While many spent quarantine bingeing Netflix, Emily Graupmann was busier than ever single handedly starting her own business. In a span of just under four months, Graupmann, a sophomore at Concordia College, went from embroidering tee shirts for her friends to selling her designs in collaboration with a clothing store in Minneapolis.
Directly before the start of this year’s fall semester, Graupmann’s designs were featured in a pop up shop with Parc Boutique, a shop that sells minimalist clothing. From Aug. 18 to Aug. 22 she met with new customers there, even doing on-the-spot custom embroidery for people who brought in their own clothing items. By the end of that time, just seven out of 53 sweatshirts were left in her inventory.
Parc Boutique was Graupmann’s first time working with a retailer. Those four days gave her exposure and helped sell her product quickly. Parc also gave her a new customer base on Instagram.
Amassing just over 1,300 followers on her Instagram page, @Embroidersclothing, Graupmann’s feed is filled with her designs, photos of satisfied customers and business collaborations. Created at the end of April, @Embriodersclothing was, and still is, the place to see, buy and browse her clothing. Personalized hats, pillows, sweatshirts and even baby onesies are highlighted with her designs.
Behind the scenes, Graupmann worked every day to build her business. Before starting a full-time job in late June, she embroidered around the clock. “I would get up at 8 am and I would stop around midnight or 1 a.m.” said Graupmann. After starting full time employment, she would get home from work and continue embroidering, sometimes until 11 p.m.
Graupmann was taught how to embroider by her grandmother in the early stages of quarantine. Initially, embroidering was a fun new artistic hobby for her. “Ever since I was little I’ve loved painting and any kind of art project,” said Graupmann. At first, she wanted to continue that passion for painting and create greeting cards. However, it became apparent there was a growing interest in her embroidery.
Not long after picking it up, Graupmann was asked to start making pieces for her family and close friends. It was around this time that Molly Wilde, Graupmann’s close friend and roommate, asked her about plans to capitalize on her talents.
“I was telling her, ‘this would be super good, I think a lot of people would be interested,’” said Wilde.
Similar to Wilde, Graupmann’s boyfriend, Taylor Devine, was not surprised by her successes.
“No doubts in my mind that she would make it bigger than anyone would think,” said Devine.
Both Wilde and Devine agree on another thing: Graupmann remains very passionate about her embroidery.
“Our friends came over a couple weeks ago and they were asking her about it,” said Wilde. “It’s just so cool how her face lights up and how passionate and excited she is about it.”
Devine gave similar remarks, noting her positivity and optimism.
“I think the most amazing thing to me is that she is never complaining or dreading her work, she always has a smile on her face,” he said.
These days, Graupmann is still hard at work, embroidering between classes and on study breaks. As she slowly builds up her inventory, her next step is launching an online store.
Right now, she is pursuing a degree in nursing, but still has a desire to continue her embroidery. “A dream of mine would be to have my own shop,” said Graupmann.
Looking forward, she has every intention to keep her business going, but isn’t worried about the long-term future.
“I’m just trusting in the Lord and taking it one day at a time, we’ll see where it takes me,” she said.