semi-retiring from the hustle of the business. Lisa now does the work of three women at once and is still my right hand! I'm so grateful to her for staying the course, as I think Victoria Sampler would have to close if it wasn't for her help. We are so happy working together, I think it will be a few years yet before I retire completely.
My life is still full of fun and rewarding work and now also some relaxing times! I make time to travel to teach at least a couple of times a year. I love to my two daughters Dori and Petra, being part of my Mom's later years, and also spending time with Richard who is now my partner in life as well as in business. I read a lot, try to eat healthily, meditate, and travel for enjoyment.
I have learned a great deal in the past 19 years in business! I have learned that making mistakes is part of being human; I have learned to have a deep respect for our Suppliers and Needlework Retail shop owners who work very hard at making needlework accessible and exciting; and finally, I have learned that I have an unbreakable bond with YOU.. the many stitchers who spend their own precious time on the designs I produce in my studios. You make my work a joy! - Thea :)