Anne Powell began her professional life as a primary school
teacher in rural NC; her first students were children of tenant
farmers and a typical day's routine might include cooking lunches,
giving hair cuts and whatever else needed doing. She later taught
in an affluent suburb of Baltimore, recalling, "It was quite
a culture shock. Since teachers were scarce after WWII, classrooms
were very large - never less than 40 children... maximum was
As most women of her generation, once Anne had children, she
was a "stay at home" mom. She found it very satisfying
and the rewards, many. When she could find time, she would indulge
in her numerous hobbies: reading, gardening, cooking and antiques.
Anne engaged in stitching but states, "I don't call needlework
a hobby as it has always been part of my life. Inspired &
encouraged by my talented mother, I learned early in life to
sew, knit & embroider. Needlework is productive, soothing...While
you are stitching, you can...hold a conversation, dream, think,
plan, listen to music or watch TV. Doing two (or more) things
at one time is bliss!"
In 1975, Anne purchased a Danish kit. She remarks, "Since
no one informed me that 'linen is HARD to work on' I completed
the sampler in no time." It was the year before the Bicentennial
and Anne decided to design a sampler to commemorate the occasion.
Receiving compliments and offers to buy her design, a business
was born! At the time Anne had NO experience in business or merchandising,
but she did place an ad for her design kit in House Beautiful. She received inquiries from several shops and one informed her
of trade shows where she could exhibit. Obviously one design
was not enough, so she got to work! Anne had always been fascinated
by Victorian perforated paper samplers, "I love the traditional
mottoes and was sad to see how many of them were in poor condition,
with paper shredded & colors faded. This inspired me to adapt
this art to cross stitch on linen, knowing that the finished
samplers would last a lifetime & beyond. My first one, HOME
SWEET HOME, was designed in 1976, and is still popular as ever!"
While traveling, Anne discovered the fascinating world of
antique needlework tools. When she showed her "finds"to
other stitchers, the lament she heard time and again was, "Why
don't they make beautiful things like they used to!" Anne
saw potential in copying some of them. She elaborates, "Our
first reproduction was a sterling silver 'pinsafe,' which could
be worn on a chain or suspended from a chatelaine. We have expanded
to many other sewing tools, including thimbles, thimble holders,
needlecases, tape measures and even complete chatelaines. All
are made of genuine sterling silver and some are even produced
in 14K gold." Asked about the process involved in having
reproductions made, Anne jests, "Having our beautiful silver
and gold reproductions made was easy! Only 'blood, sweat &
tears' and lots of perspiration instead of inspiration!"
Anne is definitely no stranger to inspiration, "I do see
things every day that give me ideas and then I try to pursue
them." She seeks out skilled artisans and confers with them
about what she wants made.
first full time employee, Rosemarie Ferry, somehow just, "walked
into her life" and stayed with her for 14 years. Having
never stitched before, by the time Rosemarie retired, she was
an expert and passionate cross stitcher. Amazingly, Anne operates
her business out of an office, still assisted by only one full
time employee of eight years, Rosemarie Moschetti. There's no
question that Anne inspires loyalty in her staff. She accomplishes
so much because she is a self-admitted "workaholic"
and we already know her MO of doing two or more things at once.
She increases productivity by working with the best outside "support"
teams she can find and then staying with them (graphics firm,
computer support, webmaster, etc.). She also has willing volunteers
in her "equally busy and wonderful" family - her husband
(retired) and four grown children, with families and careers
of their own. They form a vital back-up team when Anne requires
advice or help and provide her with plenty of moral support.
Anne is the R & D Dept., guided by her own intuition
and aesthetic, "I only make things that I like, that are
classic, and that people will want to use & keep forever!
My customers seem to agree." When considering a new product,
price is not the primary factor; it is quality and value that
Anne insists upon. Apropos to this, she learned this lesson early
in life, "I was taught by my wonderful mother that it is
better to own one outstanding item which you can keep forever,
rather than 100 inferior things which lose luster as soon as
you get them home."
the world shrinking by computers, fax machines and e mail, it
has become possible for Anne to comb the world for other wonderful
needlework related tools & gifts. She imports only the best
of what she uncovers: Solingen scissors from Germany; Limoges
thimbles, needle and scissors cases from France, sterling silver
items from England and now directly from Russia, beautiful "folk
art" and high quality lacquer items. These include thimbles,
thimble holders and traditional boxes featuring needlework scenes
and motifs, many with mother-of-pearl inlay. All are absolutely
stunning and Anne can, with complete confidence, assure, "They
can no longer say, "why don't they make beautiful things
like they used to!'" Anne recently added yet another imaginative
"tool," called "Scissor Dolls," which are
available in many different styles and colors. Made up of a pair
of Russian dolls, they were intended as Christmas ornaments.
Anne envisioned them differently, a good example of what one
of her "brainstorms" can lead to! Currently, she is
in the process of having "papier mache" buttons designed
which feature various scenes, animals and fairy tales. And besides
all this, Anne also sells rare and authentic antique sewing tools,
many of which are truly "one-of-a-kind" pieces. She
elaborates, "Our collectors tell us that they love getting
one of our lists [of antique tools]...they get a cup of tea or
a glass of wine, sit down in an armchair and start dreaming.
And then our phone starts ringing!"
Anne is always on the look-out for items to offer which are
produced in the Good Ole U.S.A. She carries Simmons Bros. sterling
silver & gold thimbles and recently added a beautiful southwestern
design scissors sheath inlaid with lapis, turquoise or amethyst,
together with a companion handmade matching thimble. Soon to
be debuted is a new "Millennium Thimble." Anne enthuses,
"Nothing is too good for our customers...This new century
promises to be even more exciting!"
Anne ruefully admits, "I don't have too much time for
stitching, but intend to do more of that in the future. I do
my own designing, and again I like the classic look and insist
on the best quality linen and floss. As Robert Louis Stevenson
said in one his poems, and which I stitched on a baby sampler
when my 1st grandchild was born "Life is so full of a number
of things, I am sure we should all be as happy as Kings!'"
Anne completely concurs and would add just two more words to
that quote, "or Queens."
For more information contact:
Anne Powell Ltd.
Stuart, FL 34995-3060
phone: (561) 287- 3007 or for orders only (800) 622-2646
fax: (561) 287- 3007
e mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
hours: 9 am to 4 pm Mon. to Fri. At all other times, you can
leave a message or send a fax.
Anne Powell Ltd. sells to both the wholesale and retail markets,
through their catalog and on their website. There is a $5.00
charge for the catalog, but it comes free when placing an order.
You can subscribe to a listing, accompanied by color photographs,
of their current stock of one-of-a-kind antique needlework tools
for $10.00. (It is mailed out four or five times a year.) Collectors
may also find their selection of books on antique tools of interest.
Another of Anne's sampler mottoes reads, "Knowledge is Power."