Kreinik Manufacturing Company is a family-owned, USA-based business that started in Jerry and Estelle Kreinik’s home in the early 1970s. Estelle was a teacher of couturier design and used her knowledge of materials to create the first portable needlework organizer on the market. Both had a love of materials, thread, fabrics and yarns. They started researching, buying, then making threads. The Kreinik sons, Doug and Andrew, bought the business when Jerry and Estelle retired, and now Doug is the sole owner, managing a creative staff of marketing, design, customer service and production from the West Virginia factory.
Doug lives, breathes, talks, and walks thread and the many ways it can be used in handmade creations all over the world. You can see this in his travel (teaching, television, trade and consumer show schedule), how he decorates his office (cones of thread as art, hand and machine embroidery displayed everywhere) and manufacturing plant (cross stitch on the wall in the Silk Department), and in how his innovative ideas have helped this 40-year-old company grow (just take a look at www.kreinik.com).
To launch the monthly Kreinik Calling column, we asked Mr X to pitch a few questions at Doug and find out what he had to say. Enjoy!
Q: What is the history of the company?
A: 40 years ago, Estelle and Jerry Kreinik began the business to supplement their income at a time when both were unemployed. My father (a chemical engineer) had lost his job because he was deemed “too old at 57” and my mom was teaching clothing design, and home economics one class a week. My mom came up with a needlework organizer to keep her supplies from going all over the car. They traveled, looking for work, selling the organizer to needlework stores, and listening to the needs of stitchers along the way. They heard the need for more interesting threads; this was the early 1970s, when wool was the standard. They both used their great intelligence, ingenuity and creative skills to create ideas and launch a business.
Q: What kinds of products do you specialize in?
A: We specialize in high-quality yarns and threads made of metallics, silks and real metals. You can use our threads in hand and machine embroidery, for personal projects, art exhibits, school work, or manufactured products, as well as fly-fishing.
Q: How do you make embroidery floss?
A: In our factory, we make metallic braids in 10 sizes. Braiding is a slow operation and very labor intensive. We need to check colors for dye lots, catch bad spots, make sure the machinery is in good order, cone off finished product, wind onto smaller spools, package, and ship the threads all over the world. We don’t do the silk manufacturing in the Parkersburg factory, but do all of our cutting, skeining, and some dyeing there.
Q: What does the needlework industry look like these days?
A: We are working with three demographics that are all very different: the older stitcher, generation X and generation Y. The Y group is very interesting because they generally do not have a lot of money, but do enjoy making, customizing and creating. They like to make things and sell them. Generation X was not as interested in using their hands, but that is changing as they have children interested in making things. The older stitchers is making things for their children and grandchildren, and are changing the types of designs they are working on – like more modern or more colorful designs so that their kids and grandkids will utilize these creations. We also know that on the average, a stitcher is not only involve in cross stitch and needlepoint but at least three or four other crafts, i.e. quilting, scrapbooking, sewing, tatting, crocheting and knitting. So we see more mixed medium, more blending of various techniques. Stitchery is making its presence known in the apparel and home dec arenas too. It is always an exciting time to be involved in the needlework industry.
Q: I’m conscious that there isn’t a huge amount of variety of floss manufacturing in the UK , but that there are more independent manufacturers in the US . Obviously you can’t necessarily comment on the UK scene, but I wondered whether you felt that the independent makers in the US were on the decline..?
A: I am actually seeing an increase of choices on the market in all areas here in the US. A lot of people look for very niche-type threads to make their stitchery stand out. Creativity right now is about that customization. Some of the companies are small, but they have a following.
Dena Lenham, aka KreinikGirl, is Creative Director at Kreinik Manufacturing Company, a family-owned, USA-based business that manufactures high-quality yarns and threads made of metallics, silks and real metals from their West Virginia factory.