I think almost everyone can point to a time when they’ve felt excluded. I’ve been the only woman on the all-male team, the only mother in the company of 200, the only Jew at the Christmas party. For a long time I was too young to be included in social outings, until one day I was too old. Everyone knows what it’s like to feel left out, unappreciated, or disregarded, and everyone knows that it stinks.
The one place I’ve never felt left out is within the craft community. Places where crafters gather, like the Craftcation conference, SF Bazaar, or online stitch-ups, are where I feel appreciated when I show up as my authentic self. But I know that that’s not the case for everyone. For many people, the wider craft community can feel uninviting or even hostile. My goal with Maydel, therefore, is to make as many people feel welcome as possible.
One thing I’ve learned as I’ve been building this company is that there’s no such thing as perfect inclusion or 100% accessibility. Like so many messy human goals, inclusion is a process rather than a destination, so I’m focusing on taking steps in the right direction rather than on a distant and impossible horizon. Some of the steps I’m focused on today include:
- Stocking products with accessibility features like hypoallergenic needles and squeezable scissors
- Stocking products whose manufacture doesn’t harm vulnerable communities
- Continually updating the web site to add accessibility improvements like keyboard navigation and fully captioned videos
- Making high-quality products available in the smallest amounts possible to increase price accessibility, such as individual needles and fabric by-the-inch
- Auditing all patterns sold on the site to make sure they contain easily readable text and charts
- Offering projects across a range of styles, needlework traditions, and levels of difficulty
- Featuring artists representing a wide variety of backgrounds, ages, cultures, abilities, and disciplines
- Making our Bundel and affiliate programs open to any artist or organization who wants to join.
Maydel is not yet where I want it to be, and I will undoubtedly make mistakes while trying to bring more people into the tent, so please don’t hesitate to send me your feedback. If you ever notice I’m falling short—if anything about the site, our marketing, or our product selection isn’t as welcoming or as usable as it should be, please let me know and I’ll do my best to address it ASAP. I also welcome your thoughts about inclusion in general, even if it has nothing to do with Maydel.
May you feel seen, welcome, appreciated, and inspired, wherever you go.
—Lauren Venell (L.O.V.), Maydel Founder