We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Ann Freire and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly Ann, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I grew up within a small family business. My parents have owned a very successful bike store, Bike Tech, in Miami for 35 plus years! Strong work ethics and this nonstop, always push yourself, stick your neck out mentality has been the driving force to Real Talk Cross Stitch. I knew when I opened this up I would have full freedom both creatively and in decision making. What’s better than doing whatever you want the way you want it. Sure, not all decisions are winning ones, but I love to know I’m pushing myself out of the comfort zone on my own terms. Owning your own business (whatever size) is no walk in the park, but knowing its yours is very rewarding. The more you put into it, the more you’ll get out.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Cross Stitching is such an old craft. Your grandmother and great grandmother did it. It’s been seen as this delicate, passive craft, but I wanted to bring out some real talk from it. So I started to do curse words, song lyrics, quotes, and other sassy remarks. My favorite thing when someone reads one of the quotes and says “Yes! Omg – this is exactly me or exactly how I feel.” I got my toes wet with simple stitches and then my best friend bought me the Stitch People portrait book. It showed me how I can stitch portraits, which is so fun to do. Really capturing my customers quirks and details is a great challenge. I want them to see it and have no doubt it’s them. The most proud and exciting part of my business/craft is the relatability and interest it brings. I love going to markets and getting a huge range of customers. One’s that say “wow my mom used to do this – this brings back memories” to “what is this? is it hand stitched? I’d love to try it”. So, I really like that cross stitch (and all needle work) is becoming trendy again. I’ve begun to sell DIY kits. The kits include all you need to complete a cross stitch – from start to finish. It makes me so happy to see people want to learn. I had a customer tell me how therapeutic it was for her and it made me really happy that my kit could bring that to her. I got to where I’m at by stepping out. I constantly tell those who want to start up their own business, it will only happen when you make it happen. You have to just start. It wasn’t easy as far as things didn’t just magically come together. I didn’t have any great life changing challenges either, though. Have I had a “no sale” market – Yes. Have I lost sleep? Lost money? Second guessed myself? Yes. But, what I’ve learned is you make notes from those things and readjust then keep going. I want everyone to know – you can do it. There is a community and a market for your craft/art/business idea. If you have a passion for it and put the work in – it will blossom
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love a good Miami morning. I am a avid cyclist and wake up at the crack of dawn, but it’s always worth it when you see a Miami sunrise. I’d encourage any visitor to wake up early and go to Key Biscayne and enjoy a walk over the Rickenbacker to see the beautiful skyline with a crisp sunny morning. You can walk on the beach too! Rent a paddle board and enjoy the calm water there. After that head over to Rosetta Bakery in Brickell to get an Avocado Toast and coffee – perfect morning. The beer scene is continuing to get better and better in Miami. A favorite is Lincoln Beard in Westchester. They have a great selection along with good entertainment like karaoke, live music, and trivia. Tacos and Tattoo is a permanent food truck there – delicious food. A few other Miami staples for food that I would recommend are Flanigans, The Big Cheese, and Sports Grill. Those are just good Miami spots.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am only able to stand up straight with these three strong characters: My mom, my husband, and my best friend. Each of them have played a huge role in not only my business, but my life. My mom, Joyce, is the root of who I am – she is so talented and intelligent, I am very thankful to share the same DNA as her. She is the one who taught me how to stitch, how to be crafty, and how to be passionately myself in this. She supported me from day one. If you come to a market, my mom will 9 out of 10 times be there. You might not see her at first, but you’ll definitely hear her. She’s normally yelling “My daughter made all of these! Aren’t they great!” My husband, Michael, is so supportive. He never questions if I should – he’s constantly telling me to go for it. The smallest actions from him are the most powerful. Michael happily delivering packages to USPS, helps me with taking photos, brings me snacks and keeps me hydrated at events, and checks up on me when I’m stitching at 2am. My best friend, Rachel. I constantly call her my CFO because the amount of text messages, photos, emails, and other forms of methods of contact that I send to her…she should be on my payroll. She’s has been so positive and kind with everything I do in this business. I know I can ask her the smallest of questions, like “Do you think these colors look good together?” and she’s going to put everything down and answer me with full sincerity. We constantly bounce ideas back and forth, discuss highs and lows, and most importantly enjoy each others friendship. I truly want to say the biggest THANK YOU to these three. They are so important to me.
John Stephan – @PhotosByJohnP