What do you do when life doesn’t give you the type of business you need in your community? For Wendy Toye, she just opens one herself.
For nearly 30 years she and her staff at Haus of Stitches in Humboldt have been helping crafters of all ages get what they need. Back in the early ‘90s, what Toye needed was high quality yarn.
“(Humboldt) had a fabric store and a yarn store, but they didn't carry a lot of natural fibers. That was our thing to provide the area with better quality stuff.”
What started as a need for certain products became a store with everything on offer; yarn, fabric, machines, patterns, and accessories. Classes have always been a major focus for Toye and her passionate and knowledgeable staff, and no matter what the issue, from patterns and accessories, to machines and problem-solving, someone is always there to lend a hand.
“People will be more willing to do things that they might be a little leery about if they know they have support, that they can ask a question and somebody can give them help.”
What started out as a knitting retreat in Manitou Beach has turned into their annual stitches conference held at St. Peter’s Abbey. With classes for everyone at every skill level; from quilting, garment fitting and creating, to knitting, fabric dyeing and embroidery to name a small few, crafters come from every corner of Saskatchewan and beyond. It’s no wonder Toye and her staff just celebrated the conference’s 20th anniversary in 2023. Crafting as a community, especially in the shared environment which is easily created at the abbey, has been the key to success for the conference itself, said Toye.
“We have an open door policy in our classrooms where anybody can go in and see what everybody else is doing and that has really helped to spread or introduce people to things that they maybe didn't think they might like to do.”
However with their cozy and accessible space within the store, they hold classes year round to either get people started or to expand their skills.
Whether it’s big projects or little ones, Toye has a wide variety of sewing machines on offer and has been a Canadawide top 35 Janome retailer for the past nine years. Not only that, but Toye is proud to have one of the best repair technicians in the province in Brenda Grieman.
“We have machines in here now from Alberta that they couldn't get fixed that they brought to her.”
While COVID provided plenty of challenges for the business world, lockdown and business hiatuses made people turn to learning new skills. Now, Toye sees plenty of young people getting into new craft projects, including crochet and knitting. There is a growing value in handmade gifts, even if people are getting out of crafting at a higher rate than those coming in. Their biggest success over the years has been their interactions with customers at every skill level.
This level of expertise comes with knowledge of her products and services, so Toye’s advice to new business owners, do your research. On the business side, Toye has always trusted Sagehill and someone has always been there to help her with her financial needs and the stress of running a business.
“It's a valuable asset to the community and to the whole area and they've been very important to us. We wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them.”