This duo’s west brighton business offers personalized home accents— from pillows and blankets to door accessories
by JENNIFER VIKSE
Carolyn Aston-Reese and Nancy Nix make a formidable team. Years ago, with young children in tow, the two knew they wanted to work, but also desired a home/work/life balance.
“We are both pretty creative,” noted Nix. “And I loved the idea of taking control of our time and work lives.”
So, the friends put their minds together and created a line of custom outdoor furniture for kids.
“We actually started working with our kids’ outdoor furniture—picnic tables, Adirondack chairs—and painted cool designs on them,” she recalled.
As it happened, FAO Schwarz was interested in what they were doing and the partners sold them the concept. When FAO closed its doors, Aston-Reese and Nix had an opportunity to resurrect the business, but found it difficult to retail tables on their own.
“At the end of that, we started making pillows to go on chairs and cushions for the picnic tables,” Nix explained. “We got our hands on a commercial embroidery machine, and fell in love with the whole idea of personalization and monogramming.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
In 2013, with children in their teens and early 20s, the pair opened Wicked Stitches on Castleton Avenue—specializing in custom gift items and personalized embroidery for new babies, brides, and birthdays—embroidering on bibs, pillows, towels, blankets, backpacks, items for sports teams, and promotional products for businesses. The custom embroiderers and gifting experts were soon given the Staten Island Chamber of Commerce’s Louis R. Miller Award, and expanded to a second storefront. The bigger showroom has allowed them to show off more wares, from bridal gifts to baby gifts to hoodies to home décor (including pillows, table runners, door hangers, and blankets).
The shop keeps the pair busy year round, with Christmas, Mother’s Day, and St. Patrick’s Day their busiest seasons. The last’s parade draws a crowd for Wicked Stitches’ now-famous “neighborhoodies” that promote just about every neighborhood on Staten Island, giving residents a chance to show off their hometown pride.
“It really doesn’t get old,” Nix said of her efforts. “It’s very exciting to be part of people’s lives.”
Ironically, the success of the business has cut into that sought-after work/life balance that drove the women to open in the first place.
“It’s very rewarding. Both of us are very hardworking and very ambitious, which is great, but I don’t get to see the family as much as I used to,” said Aston-Reese.
“Having the store and expanding it, we’ve enjoyed a lot of growth,” Nix said. “So the whole life/work balance isn’t really working out [laughs].”
840 Castleton Avenue / 718.420.0240