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Quilting startup MemoryStitch finds niche market in online retail

Many of us probably have a drawer full of old t-shirts acquired over the years. They’re rarely if ever worn anymore, but some have sentimental value that makes it hard to toss them or turn them into rags. Lincoln startup MemoryStitch has a solution – turn them into quilts.

“It’s a niche market,” said Social Media Specialist Ashley Lewis. “We knew there was a market for this for people that can’t quilt themselves. It’s an easy and affordable way to get a memory converted into a quilt.”

Who makes up the primary market?

“Our main demographic is moms with kids who are graduating from high school or college,” Lewis said. “It makes an awesome graduation gift.”

Others seek out MemoryStitch to honor loved ones who have passed on.

“One thing I didn’t expect coming in was how people who have lost loved ones are interested,” Lewis said. “They may not feel comfortable cutting up shirts so they send them to us. We do anything we can to ease and honor, preserving a memory for them in a special way.

MemoryStitch launched October 22nd as a spin-off of Omaha’s AccuQuilt, but mostly stands on its own.

“Our turnaround time is 14 daysguaranteed during our non-holiday seasons,” Lewis said. “We have our own employees for our work, but sometimes we may need to pull a little of AccuQuilt’s resource.”

In the few short weeks since launching, orders have been coming in rapidly.

“Our Cyber Monday sale really blew up,” Lewis said. “It was exciting but it’s not stopping. We need to get the orders filled and keep the quality.”

Social media marketing and customer testimonials have been the primary promotional channels.

“We’ve used a lot of social media, mainly Facebook,” said Marketing & Content Specialist Shelby Larsen. “We’ve also used Google Ad Words and a blog to help SEO.”

Orders are placed online, with help available over the phone.

“We’ve stressed customer service,” Lewis said. “Our competitors don’t have a phone line. We talk customers through the process, make them feel more comfortable. They trust an actual human being.”

Having someone available to talk on the phone has also helped MemoryStitch acquire customer testimonials.

“Since we’re so small, we can reach out to customers and prompt them to submit a review,” Larsen said. “A lot of my emails turn into reviews.”

Social media marketing has led to orders from throughout the country.

“We’ve only seen a few orders from Nebraska,” Larsen said. “We’ve seen a lot from the southeast and the coasts, places like California and Boston.”

Larsen feels their location at FUSE Coworking in the heart of Lincoln’s Haymarket District has been a plus.

“Being in the FUSE building has been awesome,” she said. “We brainstorm with people over lunch, trading ideas. Our company is very pro-startup. We want to be in that world where we’re sharing ideas.”

Where does the company go from here?

“We just had our 2019 planning meeting and we have a lot of exciting things in the works,” Lewis said.

Some additional marketing channels are also in the works.

“We’re going to look for fairs in Lincoln to show the product and how we can help other startups,” Larsen said. “We’re also reaching out to mom bloggers to collaborate on campaigns. It’s a big community.”

Finding ways to use scraps from the quilting process is also being evaluated.

“We’re researching how we can recycle scraps,” Lewis said.“We’ve come up with a couple of ideas, but  haven’t quite nailed down what we’re going to do just yet.”

For now, the focus is on keeping up with demand through the end of the year.

“We’re hoping for a really successful holiday season,” Lewis said. “We’ll see what January holds as we start to launch more items.”

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Rod Armstrong is Vice President of Strategic Partnerships for AIM in Lincoln, Nebraska. He is a regular contributor to Silicon Prairie News.

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