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Syracuse resident Ciarah Richardson bought a sewing machine in January 2020. Little did she know the COVID-19 pandemic would inspire her to relaunch her freelance embroidery business, All Things Plush.
Shortly after buying her sewing machine and adapting to home ordering in March, Richardson set up the online lifestyle and beauty store, which sells embroidery and sewing designs. Richardson’s business currently operates out of her home in Syracuse, where she handles all of the company’s responsibilities on her own.
“I have a 7-year-old son who looks up to me,” Richardson said. “I really want to be someone who shows him that anything is possible as long as you put your hard work into it.”
Since launching her business, Richardson has sold a wide range of products, such as masks, sweatshirts, jackets and bags. She has collaborated with customers for individual orders and bulk orders, while shipping nationwide.
Richardson got the idea for the company when she saw Governor Andrew Cuomo early in the pandemic encouraging companies to sell masks. She started embroidering masks and publicizing them through her social networks.
The inspiration behind the embroidery came from Richardson’s great-grandmother, who was a seamstress and hatter in Syracuse. Richardson was apprenticed to her great-grandmother as a young girl.
She continued to learn the craft by taking a fashion class at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, where she worked with an embroidery machine. And while attending Onondaga Community College, Richardson learned his entrepreneurial skills, earning his associate’s degree in 2011.
“My main goal is to bring (clients’) vision to life and see their mark on something,” Richardson said. “So that’s every type of customer you can think of.”
Lots of people come to her with their logos for branded products, Richardson said, and she’s able to embroider the items by scanning them using software called Embrilliance, which helps transform artwork and images. into an embroidery design.
When Richardson starts an order, she checks if the customer wants her own item embroidered or if she will supply the merchandise that will be embroidered. She then focuses on scanning, which she will do either with her own software or with a company in Thailand, and assembles samples for the client to approve. After the embroidered product is finished, she ships the package or provides curbside pickup to her customers.
Running a business independently can make it difficult to manage all the responsibilities, Richardson said. Balancing work and personal life is a lot for her, but Richardson said she has incredible supporters such as her younger sister, Deesha. The two often exchange ideas for each other’s businesses. Her sister has a business called Glow By Deesha, located in North Carolina.
“I definitely have a great support system, but I’m currently a one-man team with a sewing machine,” Richardson said.
Buffalo business owner La’Jon Chandler reached out to Richardson to design reusable party bags as merchandise for her company, Party in a Box, which creates different types of boxes containing activities for birthday parties or events.
The two worked together and created two color schemes for a logo for the party bags. Chandler appreciated that Richardson got back to him in a short time and was thorough throughout the process.
“It wasn’t like I had to search for everything,” Chandler said. “She was able to do everything I needed.”
Another client, Natasha Oates, has partnered with Richardson to create products for her Syracuse-based women’s empowerment group, Females That Persevere. The group is made up of black nurses who advocate for patient education and for community education through volunteer work.
Oates wanted a logo his daughter had designed to be embroidered on jackets. She said embroidery is becoming popular at the moment, especially for healthcare workers and nurses, as they want everything labeled to prevent items from being taken or misplaced. She reached out to Richardson knowing she wanted to support black women and her startup business.
Richardson hopes his business will grow post-pandemic. Despite this, she understands that the current crisis has put a strain on people’s financial situation.
“I really want to inspire people,” Richardson said. “I want to take the visions of people, whether artists or entrepreneurs, and present them to the world.”
Published on February 7, 2021 at 10:39 p.m.