Who better than to kick off my Raleigh Story Project than one of my favorite Raleigh artists/businesses, Holly Aiken! All the women in my family carry her bags and we always get a kick out of someone around town casually saying “I like your Holly!” I am a sucker for several of her designs and always love the colors she puts together in her work. The bags she designs and constructs are simple, clean lines made with durable, no fuss products.
Holly has been making and selling bags for ten years here in Raleigh and now in several other cities and states. Her store “Stitch” has been located on the corner of Hargett and Wilmington in the heart of downtown Raleigh for the past 4 years. It is amazing how perfect this space is for her. Downstairs the shop has amazing windows for displays and gorgeous light pouring through. Upstairs Holly has space for supplies, work tables, a sewing station, a desk and a great spot for her sweet dog Rey to take a nap.
We started upstairs where Holly and her assistant Whitney were working on a custom ordered bag. I loved getting to see the process from beginning to end…
Whitney gathering all the pieces needed to put the bag together…
The pieces make their way to Holly and I marvel at how she must be able to do this part in her sleep now that she has made so many bags with this beautiful dot and swirling stitch design. Like the work she creates, Holly is down to earth, straight forward and authentic, which I love.
I asked Holly if she had any advice for people wanting to start their own business and I could not agree more with her answer– you have to love what you do!! She is so right- the work and sacrifice you have to put into starting a business can only be worth it if you truly love what you do.
After Holly finished the custom order we went downstairs so that she could change out the window displays. You can visit her store to shop when you are in Raleigh, or you can always shop from her website. I don’t think you can beat walking into her store and falling in love with everything in there!
This space is so perfect for Stitch… one of my favorite parts is the old “Ladies Shop” paint. I hope it never fades away!
Holly explained to me that Rey is the true star of the shop… this was quickly proven by the two people that stopped by within 5 minutes of each other offering Rey dog treats and lunch leftovers of fried chicken. Rey’s got it good.
When I asked Holly about being a business in Raleigh she shared the following with me:
“Raleigh is really changing and growing. I feel there is a new interest in downtown which has created more foot traffic. I have created a location where customers can come buy something that is uniquely Raleigh. All our products are built at our shop. We recently had 2 pieces from our line selected as a part of a permanent collection at the North Carolina Museum of History.“
NC Museum of history status?! WOW!
When it comes to Stitch’s location, Holly has one of the best seats in downtown Raleigh. This is never more clear than on First Friday when part of her block gets shut down for local vendors to set up booths and people to pour in and out of bars and restaurants close by. You should sign up to be on Stitch’s mailing list- it will let you know when sales and events are happening! You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter.
See? Rey has fans of all ages.
First Friday + free beer + awesome bags on sale = really happy people
So if you are looking for a gift that is truly “Raleigh”– a bag (so many shapes, colors, patterns and sizes to choose from), wallet, coasters, iPad case, etc– you must visit Stitch!
Holly, thank you so much for allowing me into your shop and studio to tell your story! Saving up to make my next purchase from you