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Connecting through thread: Kretz finds artistic home with embroidery business

Sep 08, 2023

During her youth, Owensboro resident Stevie Kretz didn’t consider herself to be the artistic type.

“I thought art was just painting and drawing,” Kretz, 32, said. “But I was always creative and I liked to make things and finding unique ways to make things.”

Kretz had a fondness for sewing but didn’t realize it could be considered an artform until discovering contemporary hand embroidery in 2016 — a time she remembers “vividly.”

“I was laying in bed about to go to sleep one night … and I stumbled on this girl’s (Instagram page) that did very contemporary embroidery, which I had never seen,” she said. “I was instantly intrigued, so I went to her page and I spent the whole night just looking at all of her posts, reading the comments.”

The next morning, Kretz went to JOANN Fabric and Crafts to buy supplies to start making her own works.

“Whenever I get excited about something, I have to do it right then,” she said.

At first, Kretz found embroidery as a way to relax.

But it didn’t take long to be approached by someone looking to buy one of her hand-stitched Harry Potter creations.

“(The creations) started very simple (with) linework mostly, but as time went on they got more detailed,” she said. “... Embroidery, to me, feels almost like painting with thread; you’re making a picture and it’s not as much of a formula as cross stitch. There’s a lot more creative freedom.”

A single project can take up to five to 10 hours to complete, she said.

But Kretz doesn’t mind.

“It forces you to kind of slow down. You have to (work) slow (and) you have to be detailed,” she said. “That’s what I really like about it.”

Kretz began showcasing her work on Instagram and selling her products on Etsy under the business name Stevie Kretz Designs, which continues to grow with new customers and people highlighting her skills.

“Every time someone shows interest, or buys something or even just shares something — it progresses (the business) a little bit more,” she said.

The height of COVID-19 allowed Kretz to have more time to spend on the business as she was able to work from home and more people were finding her products and making purchases to decorate their homes.

Kretz recently expanded the operation to now include stickers in order to give potential patrons something new, which are quick to make via art softwares Procreate and Canva Pro.

“Embroidery takes so long to do and I wanted to do more; something that I could do faster and put out faster, because I love making things and sharing them with people,” she said. “... I like to be able to have that instant turnaround with (the stickers).”

Showcasing her work brings Kretz joy.

“Every time I see that notification that someone’s made an order, it’s just as exciting (as the beginning),” she said. “I don’t think that will ever get old.”

Kretz said she may add other creations into the mix.

“I just started kind of getting into doormats. There’s one in front of my front door right now. I’ve only made one for one person so far, but some people have expressed interest in that,” she said. “I am creating (them) in the same programs by creating a stencil of whatever I decide to make and then using acrylic paint and hand-painting them.

“I’d like to do a lot of stuff.”

Kretz wants to continue connecting with people through her art.

“I love making stuff and I love sharing stuff,” she said. “Sharing something that I made that I am really proud of and I thought was really cool, and then having other people agree just makes me feel a sense of comfort.

“... I think it unifies people … and it helps me feel unified with other people I don’t know,” she said. “It just feels very good.”

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