OGDEN — On historic 24th street in downtown Ogden, in a building which has been in their family since the 1930s, Tina Herman and Teri Richards now have a thriving business which revolves around the antique craft of cross-stitching.
In 1984 the sisters remodeled and restored the building, which had housed a blacksmith shop for decades, to open a small retail shop called the Shepherd’s Bush. The business enabled them to share their love of the vintage stitchery which uses x-shaped stitches to create designs.
Named after a historic district in London where they would visit with their grandmother as children, Shepherd’s Bush has become their lifeblood.
“Our true love is cross-stitch,” said Richards, who described their work as the “rebirth of an old technique into a new art form.”
Almost three decades later, and their small shop now includes cross-stitch design, a wholesale shop, as well as Internet and mail orders.
“We have customers in England, Australia, France, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Abu Dhabi, and South Africa,” said Richards, 54.
She said that their clientele is extremely varied, ranging from young moms who are just learning to stitch to a 96-year-old woman who has been frequenting the store for years. Richards also said that about 10 percent of their customers are men.
“You can’t imagine the following that they have. People say they’ve come to the mecca of cross-stitch. People go out of their way by hundreds of miles just to come here. People love them,” said Lynnette Burgess, who Richards describes as their manager, sister, and right-hand lady who has worked at Shepherd’s Bush for 20 years.
“People will call and say, ‘I just have to tell you how stitching has changed my life. It has gotten me through so many rough times. It just brings me so much pleasure, so much happiness.’ It’s just that stitching is very soul satisfying. It’s much better than therapy,” Herman, 57, said.
The shop’s décor reflects the antique nature of the craft the women love so well.
Richards pointed out the original brick walls and chimneys that are now ornamented with hundreds of framed cross-stitch pieces, many of which the sisters personally designed.
The ceiling rafters are adorned with hanging baskets, dried flowers, and distinctive antiques.
Where there used to be a large door to accommodate vehicles entering the blacksmith shop, there are now display windows which showcase their stitched handiwork.
“It’s not just our business. It helps many people. A lot of local companies are our suppliers. We are committed to being partners with local companies,” Richards said.
Richards explained that their printer, finisher, and framer are local.
Using their preferred fabric of linen, and occasionally other fabrics, they use threads of silk, linen, wool, and cotton to create their artwork. Many of their thousands of available threads are hand-dyed, mostly from small suppliers in the U.S.
They also dye many of their own fabrics and ribbons to create the exact colors they desire.
Herman explained that her designs originate with a simple piece of graph paper and a pencil. She envisions a design, and then creates a pattern of tiny x’s to create the artwork. Her project is designed and redesigned through many hours of sketching, envisioning, and finally stitching of her designs.
“In my mind the design tells me what colors I’m using. I choose my colors and then I just start stitching. Lots of times I have to swap things out because things don’t look the way I wanted them to. I change it so much in the stitching process, both the colors and the design,” Herman said.
The women say that the store and its employees have become like family to them.
“The people that we work with have been just like sisters. We’ve seen each other through a gamut of things: from babies to illnesses to deaths of parents,” Herman said.
“Plus we have this camaraderie with other designers. We’ve become great friends (with our suppliers) even though they are spread all over the United States. I think it is an industry that people really support each other,” she added.