Jumping Through Hoops

Husband-and-wife team James Urbanoski and Michelle Wood, of Carlsbad, CA, like to keep busy. They take their mobile business, Threadneedle Embroidery, from horse show to horse show, following the Southern California equine circuit nearly 42 weeks out of the year.

Certain weeks are busier than others, however. A few times a year, Threadneedle will take on large orders like completing 150 custom jacket backs, with stitch counts as high as 35,000, over a weekend. Even with the help of a temporary worker, it’s a lot of volume to slog through. “Any other embroiderer would think that we were absolutely insane,” Wood says. But, “At the end of the show, the cash register looks really nice. … Sometimes you have to work harder for your money than other times.”

Threadneedle, started a quarter-century ago by Wood’s parents, serves the English riding, hunter-jumper, dressage and sport horse communities, sewing logos on jackets, hats, saddle pads, blankets and more. “They’re addicted to embroidery,” Wood says of her clientele. “It’s fantastic.” Though the work requires some specialized knowledge, like techniques for working with thick saddle pads, it’s not too different from other niches, Urbanoski says. “Big picture, they’re a sports team like any other,” he says of riders.

Wood says the secret of their success is treating clients like stars, whether or not they happen to be famous – not such an unusual occurrence when you service a high-priced hobby in SoCal. “I want to treat everyone the same,” she adds. “I think they get that. … I spoil my customers terribly.” That spoiling, which includes a commitment to next-day service whenever possible, has made for a lot of repeat clients, plus plenty of referrals, the couple says.

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