Christmas came early! Can you imagine a job where it's the holidays year round? Kate Stewart, founder of Bauble Stockings, gets to live that. Bauble Stockings are miniature Christmas stockings that act as the grand finale to the holiday. It's the last (and usually best) gift you open. Think jewelry, a plane ticket, or a clue to something that's too big for the stocking. She's brought this amazing tradition to our homes & the homes of all of our friends & family. Perhaps the best part: each stocking is needlepointed in Haiti. She started with 82 stitchers & now has over 600! Creating that many jobs in just 3 years is every entrepreneur's dream! Here's more about Kate & Bauble Stockings:
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Hi! I'm Kate. I'm 34, a wife, and mom of two, my office is in a guest bedroom at my house since Covid started (to be real, my last "office" was really my day job's office but I finally left it in July to pursue this full time!) and I'm currently building out a 1600 square foot work space in our attic. I sell miniature Christmas stockings for a living.
What is your startup story?
I grew up with the Bauble Stockings tradition in my house- only back then the Bauble Stocking was just for my mom, and she always received the final gift of Christmas to say "thank you" for all she'd done for our family that year. Nowadays, everyone in the family has a Bauble Stocking and it's the grand finale of Christmas- the most thoughtful gift of the year that makes you feel warm and fuzzy.
I talked about the idea after I found out upon getting engaged in 2010 that it wasn't a universal tradition. I put out initial inquiries for needlepoint manufacturers in May 2016, and launched June 5, 2018. We were in 32 stores in 2018, 90 stores in 2019, and 148 stores in 2020, and every year I've been like "OMG this is crazy!" It's all been exciting and I'm grateful that, for the most part, people no longer look at me like I'm insane.
What has been the most challenging part? Most rewarding part?
Challenging:Supply chain and logistics for getting materials to Haiti and creating new products there because it's not a computer or cellphone based community so everything takes a long time.
- I love the women we employ in Haiti and their families who we help.
- I love our guest artists and their philanthropies we support, and I love our main philanthropy which a portion of every sale goes to, the Atlanta Children's Shelter. Watching our donation amounts rise each year has created huge moments of pride for me.
- I love our main artist and the fun we have coming up with new designs.
- I love seeing my product in stores- we have the most supportive stores who love our products and go to bat for us and they are all owned by the coolest entrepreneurs.
- I love our customers- they are the best and I feel personally connected to so many of them!! Hearing how people do the tradition in their homes is always a highlight.
I am in awe of the women (and men!) who have had my back and mentioned my name and company in rooms full of opportunities. My company would be no where without the love and support of others and I hope I emulate this kind of kindness wherever I go.
What is something you know now that you wish you knew in the beginning?
Time is your friend. If you think you "strike out" in Year 1 with an opportunity, don't worry, because you will learn, your product will evolve, and you will be more ready when that opportunity comes back around (and it will!). I'm grateful some of the new opportunities I'm seeing now didn't come my way earlier- no matter how ready I thought my product was in Year 1- it has evolved and my mission has changed for the better.
How do you relax & decompress after a long day or week?
I wish I could put a laughing face emoji here.
We got you, Kate: 😂
What advice would you give to other people wanting to start a company?
You have to mean it. It is like a child- a young child- and will need your attention more than you ever imagined. It you want it to grow, you need to nurture it, invest in it, and take risks that make you uncomfortable.
Where can people learn more about your company?