What makes Pick Up Every Stitch in Mount Kisco, NY so welcoming?
It starts with the owner! Felicia Lonigro comes from the garment center in NYC where she managed amazing clothing brands. Knowing how the garment industry functioned gave Felicia a strong foundation for opening Pick Up Every Stitch, a delicious yarn shop in the heart of Mount Kisco, New York. She finds that smaller yarn farms and indie dyers can really expand beyond their website sales through shops like Felicia’s independent yarn shop where her customers can not get enough of her curated offerings for all their fiber projects!
Yarn is a product we fiber artists love to touch and a personal recommendation from our local yarn shop owner or the knitting/crochet group at the table in the back of the store is a great way to discover new products or get confirmation of something we see on Instagram, Ravelry or Pinterest.
It all started at Bloomingdales
Felicia has been an entrepreneur since her days working the floor at Bloomingdales during college. She was attending Briarcliff College and working student hours at the local Bloomingdales. Briarcliff College got purchased by Pace and as Felicia was evaluating a different college option, she was invited into the executive training program for Bloomingdales by the store manager. This is when Felicia realized the best school for her was on the job and so she left the traditional college path for the hands-on executive training Bloomingdales was well known for. “It was a life-changing position and from there I was invited to work at the Garment Center on great brands like Carol Little for Saint Tropez and Ellen Tracy. I just loved it and from there I found a partner and we opened our own independent show room representing young contemporary and high-end designers.” Felicia loved the intimacy of the relationships with the designers and the independent clothing shops she sold to. “You knew everyone and how their sales are flowing, unlike the bureaucracy of the larger organizations.” You now see this same intimate relationship flowing between yarn options and knitters coming through Felicia’s shop door in Mount Kisco.
Becoming addicted to knitting
How did you go from the garment industry to becoming a knitting addict?
By the late 90’s, the clothing industry had changed, and “I completely shifted gears and took time out for me. I decided to pick up knitting and started hanging out quite a bit at the local yarn shop in Katona. They were looking for somebody to work in the store and I knew I would be there anyway so why not work there. I started working Thursday afternoons and that was my entry into the yarn shop business.”
Your first knitting project?
“My first knitting project was a black bag that my grandmother taught me to knit. It had a hot pink lining!” From her youth, Felicia would pick up her needles every now and then, but nothing major until she decided to close her business in New York. “I decided I wanted to learn the right way to knit and finish my garment so that it did not look homemade, but beautifully handmade. So, I started taking classes. I took whatever classes I could and I went on a knitting retreat to Chatham.”
The birth of Pick Up Every Stitch
When the Katona yarn shop closed, Felicia knew she had to open a shop of her own and immediately started looking for spaces to open a new shop. “There just had to be a local yarn shop option instead of having to go all the way into New York City. If you went t
hat far to look for yarn, you felt obligated to buy something. I wanted a place for folks to just come hang and knit.” And that is exactly the atmosphere of Pick Up Every Stitch. Come shop when you need something, otherwise, come hang and enjoy the friendship of other crochet and knitting companions. There are two tables in the shop and they are always buzzing with laughter and chatter with women and men that come often as well as newbies like me that just showed up one day because my friend Jacko said “we had to go!”
Felicia decided to create and build the yarn shop as a solopreneur. While she enjoyed having a partner in New York, she is enjoying running the shop completely through her own vision. When she sees something on social media or in a magazine, she researches it and then reaches out to the company directly.
She attributes the key to success running a yarn shop is knowing who the customer is that you are catering to. Know the taste of the area you are serving. The NYC woman is different from the Westchester woman from the Long Island woman. The shop needs to cater to their specific taste in color choices and styles. “Make sure you are doing this because you love the customer. It is not about you and if you feel like it is more about you and getting your knitting supplies for wholesale, then you are in it for the wrong reason.” advices Felicia.
Being a solopreneur is very liberating and challenging at the same time she admits. Her favorite part of her shop? The people. At this point in the interview, this dynamic, New York City toughened, garment professional gets teary eyed and has to pause. “Everyone has been so unbelievable. Everybody wants you to succeed and everybody wants to be part of this success. I just love Saturday afternoons here. Whenever you come in, you will see this table full of people that stopped by after the gym just hanging out for the rest of the day, knitting and socializing. I just feel so happy that I can provide this.” And as we are in the middle of the interview, one of Felicia’s patrons is leaving the shop. She comments to me as she opens the door to leave, “Felicia is so awesome! She has made a shop that is so warm and so loving! She is just the best. And everyone knows it.”
From 7 to 91 and everyone in between
New people discover Pick Up Every Stich all the time and are quickly adopted into the back-table discussions. The youngest fiber artist to date was a seven-year-old. One of Felicia’s teachers is actually a school teacher and is exceptional with their younger fiber artists. And the great part of fiber art is the breadth of ages that can participate and excel. Felicia’s oldest patron is currently a 91-years-old. There are also men and boys in the shop often. “Roger just left the shop, he comes in during the winter and is here almost every day during the cold season. Then we miss him in the summertime because he’s on the golf course. Little boys are really fun too. One little boy came in because he was learning to knit at school. He wanted to see “a Knitting shop” and went crazy over all the colors when he walked in.”
What is hot right now in the shop
Two yarns in particular stand out. Sandpiper Yarns by Sue Nagel and La Fee Fil. Both are handmade. Sue’s work is especially dear because she only makes three skeins that are the same at any one time. So, if you see something you like, you have to pick it up right then and there. The colors she puts together are so stunning and make each project an exceptional original. La Fee Fil knits up so beautifully and uniquely as well given the way they hand dye the yarn. The colors flow quite nicely
The secret to success at Pick Up Every Stitch
So, what is the Felecia’s secret to creating such a yummy culture and spot for us to discover yarn and fiber friends?
First and foremost, Felicia continually said how grateful she is for each and every day that folks come visit her in her shop. She takes the approach that Pick Up Every Stitch is an extension of her home, so she wants to be inviting. Felicia believes customer service is key regardless of having pointed needles in her hands… She has put together a knowledgeable staff who can expertly guide customers to the right yarns and tools for any project needs. And I can say first hand, she made sure I never felt invisible, but instead welcomed and several projects heavier when I left the store.
Felicia, is a world class human being. “Genuine” – Congratulations on this wonderful story and the reasons why brick/mortar is the soul the backbone of small town retail. Felicia is warm and engaging with impecible taste for color/texture – and patience is key – Felicia holds all those values and then some. Thus if you are a knitter and or you are curious to turn down the “noise” and fill hours of your free time with something new ….then enter Felicia’s world and make a friend for life – and embark on a new undertaking and with it a lifetime of pleasure.