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Meet Elizabeth Gerdes of Stitch Above The Rest in Woodstock

Today we’d like to introduce you to Elizabeth Gerdes.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Elizabeth. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
As the fourth oldest child of twelve, I grew up learning how to sew from my Mother. She would let me rummage through her scrap fabric piles and make whatever I wanted. I used the scraps to make doll clothing, doll bedding, stuffed animals, and sometimes my own clothing. It was so much fun figuring out what to make from whatever leftovers she had. I still remember the first time she allowed me to use her sewing machine. At the age of eight, I used it to make a quilt for my baby brother that was just born. I was so excited. A whole new world of creativity had opened up to me once I was allowed to actually use her sewing machine.

Fast forward to adult life, I went through the traditional college years, got a job and settled down. When my twin boys were born in 2001, they were ten weeks early. They needed a lot of medical care and full-time attention for the first few years of their life. Their little sister was born twenty months after them. By 2003, I had three kids under the age of three, two of which were not healthy enough to be left in day care. Needless to say, I never returned to the business world. Instead, I started making money by selling hand-made children’s bedding on eBay.

Having my eBay business allowed me to sew while the children slept, ship items directly from my home, and most importantly, make money while staying home with my kids. Eventually, my hand-made bedding got a lot of attention and word of mouth spread. I started making baby bedding for local customers, which turned into drapery customers, which eventually led to a full-fledged custom drapery workroom. By 2007, I was a full-time, self-employed Mother of three, running a business out of my home that was helping to support us.

As my business grew, I invested in a website, better photography, and upgraded machines. I found my niche in making custom handmade products, with great attention to detail, that fit the client’s needs, wants and desires all in one. I help my clients by designing their window treatments and then fabricate them to specifications and install them. I have an installer that I work with, but otherwise, every aspect of this business is me.

In the last ten years I have been recognized in numerous newspaper articles, trade and consumer magazines, and won many awards for my work. Just this year, I won Workroom of the Year 2017, which is the highest award given out in my industry. As my business continues to grow, I have started working with commercial businesses to improve their locations as well.

I believe the secret to my success is my customer service and quality products. I listen closely to my clients. I do my best to deliver on every promise I make. I pay close attention to the details on every project to ensure it is done accurately and professionally. If/when I make a mistake, I own up to it, and then do what I can to make it right. I know my clients are entrusting me with a lot of money to make their environment a special place and I take that very seriously. My goal is to continue to do my best to provide them the greatest product their money can buy.

Has it been a smooth road?
As a small business owner, I think we all ponder the decision to hire help or continue to do it ourselves. I have pondered this thought numerous times over the years, and I’ve always come back to doing it myself. My clients come to me to receive a fabulous treatment that will change the look and feel of their living space. They are looking for all those high-end quality details I put into every job. To ensure that I continue to meet these standards, I have to make sure every job is done to my specifications and expectations. So far, I have not been able to find help that has the same attention to detail that I have. In addition, no one else is going to be as invested in my business, in my clients, in the work I do, as I am. And, I do not feel comfortable giving my clients a less than stellar product, just to get it to them in a shorter amount of time.

This struggle is real. I am the designer, the sales associate, the fabricator, the buyer, the bookkeeper, the scheduler, the social media manager, etc. for my business. I wear all these hats and more; just like many other small business owners. However, I am happy doing them all. This may not be the way to grow your business into a big business, but that’s just fine with me. I am successfully pulling in a good salary and putting out a good product simultaneously. I have the skills to keep myself employed for years to come, and most importantly, I am here for my family. Hiring someone to help me might just complicate all that.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Stitch Above The Rest is a full service, window treatment fabrication and design studio, creating custom hand-made window treatments, bedding, cushions, nursery bedding, upholstery and more. We are known for our attention to details, quality of work, and overall value in the finished product. We make sure to listen to the client’s needs and wants and create a treatment that is specific to their tastes, while transforming their space.

We are proud to offer custom services that go above and beyond the standards in this industry. There are three things that make custom work look custom; 1) the fabrication process, 2) the fabrics used, and 3) the installation. If any one of these is not up to par, it will downgrade the look of the other two dramatically, no matter how well they are done. We will ensure that all three are done to perfection.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Atlanta is probably one of the better places in this country for custom window treatments. The South loves to decorate with fabric and they love to dress their windows. The city and the Metro area are large enough for many businesses like mine to be successful. Because it continues to grow, businesses like this will continue to grow. The people of Atlanta are also great in that they are not afraid to spend money to make their spaces look good. They want a well-designed, comfortable living space and they know window treatments are a big part of that look and feel. To anyone just starting in this industry, I would say take a leap and venture out in Atlanta. There are millions of windows that need covering.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Elizabeth Gerdes (5 out of 8 photos)
Angela Periera (3 out of 8 photos)

Getting in touch: VoyageATL is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

1 Comment

  1. Marie Sullivan

    May 23, 2017 at 5:07 am

    Great article Elizabeth! Wonderful window treatments, so elegant. Keep up the beautiful work on those awesome southern windows, reminds me of Gone With The Wind, only more inspiring.

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