The roots of patch-making boutique A House Called Hue trace back to 2016, when founder and owner Destiny Brewton began crafting and selling personalized afro-inspired clothing and accessories. Fast forward to the beginning of her eighth year of service, Brewton has expanded her business to great lengths, designing and shipping her products in bulk to clients and brands all over the country. Operating three semi-commercial, ten-needle embroidery machines from her Pittsburgh Yards office space, the CEO is single-handedly navigating the technicalities of running a small business, while also turning a creative outlet into a sustainable living.
Brewton spoke with the Atlanta Voice about her growth as an entrepreneur and artist, and what she hopes the future holds for A House Called Hue and herself.
Atlanta Voice: How did you first become interested in embroidery, and what influenced you to start your own small business?
While working on developing new accessories for our previous marketplace, I found it very hard to develop my artistic concept into a tangible product without having to acquire high minimum order quantities or a lack of personalization in customer service from providers. I was very fond of patches and enamel pins and decided to read more into how I could bring the product production in-house. Through more thorough research, I found that embroidery was something I could not only do at home, but could start without a lot of startup funds. Earning money from doing Uber and Shipt, I bought my first one-needle embroidery machine and got to work!
AV: In what ways has your business grown since starting in 2016?
Building my first business Ushindi22 in 2016, I completely failed at planning, launching and marketing. I also did not give time for things to mature as I expected and wanted instant gratification. As I shifted more into custom work in 2018, I learned patience, planning and strategic marketing, allowing the customers to build trust with the brand. Now A House Called Hue is supported by our fan base of 20,000 + supporters across Instagram, Facebook and TikTok, and has allowed us to work and be featured with top brands like Spanx, Meta, Amazon, The NBA, Beyoncé.com, Slutty Vegan and Marta.
AV: You work with over 200 brands and ship countless personalized patches to customers and clients all across the country. How do you keep up with all of your orders and stay organized as an artist and entrepreneur running your business single-handedly?
I pray about it honestly! But seriously, I invested in having a CRM system built out for me with workflows, inquiry forms, canned emails, etc to keep track of my custom orders. Things ordered through my site are via Shopify since that system makes it easier to keep track of inventory, orders and shipping.
AV: What has been the most challenging obstacle you’ve had to face in operating your small business?
The biggest challenge currently is finding support on how to hire a team due to our growth in 2021. Since we have more machinery and more output, we are in need of a customer relations and production team member. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, supply companies that I used to obtain materials from have closed or are operating at a smaller capacity, limiting my access to available goods to complete projects and orders. This has impacted our ability to accept new orders to continue my main stream of income and it has reduced the number of orders I can take due to limited supply. Luckily through our growth I was able to move the business out of my home into our first production space at Pittsburgh Yards in 2021, allowing us to get 2 more machines to help with output.
AV: You operate from a reserved working space in Pittsburgh Yards. What about Pittsburgh Yards appealed to you when searching for a commercial space to work from?
Pittsburgh Yards was brought to my attention through a colleague with Village Micro Fund. It was hard finding a place before PY because either they were out of budget or they did not accept my business type due to the loud noise my embroidery machines would make (bothering potential neighbors). Pittsburgh Yards provided the space, community, all-inclusive utilities, and security that I was looking for and since being in the building I have acquired more curated business and press that has contributed to A House Called Hue’s continued growth.
AV: Where do you see A House Called Hue in five years’ time?
We have found ourselves losing on opportunities due to our lack of machinery, so our next plan of growth is to acquire another embroidery machine that has a bigger embroidery space to take bigger designs. We plan to explore more ways for us to educate our followers on terminology, processes and behind-the-scenes work, thus another stream of income in the business. We also hope to have moved into a bigger production space, preferably a house, so it can become an incubator space for other small businesses, honing in on 1-on-1 classes and more community outreach to expand A House Called Hue into our long-term goal of being more than just an embroidery company.
AV: What’s a piece of advice you’d give your younger self related to entrepreneurship, or to anyone wanting to start a small business of their own?
The best thing you can do is just start. It’s not going to be perfect and it’s most likely not going to go right the first time, but you just have to start. Be open to criticism, even if it hurts, and be open to networking. One of the most important lessons I have learned is to stay consistent and stay in your lane. It is hard to not look to the left and right of you, especially in comparing your storyline to another business, but you must grow your story and your audience because there is a market for you. Additionally, being consistent in connecting your story to the world is a part of the journey, you never know who needs to hear from you.