Zoe Frost, owner of Junebug and Darlin, has a message for aspiring entrepreneurs in the LGBTQ+ small business community: Make your business as unique as you!
Frost conceptualized the idea of Junebug and Darlin, a modern cross-stitch kit and crafting company, in 2015 when she quit her job and moved with her partner to Portland, Oregon. Frost was ready for a new start and wanted to include her love of drawing in her next endeavor. After teaching herself to cross-stitch, she knew it was the start of something special.
“I realized this craft had so much potential,” said Frost. “I didn’t love the patterns that were out there for purchase so I decided to draw my own — and that’s how Junebug and Darlin was created!”
Founded in 2017, Junebug and Darlin “sells cross-stitch kits that are 100% handmade and provide all of the supplies needed for people to create a finished cross-stitch from first stitch to frame,” explained Frost.
[Read more: How to Become a Certified LGBT Business]
Crafting inclusivity, one stitch at a time
Frost identifies as a queer femme, and she felt staying true to herself would set her business up for success. She began creating cross-stitch patterns that embodied inclusivity.
“I didn’t want to pander or tone myself down for other people,” she said. “…as I was currently living in a small conservative town myself, I knew there were other queer folks like me in similar towns that needed to feel represented.”
In fact, it’s my customers that have kept me going through the many challenges I have faced as a small business owner.
Zoe Frost, owner, Junebug and Darlin
Junebug and Darlin now provides dozens of inclusive patterns that customers can stitch in their own homes.
“Most of the messages I receive on Messenger are positive notes on how my patterns have impacted my customers in a personal way,” said Frost.
Overcoming obstacles and finding a niche online
At first, Frost found difficulty in gaining a market for her business’ niche products. She turned to online tools to help her connect with her target audience, such as creating an e-commerce shop with products and talking to followers through messenger apps including Facebook and Instagram.
“A lot of my customers have never cross-stitched before, so I use the platform to share their progress and provide tips and tricks,” said Frost.
During the pandemic, Frost found unexpected challenges with supplier issues; however, Junebug and Darlin succeeded in other ways.
“I’ve had an influx of new customers that I wouldn’t have otherwise reached before last year and I’m truly grateful for that,” said Frost. “In fact, it’s my customers that have kept me going through the many challenges I have faced as a small business owner. Continue to work in your niche market and customers will be loyal to your small business if it speaks to them.”
[Read more: Looking for Diversity? How to Build a More Inclusive Small Business]
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Published June 28, 2021