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November 19, 2021
“Not a lot of people see behind the scenes of @madebyxtine, all my pieces are developed during the really late hours of the night.”
1. What inspired you to start hand stitching sneaker art and accessories and create a business?
It started as a result of quarantine in March 2020. At the time, I was specifically into knitting or crocheting but instead, I came across an embroidery kit on Amazon. As a kid I actually remember fixing holes or rips in either clothes or stuffed animals with a needle and thread that I found in my mom’s sewing stash. Granted it was not good at all, but I knew hand embroidery was something I could learn pretty quickly so I went ahead and ordered the kit anyway. I made a few pieces and decided to make a separate Instagram just for the art that I was creating, and that’s how it all began.
2. Tell us about your love for sneakers?
My journey with sneakers started early on. Being from Chicago, my dad is a really big Michael Jordan fan and he used to collect sneakers. He was the biggest sneakerhead I knew even before being a sneakerhead was a thing. A little over 10 years ago while I was in college, I worked at Finish Line (my dream job at the time) and that’s when I started buying more pairs; I suppose that was when my ‘love’ for sneakers really grew. Over time, it’s been very exciting to see how the sneaker industry has evolved. It’s definitely different now, but regardless if you’ve been in the game for a decade or are brand new to it, every ‘sneakerhead’ has a favorite sneaker and their own story why– and I find that so wholesome. My favourite pair would be the Cement 3s. They will always have a place in my heart as they were the first pair I bought with my own money and 10 years later I still wear them. My other favorites are Bred 11s and Shattered Backboards.
3. What has been your biggest challenge with this venture?
I would say the biggest challenge would be having the time to do all of it. I work full time at a marketing and advertising agency– there are late nights, early mornings, and many times no breaks. Not a lot of people see behind the scenes of @madebyxtine but all my pieces are developed during the really late hours. During the week I’ll wake up at 8 am for work and sometimes won’t log off till 11 pm, leaving me to embroider or sketch new designs between midnight till 4 or 5am. I then repeat it throughout the rest of the week. I’ve experienced really tough burnout and was mentally and physically exhausted but I’ve learned to create more boundaries, set my pace to what I’m comfortable with, and prioritize inner peace and happiness. It’s all a learning experience though and I’m proud with how far I’ve come.
4. How long does it take to create a piece of artwork?
It really depends on the size of the piece and how intricate the design is, I would say it would take me anywhere from 8 hours to over 24 hours collectively. As much as I would love to do it in one go or in one day, I do have to spread it out as I’m doing it entirely by hand and during off hours, so it takes weeks or even months to complete.
5. Have you ever considered pivoting just towards the printed totes or do you feel your brand DNA must include hand-embroidery?
I’m open to all ideas; the totes were also a random idea but producing the totes in bulk was definitely a positive move just because I got great feedback and it sold out. The first one called ‘Juicy’ sold out immediately after a few restocks. The T-shirts and sweatshirts are machine embroidered so I am able to produce these in bulk. My brand has evolved, but I don’t think I’ll ever completely pivot away from hand embroidery as it is something I truly grew a love and passion for.
6. Do you know the customers for your tote bags?
I think it depends on the design. I’ve created two different designs for the tote bags, the first one is called Juicy and it features the Air Jordan 1 Retro High Shattered backboards with orange and lemons in the background. The Tote comes in a yellow colour way and a blue colour way so I’ve noticed more men gravitate towards that one compared to the newer totes I have, called Sakura. The Sakura tote incorporates Air Jordan 1 Retro High OG “Chicago” with cherry blossoms in the back and comes in blue, purple and pink, and more women gravitate towards those. I was actually surprised to see how many guys rock these totes! But nonetheless, these totes and all my products are meant for all types of people to enjoy!
7. Do you see most of your sales via online channels or more pop ups?
Both. I haven’t done many so far but I love doing pop ups; I think it’s a great way to meet people and be present within the community. Each one has been successful and been a ton of fun. I’m based in the Chicago area, and I thought most of my online sales would be from here, but many are from California, Seattle and New York. The best part of social media is you can reach a lot more people both near and/or thousands of miles away. I’ve gotten orders from New Zealand and Guam, and honestly I never thought I would get past the Midwest!
8. Do you have a dream collaboration?
Yes! Definitely collaborating with Jordan and/or Nike is something that I would love to see in the future if that’s ever possible. I am also a really big fan of Kanye West so working with Kanye or the Yeezy brand would be an absolute dream. Lastly, I would love to work with the Chicago Bulls one day.
9. What are your future plans with @madebyxtine?
I have many goals I want to meet, and that includes creating more artwork and creating more ownable products. For now, I’m enjoying the journey day by day and am always open minded to any new and fresh ideas that come my way.