Kristi Palermo

Age: 21

Program: 4th year Honours Political Science and Women’s Studies Minor

Hometown: Niagara

Relationship Status: single

Check it out:  Soul Stitcher


Tell me a little bit about yourself. 

Gym freak, company owner, full time student. I’m just so busy, but I like having something to do and to spend my day on because it gives me purpose.


So you started your own company in your third year at Western. How did that start? 

One day I was in Toronto with Laura [roommate/best friend] and we were trying on all this expensive clothing and just talking the talk. Laura bought me a scrunchie and it was like $9 or something from American Apparel and I remember thinking ‘this is just absurd; it can’t be that hard to make.’ The next day, I was talking to Trevor [best friend] about it and I was saying I wish I could learn how to sew. We’ve never had a ton of money so having that option to fix your clothes and change them to what is more trendy is a good skill to have. So we talked to my mom and we got her old sewing machine and figured it out and that night I made a scrunchie.

I brought it up to Melissa [sister] and she said, ‘I love this, we have to do this.’ The whole thing was her idea. That’s kind of how it started. It was so nice to have all the people I loved involved. Trevor thought of the name and he did the logo. It was so fast I didn’t even have time to doubt myself. Like ‘oh, maybe I can’t do this, what am I doing, I’m so amateur’ and sh*t like that but every single time I would doubt myself I would have customers coming to me saying, ‘I want your stuff, I want your stuff.’ So I thought, ‘well, if they want it, why not?’


Have you noticed a change between just selling your products off Instagram and having an online store? 

It was really hard to do orders over our Instagram and so nonchalant. It was more like I was really doing exactly what [our customers] wanted because I didn’t know what I was doing. But now that I have an online store, it’s the other way around. It’s way easier for me because I know what I’m giving out and they’re choosing it, where before I was so on demand for everything. I’m glad that it’s finally simmered down to the point to where I have control of everything.


Your sister, Melissa, is your business partner and has been since the beginning. What do you have to say about working with her? 

It’s definitely brought us together. We sit around and hand sew all night. She’s my best friend, she’s my co-partner. She definitely gets me through every day.


What makes your scrunchies different from all the other ones around? 

I’ve definitely tried to modernize the scrunchie. I have non-bend elastic in them so that they are constantly that crisp, nice shape even when you put it in and out of your hair. They’re thinner and more preserved.


You’re really committed to having your products incorporate hand sewing. Why is that? 

I love having the sewn seam. It gives it character. That’s my favourite part of the scrunchie. Even on other products; there’s a hand stitch on the bow tie to close it and the pillows have a hand sewn section. It just shows that it’s not made by a machine. I slave over every single item I make and I love every one once it’s finished. It’s nice to have that personalized part of it and know someone did this for you, that someone took the time out of their day to literally hand sew this for you. I mean bleeding fingers or not, it’s my favourite part. I would never change it.


How does it feel to be graduating this year? Your business has taken off in a very different direction than your degree. Do you think you’ll be able to use it going forward? 

Honestly, I’m ready to be done. I don’t really like school. I mean, with the business and everything I just know that it’s not what I want to do. I’m sure it will be helpful to have a degree and I’ve learned a lot about communication in polisci. It’s not just countries and countries, it’s mediation and learning how to solve problems. It’s really helpful. And women’s studies is empowering. The whole ‘girl power’ thing fits in with what we’re doing [at Soul Stitcher]. We’re constantly trying to empower people. So I don’t see it as a complete miss. I’m glad I came, but I’m ready to be done.


So it’s Body Image Week at HerCampus. How do you think your tattoos have affected your self-perception and body image? 

I love covering my body in tattoos. When I get one I feel better about myself. The only thing that kind of sucked about it is not being able to see my muscle definition, because working out is a big part of my life. But I’ve gotten so far with [my tattoos] that I just love getting them. I like to cover up and I like that it does that for me. And the things I don’t like about myself… I can make them pretty. That’s the thing. I love that.


You work out a lot and are really focused on living a healthy life style. Has this helped with your body image? 

I don’t do it anymore for what my body looks like. I used to be like that and I used to be very judgemental of myself, but now I do it more for feeling strong. I like that feeling. When I’m working out I’m not thinking about what I look like. It’s about getting my stress out and waking me up and starting my day. It’s the perfect thing to just get you up and make you feel good about yourself and put you in a positive mood.


Is there a secret to how you get everything done?

Waking up early is the most crucial thing. I get up every single morning at 5 or 6am, and [Laura and I] work out together. It’s insane, I realize that, but I work out and I feel better about my day. If I don’t get that workout in I feel unproductive and like a slug all day. Having that early start and being productive, even if it’s just until noon, leaves me all the time in the world to work on my business. I get school done before noon and I have the rest of the day to just let my creativity happen. I can just relax and take breaks in between because I don’t want my business to be something that I have to do. I still want it to be something that I love. So I think getting an early start to the day, regardless of when I go to sleep, always has helped me.

Favourite Colour: Light blue. Or blues. I like blue 

Favourite Book: It’s written in French so it could be either, but it’s The Stranger/The Outsider by Albert Camus. 

Favourite Quote: "You can't keep blaming yourself. Just blame yourself once, and move on!" -Homer Simpson 

Favourite Thing About Western: Its beautiful campus 

Favourite Place In London: Thames bike trail