Something about numbers just never jived with me. Don’t get me wrong: math is essential. The world needs math. All the same, I am happier leaving the pluses and minuses of my craft business in the more capable hands of others. If left to my own devices, my inventory, bookkeeping, and business contacts would all be on small pieces of paper floating around in a glamorous shoebox.
Fair enough, but as a craft business owner with only two hands, there is only so much I can tackle at once. There has to be an easier, more efficient way to run a craft business that goes beyond keeping tiny pieces of paper in a shoebox, right?
Enter San Francisco-based online inventory management company Stitch Labs. The staff of Stitch Labs are the shoemaker’s elves. They are the math nerds, the tech-savvy wunderkinds creating charts and crunching numbers while you sleep. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, it’s real. I promise!
Stitch Labs staff members Willo O'Brien, Jake Gasaway, and Brandon Levey (left) run their business out of this serene San Francisco courtyard filled with palm trees.
Stitch Labs offers craft business owners the tools they need to crunch numbers in one simple program:
• Manage your contacts, sales, product inventory, invoices, expenses, and even shipping labels all in one place.
• Easily keep track of all sales, whether through PayPal, consignment, trade shows or craft fairs. Selling in stores becomes easy with downloadable line sheets. I even quickly customized an inventory management system to keep track of the online sales at my IndieMade website.
• Export all invoices, payments, and expenses to QuickBooks for tax time.
What’s even more exciting? The Stitch Labs team is working on an iPhone/iPad app that will allow craft business owners to enter sales on the go. Imagine being able to keep track of all your numbers DURING a craft show!
I went to Stitch Labs’ San Francisco headquarters to meet with CEO Brandon Levey, Director of Business Development Jake Gasaway, and Marketing Director Willo O’Brien. We chatted about the ways Stitch Labs can help craft businesses, how the company started, and what keeps them inspired.
The team based their product on their own needs and experiences running craft businesses. CEO Brandon Levey has spent many hours in his garage screen printing T-shirts, working the trade show circuit, and getting a handle on that never-ending pile of paperwork. He knows firsthand about the passion that drives small business owners.
“If we can help you grow your business or operate your business at whatever level or size that you want, that’s really more our mission. The first sort of mantra we ever threw around, which we still stick to, is that we grow our business by helping you grow your business,” he says.
Brandon first imagined Stitch Labs in August 2008 while working at POOL Trade show in Las Vegas, promoting his T-shirt brand. He created his own program to keep track of inventory and sales and noticed that most vendors at the show were struggling with paperwork, spreadsheets, and keeping track of inventory.
The story of Stitch is just like the story of how many of us got started. The idea “died on the vine,” Brandon says, until February 2010, when he started kicking it around again. It wasn’t until May 2010 when Brandon’s friend Michelle Laham, now Stitch Labs’ creative director, flew to San Francisco to meet about Stitch, that the idea became a reality.
Following their brainstorming session, Brandon marked his calendar with the date when he’d leave his job, and Michelle marked hers with the date she’d move to California. They dove in headfirst and moved into an office that September. In November 2010 Jake Gasaway came on board, and in January 2011 Stitch Labs opened for business. Willo O’Brien officially joined the team in 2011.
One thing that stands out about Stitch as an inventory management system is the team’s attention to design. The website, designed by Michelle Laham, is not just user-friendly, but beautiful. But there’s more to an application than creating an aesthetically pleasing look, Jake notes. “You have to be able to maneuver through [the application] without really thinking so much about it. And she’s awesome at that.”
“The beauty of this system is that we have given people just enough customization,” Willo adds. “They can add a logo and do some things with their invoices, but for the most part, right out of the gate you are able to get beautiful invoices, beautiful packing slips.”
Along with super-simple way to organize all the details of your craft business, Stitch Labs offers incredible customer service. How do I know? I signed up for a 30-day free trial in the hopes of finally finding a way to nurture the pluses and minuses of my own business. Read on for my experiences using this tool for the first time.