It is an exciting year for us at Estelle Designs and Sales Limited, as we are celebrating 40 years of business! Our business has grown, and we have watched the industry evolve, but no one has seen these changes take place more so than the founder of Estelle Designs- Mrs. Iris Peacock.
We sat down with Mrs. Peacock to have a chat about the past 40 years at Estelle Designs, and are happy to share some of that conversation with you here today.
What inspired you to start Estelle Designs?
I had the opportunity to work on proofing embroidery samples for a major company, and this sparked my interest.
Did you have any experience in the textile/handcraft industry before starting Estelle Designs?
Not exactly, but I was up for the challenge. My love of handwork, design and colour has been with me from a very early age. I studied at Harrogate School of Art, and one of the courses was the history of embroidery. We made samplers of all the different stitches, and I really enjoyed it!
Where does the name Estelle come from?
Estelle is a name my parents gave to me- it’s my middle name!
Tell us about the early days of the business. Where did you operate out of? How long was it before you hired staff?
I operated the business out of my home in the beginning, and our son Philip was involved- Estelle has always been a family business. The Estelle line of stitchery grew, and we were noticed by a major company and received a very large order- this is what put us on the map!
Estelle Designs is a family business, and you have four children. How have they been involved in the business over the years?
We rented a warehouse in the East end of Toronto, which Chris was in charge of. Our daughter visited yarn shops across Ontario, and our son John moved to the west coast and began covering that area for us. To the areas of the country that we simply couldn’t get to, we sent samples out to our limited number of sales reps.
Today, Chris and John are still very active in the business, but my son Phillip and my daughter have gone on to do other things.
You haven’t always sold knitting supplies. How did the transition from needlepoint to knitting supplies take place?
When stitchery started to take a downturn, we decided to explore the yarn industry. After receiving favourable results, we took the plunge and I said to my husband, “I think that we are on to something!”
What is your favourite part about running the business?
I love meeting our customers, and I loved travelling around Ontario, selling.
Do you still knit or do needlepoint? And if so, what are you working on these days?
No, those days are behind me now.
How are you involved in the business today?
I am still president! However, I am not often found at the office these days- I like to sleep in!
How have you seen the handcraft industry evolve over the years?
It has changed so much! When we first entered the industry, there was a trade show where we would show our products to potential customers, but that show no longer exists.
Women are working outside the home now, and young ladies are knitting on their way to work. Their interests involve smaller, portable projects. Yarn fits this need, and it can be picked up at any moment. So many young people are knitting!
Looking back over the past 40 years, what is your fondest memory of the business that you have grown? And what are you most proud of?
I am so proud that we are still here! I have been extremely fortunate to have the family that I do. We could not have reached 40 years without the support and guidance of Philip, my husband, and the loyalty of all our family and friends. There have been difficult times, but we are Yorkshire people who “stick with it”, and we are so grateful that in some small way, we have been able to give back. Thank you to all our wonderful customers.
And thank YOU Mrs. Peacock, for taking the time to speak with us today. Congratulations on 40 years of success in the industry!