There are some incredible small business owners we have had the chance to meet because of Babes Ride Out. These ladies do things on their own terms and with such style and grace that we instantly want to learn more about them and how they went from a 9-5 to working 24/7 running their own online stores, boutiques, restaurants, jewelry lines, and more. Meet one of those ladies and raffle contributor for Babes Ride Out 5, Lacy VanCourt from Austin Texas, proud owner of Die Trying TX - Chainstitch Embroidery.
Tell us about yourself and how you ended up in TX?
I’m actually from Texas. I grew up here and come from a long line of Texans. My family has been in the state for over 100 years, mainly farming and ranching. I left to go to art school in Baltimore, lived in NY and CA for a while after that, and then moved back to Austin about 8 years ago. My background is in painting but I’ve always been drawn to traditional crafts. It’s really fitting I would get into chainstitch because it’s a craft deeply rooted in western culture and motifs. I actually had a family member who was a chainstitcher. In the late 70s he owned a dry goods store in west Texas and also offered chainstitching, mainly just stitching names on people’s coveralls and letterman jackets. I think he would have been pretty excited to see what’s being done with the medium today.
How has your city surroundings changed your lifestyle?
My favorite thing about Austin is the food, music, its beautiful landscapes, and incredible swimming holes. Living here has changed my lifestyle in an everyday way just because I have more space. We have chickens, a garden, a team of cats and dogs. My sister (she’s riding from Austin to BRO this year) and her boyfriend are building a house on our property, so we have a little family compound. I could never have had that in other places I’ve lived. Overall Austin is just a relaxed place, most people tend to recreate a lot, and not be in a rush…I’m not sure if that’s just part of the culture or just the effects of the heat…. I mean, when its 110 degrees outside there’s not much else to do except go swim.
Tell us how your business came to be.
I’ve always been aware of chainstitch and its use in traditional western wear and thought it would be a fun thing to know how to do. Good vintage chainstitch machines are hard to come by so when I found one I bought it without knowing very much. There are very few people who still do embroidery with these types of machines and there’s very little info on how to operate them. It took me a long time to just figure out how to use it, but once I got it going I fell in love with the process. It really turned into a business out of necessity. My job situation was changing and it was either go out and find a new job or make a go of doing my own thing. At that point, I had been chainstitching for a few years and decided to just go for it. In retrospect it was the best thing that could have happened because it really forced me to hustle. I’ve now been doing this full time for a little over a year and it’s been incredibly rewarding to have people take such an interest in my work.
What is a day in the life like when you run your own business?
I don’t want to oversell it, because obviously there are stressful parts to being self-employed, but every day is mostly about doing what I love… making stuff. I am your classic creative type who is better at the creative parts than the other aspects of running a business. Thankfully, I have someone who helps with administrative stuff and organizes my lists of projects, events, and calendar. Every day I’m kind of flying by the seat of my pants. I don’t really have a set schedule, I just try and get as much done in a day that is humanly possible. That includes everything from stitching patch orders, drawing ideas, photographing stuff, meeting with customers, coffee, more stitching, and on and on. I love it!
What are you currently working on?
I’m collaborating with a denim & vintage company, Crawford Denim & Vintage, on a collection of one of a kind stitched vintage jeans. I’ve got some custom wedding outfits in the works and just further developing my line of patches. I’m also hoping to add some one of kind wall hangings to my shop in the near future.
What is something you cherish about your profession?
Chainstitch embroidery is done with machines that are hand operated so its a very old school way to do embroidery. Each piece is stitched one at a time and I really enjoy that process. It’s basically like drawing with a sewing machine. It’s rewarding to create handcrafted goods that are unique and special; items that are not disposable but meant to be collected.
What are you donating to the raffle? A one of kind chainstitch embroidered back patch
Any recommendations for ladies traveling to Joshua Tree for Babes Ride Out 5?
Get out and see as much as you can. Pioneertown is really cool and I actually have patches at a store there, Pioneertown General Store. It’s also definitely worth going to see The Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum.