Diane Poston and Karen Bell traded longtime corporate careers for a commercial embroidery machine, long days of sewing and a workshop in Karen’s basement.And, the best friends say, they couldn’t be happier.“I love it,” Bell said. “I’m finally doing something I thoroughly enjoy every aspect of, and it gives us a chance to be creative.”Poston, 54, and Bell, 59, who live in Indian Land, started Rainbow Creations in 2012. Using a Barudan embroidery machine, they stitch logos and designs on everything from T-shirts to stuffed animals.Bell has a sewing background, but had worked for years in human resources management. Poston’s career had been in manufacturing, distribution and logistics management.Looking to retire, Bell gave three months notice at her job and told herself she’d figure out what to do next. Through a conversation with a friend, she and Poston learned about the embroidery industry.Bell and Poston met about seven years ago when they were neighbors in a townhome community in Ballantyne.“Karen was at one end of the building, and I bought the (unit) at the other end,” Poston said. “We met, and the rest is history.”When Poston got married and decided to move to Indian Land, Bell moved as well. They now live about a mile apart and have set up their business in Bell’s basement.“We love it here,” Poston said. “This is a growing area, and we’re meeting new people and enjoying the growth that’s coming to this area.”Rainbow Creations has grown quickly, with clients ranging from a big company in Charlotte to local churches. They also do individual projects, such as embroidering a child’s name on a bag chair.At the center is their embroidery machine, which they purchased after extensive research and shopping around.The Barudan machine allows them to create or enter a design into a computer program, which the machine then sews.The machine can sew with 15 threads at a time, allowing Poston and Bell to create multi-color designs.The friends have built their business on word-of-mouth and a commitment to a high quality product and good customer service, Poston said.One of the first church customers was Harrison United Methodist Church, which hired Rainbow Creations to make shirts for a mission team traveling to Haiti. The church regularly visits the Caribbean country to work with College John Wesley, a primary and secondary school in Cap Haitien, Haiti. “They came up with some designs, and we just fell in love with one of the ones they gave us,” said Patsy Sheppard, co-chairwoman for Harrison UMC’s missions ministry. “They were great to work with.”The missions team wore the royal blue V-neck shirts, embroidered with a logo of hands clasping, when they traveled and for special events in Haiti. Sheppard said strangers frequently asked about their trip when they saw the group wearing the shirts.Bell and Poston sometimes work with a graphic artist to create custom designs, but they otherwise do the work themselves. That can mean embroidering late into the night, such as when they recently filled an order for a large company that called them in a panic because they needed embroidered shirts quickly. Bell and Poston turned the large order around in two weeks.“We are (at times) working from sun up to sun down and beyond,” Poston said. “When we get into a rhythm, we can be really productive.”The women said for them, Rainbow Creations is about more than making a living.“We sincerely want to make a difference and make people smile,” Bell said. One-time orders, such as school-color towels embroidered with the name of a teenager heading to college, make people smile, she said. Items with corporate logos can build company morale and build business. Both have embraced a work life outside of the traditional office setting. “I don’t look back, and I don’t regret any decision I’ve made, including this one,” Poston said. “I feel like we have been led here for a reason.” For more information about Rainbow Creations, call 803-547-5170.
Friday, Aug. 23, 2013
Embroidery is the niche they wanted
Marty Minchin is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Marty? Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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