Baby Bruins are enjoying their last month of summer before heading to college for the first time. If you’re moving away from home, there’s no better gift or momento than a t-shirt quilt (yes, the one you’ve been eyeing on Pinterest!) made from all your high school athletic and club shirts. Enter Kayli Pearsall from Orange, California, who turned her passion for quilting into a business called The Loving Stitch. She went to the University of Oregon and graduated from USC, and now she makes customized t-shirt quilts that are perfect for recent grads and soon-to-be-freshmen.
The entrepreneur and artist spoke with Her Campus about her start and personal journey.
Her Campus: How and why did you first start the business?
Kayli Pearsall: I started my business when I graduated from college. I was moving out of my parents house and realized how many FREAKIN’ shirts I had! I had shirts from high school through college. Concert tees, sorority tees, triathlon and race t-shirts. I had a t-shirt from every significant moment in my life. Every t-shirt held a specific memory for me. I knew I wasn’t wearing them anymore but I could not imagine throwing them out. So with the help of my mom we patched together all of my items and made a blanket. When I showed it to friends they all wanted one, too. That’s how the business got started. It has been many years since the very start of my business and it has gone through many phases to get to where I’m at now. It’s been a journey for sure.
HC: What do you most enjoy about quilting?
KP: The part I enjoy most about the business is the interaction with my clients and customers. I communicate with each and every customer and I like hearing their story. Why they are making their quilt. Who they are making their quilt for. The customer interaction is my favorite part. Completing and delivering the custom product comes in a very close second!
HC: Why are these the best grad gifts or going-to-college keepsakes?
My quilts are extremely popular at graduation. When most people graduate they tend to take inventory. They usually find they have drawers or boxes of old t-shirts, sweatshirts and jersey’s and they’re not sure what to do with all of it. Graduation is a milestone. Graduation is personal and unique to each person. That’s what the blankets symbolize. Parents are making them for their high school seniors heading off to college. College seniors are having blankets made to signify the end of an era. The blankets encapsulate a portion of their life. Kind of an heirloom. Girlfriends are making them for boyfriends, moms are making them for their seniors and guys just want someone to make one for them!
HC: Do you have any advice for female entrepreneurs or artists?
KP: As a female business owner, I am proud to say that I’ve educated myself through every step of this company and business. It has NOT been easy but it has been worth every minute. It has been a very LONG journey to get here. It did not explode over night. I have taken a lot of detours to get here. The one thing that I’ve only recently taken complete ownership of is that this is my passion. It is what gets me excited and pumped. It’s what keeps me up at night and keeps me going all day. It’s what I love to think about and work on. For a long time I wasn’t really sure if that was a good thing. Now I know it’s an amazing gift. If you have something that gets you jacked up it is worth exploring. Go for it. And when it comes to “competition” know that there is only one you. You bring something completely original and unique to whatever you are doing. It counts for so much more than we give it credit for.
Thank you, Kayli, for allowing us to hold onto our best high school and college memories through a cozy and long-lasting blanket.