Our roundup of the latest Wellesley, MA business news:
Hipstitch sewing & knitting studio coming to Church Square
The rise of the COVID-19 pandemic also gave rise to newfound interest in sewing, knitting, and crafts, and Newton’s Hipstitch is responding to the demand by expanding into Wellesley, at 20 Church St., in mid-April, and then Brookline, on Harvard Street in June.
“Due to the pandemic more people have been stuck at home so they have taken up hobbies, sewing, knitting and crafts,” says Nicola Day, who started Hipswitch 10 years ago. “Before the demand for masks at the beginning of the pandemic, we sold so many DIY hand and machine sewing kits as well as DIY mask kits that came with instructions and materials and a Youtube tutorial.”
When Hipstitch was forced to close its shop temporarily at the start of the pandemic, Day and her team started sewing masks, and received $100K in orders in one weekend after being featured in a local TV news segment. Day says: “We hired subcontractors (anybody who was laid off, tailors and sewers who worked in factories) who were making 1,000 masks a day for us!”
Hipstitch still sells masks, but with the market flooded, Day’s happy to satisfy the remaining demand but move ahead with other plans, like expanding into Wellesley. One silver lining of the pandemic is that some commercial real estate has become more affordable. Hipstitch will move into the former Candy Bar Cosmetics space in Church Square, which looks to be bouncing back with the arrival soon of NatureWorks Landscape as well.
Hipstitch’s current Wellesley customers have urged Day to open in town, which saw another business that offers sewing classes called Sew Easy consolidate its Linden Street business with a Needham location a couple of years ago.
“We have been looking for new spaces for a few years but they were cost prohibitive or not the right location,” says Day, who according to her bio began sewing her own clothes when she was 11 years old. “We wanted a retail space, for the foot traffic and to show people our creative windows , as well as space to be able to sell all the DIY sewing and craft kits we design as well as unique handmade merchandise and sewing machines and sewing and knitting supplies.”
Hipstitch will be adding knitting supplies and lessons for kids, teen and adults at the two new locations. It didn’t make sense to do that at the Newton location, which is just two doors away from a knitting shop.
The Wellesley shop will be offering pre-school fiber art classes, after-school sewing, parent-child classes, parties and camps, its most popular class, Fashion Design, taught and created by a Parsons School of Design graduate who has also worked for Hipstitch since she was 14 years old.
Day says that the lack of sewing, knitting, and craft offerings in school has allowed Hipstitch to fill a void—one that many parents don’t have the skills to fill themselves. She adds that sewing machines, now computerized, are much easier to operate than they used to be.
The popularity of the TV show Project Runway, and an interest by young people in making their own clothes as a way to be environmentally friendly, are other drivers for sewing’s renaissance, Day says. Social media has helped to fuel this interest, she adds.
Hipstitch plays into social media trends by complementing its kits and classes with Youtube tutorials. But Day says one of the attractive things about sewing, knitting, and crafting is that it also can give kids and adults a break from screens.
“We like the fact that they are doing an activity and using their hand and eye coordination and stimulating the creative part of the brain. People (social distanced of course!) like the social aspect of coming together to create unique projects and feel a sense of pride once they complete a project, as well as finding inspiration from other creators and learning new techniques and skills,” Day says.
WHS seniors with insider knowledge launch Akston Tutoring
A new tutoring services poses this question to Wellesley High School (and other) students: If you need help with your school work, why not go with tutors who have actually been through the same classes recently?
Akston Tutoring is the brainchild of a group of Wellesley High School seniors that has been hatched over the past few months. The name “Akston” comes from a character in Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, a book that espouses the value of hard work and productivity.
WHS senior Nick Lee says he came away with a bad taste in his mouth after meeting with an expensive college consultant, and that has inspired him to ensure that Akston will give clients “accurate advice instead of profitable advice.”
Through the students’ early meetings, WHS senior Jake Merritt says “I began to realize that by creating a platform for qualified high school tutors to meet people who needed help in their classes, we could help a lot of students while also providing employment opportunities for high schoolers.”
One refreshing aspect of Akston is that pricing is transparent: A comparison chart clearly lays out how much the tutoring service’s offerings cost vs. others. Services include academic subject tutoring, SAT and ACT test prep, essay editing, and more. The Gauntlet is “A unique service that has multiple editors look through the same essay to catch every mistake.”
Lee says the pandemic and introduction of hybrid education has actually made the tutors’ jobs a bit easier in that many classes tend to cover less ground. He adds that the Akston crew has also learned a lot about how to best navigate hybrid learning and can offer advice on things like how to effectively communicate online, such as via email, with teachers.
While the four seniors at the heart of Akston Tutoring plan to keep tutoring until they head off for college, they look to pass the business on to younger peers to keep it going indefinitely.
Custom Ink has opened in Linden Square
Custom Ink has opened in Linden Square and the expert team there can customize merch for birthdays, weddings, sports teams, and businesses. You can book an appointment—virtual or in-store—for help creating custom shirts, masks, drinkware, bags, and more.
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