Stitching Steps: A small town Business with Big City Dreams

As a mother of a child with disabilities, actually two children, I have taken an interest in a recent in-home business, which was started up by a mother daughter team from my hometown.

First I would like to share my own personal story with you about children with special needs in my household. My son, around the age of 8, was diagnosed with Aspergers, a form of Autism. More recently, they changed all Autism diagnoses to just The Autism Spectrum, but he has the diagnosis none-the-less.  For him, things aren’t always as simple as they seem. What actions or thoughts may seem normal to one person, in my son’s eyes could be totally absurd and vice versa. He also has trouble with communicating with people and may come off as awkward. School work is also a struggle and A.D.D. decided to join in the fun and take a swing as well, making things even more troubling at times. With or without his struggles though, he is a great kid. He loves legos, bike races with the neighbor kids, the “big kid” version of cops and robbers (not sure what he calls it!), rock hunting with dad, catching snakes and frogs and bugs and plenty of other things that make him appear normal. He is normal, he just sees things from a different light at times which is great when it comes to getting a new perspective on things.

My other child with disabilities is my daughter. She just turned 7 this July and was diagnosed at the young age of 8 months with a super rare brain disorder, bi-lateral, closed lip schizencephaly. A shorthand version of what this means: during the time of development of the brain, most likely an air bubble traveled through the placenta taking place of where the brain matter should have developed which has lead to delays in many different areas. She also faces other issues that stem from the Schizencephaly including hip dysplasia and CP (cerebral palsy). Due to all of these different complications, she has attended physical therapy and occupational therapy since the age of 9 months. Parts of her brain that were affected have basically blacked any ability to reason, causing to a lot of heated discussions and stressful days, unfortunately. There is also the chance she may have seizures due to her diagnosis. This past spring, she was diagnosed with A.D.H.D. as well, so there’s a lot that goes on, on a daily basis.

I have struggled as a mother, I am young, just 23, but I use that as no excuse for the good/bad parenting habits I have displayed for my children. I have regrets, as most parents do, but life is a learning experience. These kids, along with my other daughter who just turned 7 last week and my toddling son who will be 2 in September, have all helped me develop into a better person. the have helped me see things from a different perspective, helped me feel things a different way, helped me smile when I was frowning, made me laugh when I had been crying. These 4 kids are my blessings, with or without a diagnosis. They were put on this earth to show me how to be a better person. To show me I can stop for a minute and smell the flowers instead of rushing to the next doctor appointment, that building a masterpiece out of blocks isn’t quite as much fun as destroying your work of art, that it is okay to make a mess and laugh and hug and smile and burp and fart and pee your pants a little. All of these reasons and so many more are why I live. I live for my kids.

Everyone faces challenges in life and the statement holds just as true for the creators of Stitching Steps.

Their motto: Helping babies, one stitch at a time.

Who are they: mother Jen & her daughter Erika

Their mission: We are making profits to help business’ or organizations fund research for childhood diseases, help provide equipment to families unable to afford them, provide for kids who aren’t fortunate to receive food on a regular basis. We have kids on our minds at all times.

stitching steps

Here is a bit of information about why Jen and Erika began Stitching Steps from the heart of Erika.

My name is Erika, I am currently living in Dubuque, Iowa and am a wife and a mother to Carter and Lukas. I was inspired to start my own small business when I walked the halls of two well known children’s hospital. My journey began 9 months ago when I was over due with what we thought was healthy baby. Soon after the birth of our second child, Lukas, we learned he had a rare condition known as VACTERL. Our journey started out by being separated. I stayed in Dubuque, my child was transferred over an hour away. While in the NICU we met many families who were in a different situation but shared many of the same feelings. We stayed at the Ronald McDonald House, and witnessed many low income families eating out of the provided pantry because they couldn’t afford to bring in their own groceries, we met a girl who has been living in the Ronald McDonald House for six years waiting for a heart transplant and unable to leave Iowa City, we even met a family who’s journey ended shortly after it began. That struck my heart close to home. I continued to wonder how I could help these struggling families out. My thoughts grew more serious after a trip to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital with my son. The walls seemed thin the day we were there as we listened to a physician tell a mom of a toddler, its not going to get better, he wont make it to kindergarten. This is exactly what I needed to put my thoughts into full gear. I need to do something to help physicians fund research that they need, I need to bring this girl in the Ronald McDonald Home a gift her family will never be able to afford, I need to bring good food so everyone can taste what life outside the hospital can be. Why embroidery? Well I was raised around it. My mother had a passion for sewing. She purchased an embroidery machine two years ago and has been using it as a hobby to make things for her grandchildren. I brought up this bright idea to sell pull over towel bibs. That was all we were going to do when we initially started. However, shortly after we ran out of bibs, my mom took off on her own doing everything from onesies to shirts to blankets and anything in between. Jen, the one behind the machine has been in embroidery for over 25 years. She recently retired from her position that was around sewing machines all day to help her children out with babysitting and focus on her health as she is battling Malignant Melanoma to her lower legs. We are both strong believers in faith and know we will get to our next journey with a little faith.

The business is based out of Remsen with Jen, but Erika commutes often and is able to take product back with her to Debuque and ship them from her location as well. Orders take about 2 weeks to be completed, but there are certain exceptions to items if it may need special fabric ordered, such as the  blankets, which may take up to 4 weeks.

They offer many different products with very decent prices.

  • Bibs: 1 for $6 3 for $15
  • Onesies: Basic Embroidery $15 Add a back design for $2
  • T-shirts: Basic Embroidery $15, Add a back for $2
  • Applique: $20-25 depending on size
  • Bandanas: $10
  • Diaper Covers: $10-15
  • Small Fleece Blanket: $20-25
  • Large Fleece Blanket: $25-35
  • Children’s Apron: $15
  • Towels (wrap around): $30
  • Taggies: $10

You are able to add any personalization to a bib, onesie, tshirt for $2. Only Carters or Gerbers brand onesies are used and they will let you know the brand prior to purchase. (Gerbers tend to run smaller.)
T-shirts are heavy quality. They may or may not have the color you request on hand, so if they need to order the color requested please allow a week to receive the product.

If the item is personalized, it is requested you pay ahead of time before  your order is started.

As far as shipping, they keep costs low. Their rule is, you pay whatever they pay at the post office, which keeps the prices low. The average cost is anywhere from $1.50-$4 depending on the size of the order and an added bonus, if you’re in the Remsen or Debuque area, shipping is free!

I am very honored to know Erika and Jen personally and for me, I feel they’re doing something amazing. This business they have created wasn’t out of greed, but to help those in need while doing what they love to do. I think that’s another reason it hits home with me; I run my blog because I want to share the money saving deals with everyone else, not for my own personal gain, but to know that people are out there saving an extra few dollars each week to do whatever they would like with it. And that’s what Stitching Steps is doing. They’re creating products to raise money to help sick children and their families.

If you’re interested in supporting their cause and would like to purchase some products, you may contact Stitching Steps by visiting their Facebook Page, send them an email to stitchingsteps@outlook.com, or reach Erika by phone at 563-580-3161.

They are making a difference in a child’s life, one stitch at a time. Will you help and  join the cause too?

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